Ballack to remain Germany captain

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The Independent Online

Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack will remain as Germany captain after holding clear-the-air talks with coach Joachim Low.

The pair met for talks in in Frankfurt in the wake of comments made by the 32-year-old midfielder in a recent newspaper interview.

Low said in a statement: "I am delighted that an excellent national team player who has played a major part in our success over the last few years is still available for selection and will continue to help us in achieving the goals we have set on the way to the 2010 World Cup.

"Michael Ballack remains my captain."

Ballack issued an apology to Low in which he admitted criticising the coach's treatment of Torsten Frings and Kevin Kuranyi had been a mistake.

Ballack had apologised for his comments via a press release, but doubts still surrounded his future in the national team when Low reserved judgement until after the pair met.

He said a decision over whether Ballack would remain his captain hinged on "how the discussion goes".

And the issues appear to have now been settled following Thursday's meeting in the German Football Association (DFB) headquarters.

"It was important that we were very open with this discussion," added Low.

"Even as captain, he must understand he has to abide by the rules.

"He knows he can talk to me about anything, keeping it internal. But all sporting and personnel decisions are made by the coaching team and I have made this unmistakably clear to Michael."

Ballack received permission from his club to fly in and out of Germany on Thursday for the much-anticipated face-to-face talks.

After the meeting, he reiterated it had been a mistake to criticise Low.

"I realised it was not right to go public and I also regret the impression was created that I wanted to criticise Joachim Low in his position as Germany coach personally," he said.

"I have apologised to Joachim Low for that. He is the Germany coach and he takes the decisions and we all have to accept that."

"I have no doubt that, after this discussion with Joachim Low, we can realise our goals with the national team in a good atmosphere."

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