To think that the world of football may never have got to see the mercurial talents of World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger may seem a crime, yet the Bavarian-born midfielder's emergence in the sport came only after a 50/50 decision in his youth.
Slippery slope to stardom
Born in the southern Bavarian town of Kolbermoor on 1 August 1984, the proximity to the alpine skiing resorts saw him divide his time between the football pitch and the slopes.
As a highly promising downhill skier, he was soon faced with a defining decision between that and football, and he opted for the latter, joining the FC Bayern youth academy in July 1998.
After steadily working his way up through the ranks, he made his debut in the Bundesliga against VfB Stuttgart on 7 December 2002. Once established in the Bayern team, the midfielder won his first international cap for Germany on 6 June 2004 against Hungary.
A risk worth taking
Schweinsteiger played as a versatile winger in the early years of his career, before then-Bayern coach Louis van Gaal moved him into a deeper-lying role in the centre of midfield alongside Mark van Bommel in 2009/10.
So successful was the positional switch that Joachim Löw also began to deploy him the same way for Germany. His composure on the ball and ability to retain possession have since seen him become widely acknowledged as one of the best holding midfielders in the world.
Secrets to success
Schweinsteiger has a special routine to prepare for each game: "I eat a lot of fish and vegetables and always have pasta on a Matchday." He also has a curious trick to give him an extra edge before going out on to the pitch: "I make my socks wet. It makes them a little bit thinner and gives me a better feel for the ball."
Difficult to prove scientifically, the practical results of Schweinsteiger's wet-sock routine are undeniable. He towered above his opponents again in 2012/13 and it was no coincidence that his goal secured Bayern's first trophy in three years. paving the way to an historic treble that year.
Schweinsteiger's magic touch didn't wane in 2013/14 despite new head coach Pep Guardiola often opting to make use of his talents in a more advanced role. A serious injury threatened to knock him back, but true to form the midfield maestro came back stronger than ever, guiding FCB to a domestic double.
It was that unerring will to win and desire to push his body to the limit, underlined by his performance in the 2014 FIFA World Cup final against Argentina which saw him emerge bloodied and bruised, that saw him hailed as one of the stars the tournament in Brazil. One of the world's greatest midfielders had finally got his hands on football's greatest prize allowing football fans across the globe to rejoice that he chose the pitch over the piste.