Michael Ballack has warned Bayern Munich defender Philipp Lahm he intends to captain Germany in the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.
The 33-year-old, who joined former club Bayer Leverkusen on a free transfer in the summer, was ruled out of the World Cup by an ankle injury suffered on his last appearance for Chelsea, in the FA Cup final at Wembley in May.
In his absence Lahm led a spirited young team to the semi-finals in South Africa, having famously thrashed England 4-1 along the way, before finishing third.
Lahm maintains he has no intentions of giving up the captain's armband voluntarily.
However Ballack insists he is the man to now take Germany's next generation forward and will let Lahm know exactly that when the pair eventually come face to face ahead of the opening Euro 2012 qualifier against Belgium in Brussels on September 3.
'Philipp's remarks were not warranted, even though the timing of his remarkswas unfortunate because I was out injured and could not mount my own defence,'Ballack told ESPN Soccernet.
'Still, players can't tell the coach where to pick them and the same applies to the captaincy.
'You have to respect the hierarchy and when we next meet up, I will talk the matter over with Philipp. For me, the matter is clear - I am the captain of Germany and intend to take on the role again when I am fit.
'I can't wait to lead Germany into the Euro 2012 qualifiers and make a success of it. I believe in myself as the captain and think I have the personality to do it.
It's mine: Ballack says he still intends to take on the role as captain of Germany
'Missing this year's World Cup due to injury was a real blow and there is no way I am about to settle for a final curtain like that.
'I am still hungry and when you are sidelined at just the wrong moment you become even hungrier. I know I can still contribute to a Leverkusen side on the verge of great things.'
Ballack did not have his Chelsea contract renewed when it expired inthe summer and like England winger Joe Cole, he was allowed to leave ona free transfer.
Although it was no surprise to see Ballack - signed by Chelsea on a Bosman from Bayern Munich during May 2006 - return to the Bundesliga, the German midfielder would have preferred to stay at Stamford Bridge.
'I would have loved to finish my career at Chelsea, and they were my number one option when my contract expired last summer,' said Ballack.
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'I was a little disappointed when we could not come to an agreement on a new contract because at one point, I thought we would get there.
'I know I had the backing of the coach (Carlo Ancelotti), but unfortunately it didn't happen and I had to move on to my next challenge with Leverkusen.
'I don't feel any bitterness towards Chelsea and I hope they keep on winning.
'Chelsea is a special club where I spent four great years and we won many trophies.
'I was treated very well by the people at the club and there was always a great spirit in the squad.
'We had many champions in the team, six or seven national team captains, and yet our biggest asset was unity, with all these top-class players putting egos in their pockets for the good of the team. It is pretty unique in my opinion.
'Ancelotti is an excellent organiser, they have the footballing ability, character and physical strength. I see them as one of the favourites for the Champions League in 2011.' Veteran Michael Ballack warns Philipp Lahm: I'm still full-time Germany captain Matthaus fears for Ballack's Chelsea future after claiming Germany captain has failed to shine at Stamford Bridge