Sandro Wagner may have retired from the Germany national team set-up after his surprise exclusion from Joachim Löw’s FIFA World Cup squad, but the Bayern Munich striker’s tone has softened in recent weeks.
Wagner was a European U21 champion with Germany in 2009 as part of a golden generation which included the likes of Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, but when they went onto win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Wagner was watching at home, midway through a spell at Hertha Berlin which brought just seven goals in 71 games.
A late career surge saw the target man join his teammates of old in the Germany set-up in 2017, though, and after a team-best five goals in qualifying, odds were short on the 30-year-old completing his fairy-tale comeback with a place on the plane to Russia.
Watch: Wagner had been confident of making the World Cup squad earlier in the season, describing himself as the "best German striker."
Wagner’s frustration at missing out was palpable, and his reaction – perhaps – understandable.
“I hereby withdraw from the national team with immediate effect,” he said. “It’s clear my way of being honest and direct didn’t fit with the coaching team. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. The World Cup would’ve been a great thing.”
Wagner’s Bayern teammates leapt to his defence, and it seems that having some time to digest the bad news has had a positive effect on the forward, who bagged a goal every 90 minutes he played after joining the Bavarians from Hoffenheim in the winter transfer window.
“I’ll stop my holiday and cross my fingers the minute they kick off [against Mexico on Sunday],” Wagner told SportBild. “I’m proud to have been a part of this team and I wish you all the best in the coming weeks. Go and get the Cup. For everyone there and us Germans at home.”
“Despite what happened I would definitely do it all again,” he concluded. “Even if I’ll be supporting them from the kitchen table instead of the opposition penalty box.”