RIO DE JANEIRO — Bloodied and bruised, Bastian Schweinsteiger paid tribute to Germany's fans after a historic victory saw the country become the first Europeans to win the World Cup in the Americas.
Germany claimed a fourth title after Mario Goetze came off the bench to score a 113th minute-winner in their 1-0 victory over Argentina at Rio de Janeiro's iconic Maracana Stadium.
Midfield general Schweinsteiger said messages of support from loyal fans back home had helped the team on their run to the title.
"We'll enjoy the moment, it's unbelievable," said Schweinsteiger, who claimed his first international title after a decade with 'die Mannschaft'.
"Thank you to the whole of Germany for your support.
"We could feel how much you have got behind us here.
"It was an unbelievable performance, but how the boys on the bench have got into it is something I have never experienced before.
"That gave us so much power, now because of it we have won the World Cup."
Schweinsteiger put his body on the line in the final and was left bloodied in his personal battle with Argentina's midfielders Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano.
He had to twice re-adjust as defensive midfield partner Sami Khedira dropped out at the 11th hour with a calf injury, then Khedira's replacement Christoph Kramer went off after 31 minutes with a head injury.
But Schweinsteiger capped a battling display by soaking up plenty of physical punishment in extra-time.
He was left clutching his left ankle on the Maracana turf after Mascherano's 102nd-minute tackle-from-behind, then his right ankle took a pounding after a double sliding tackle from Mascherano and Biglia.
The Bayern Munich star needed treatment for a facial cut after taking a stray fist in the face on 110 minutes from Manchester City's Sergio Aguero while challenging for a ball.
What is more remarkable is that Schweinsteiger came to Brazil after an injury-riddled 2013-14 campaign.
He had two ankle operations and suffered with tendinitis of the knee at the end of the season, meaning he was eased into the World Cup, but has been ever-present since coming on as a substitute in the 2-2 group-stage draw with Ghana.
Team manager Oliver Bierhoff revealed on the eve of the final that Schweinsteiger 'hated' missing the opening group stage drubbing of Portugal on the bench.
Although he turns 30 in a fortnight, Bierhoff's comments show 'Schweini' has lost none of his passion a decade after his debut in June 2004 and is Germany's midfield general with 108 caps.
Now having been part of the squad which reached at least the semi-finals of the last five major tournaments since the 2006 World Cup, Schweinsteiger was at the heart of Germany's success in bringing the trophy back to Europe. — AFP