Lukas Podolski says England may enjoy some tournament success now they've stopped 'playing like a rugby team'

Sports Staff
The retiring German legend thinks England have a bright future: Bongarts/Getty

Retiring German forward Lukas Podolski thinks England have a much brighter future now that they have abandoned playing ‘like a rugby’ team.

The 31-year-old forward, who marked his 130th and final Germany appearance with a stunning winner against England on Wednesday, says he is already impressed with the improvement the nation have made under new manager Gareth Southgate.

Under Southgate, England experimented with a three-man defence for the first time since 2006 and England played well, despite eventually losing to the departing Podolski’s long-range strike.

“They have a good team and a good manager,” Podolski said. “Before they played with like a rugby style, now they have good guys, good characters - they were physical but they play more football now.

“When they go to a tournament they are always nervous, they always play too much under pressure [but] I will be watching England at the [2018] World Cup.”

Podolski has also said that he thinks Wayne Rooney deserves a warm Wembley send off when his England days come to an end, similar to the one he received at the Westfalenstadion on Wednesday night.

Podolski officially retired from Germany duty after Euro 2016 but was summoned back for a final lap of honour in Wednesday's Three Lions friendly, obliging his adoring public with a brilliant 25-yard winner on his 130th appearance.

Podolski was given a rapturous send off at the Westfalenstadion (Bongarts/Getty )

At 31, Rooney is the same age as Podolski and his international career is also winding down after 119 caps and a record 53 goals. He revealed plans to call it a day after next year's World Cup but since Southgate took over as manager, he has found not just his captaincy but also his claims to a place in the squad under scrutiny and neither are now guaranteed.

Southgate did not select him for the Germany game, or Sunday's qualifier in Lithuania, revealing his lack of playing time at Manchester United, and competition from younger legs, were the reasons rather than injury.

Whether England would offer, or Rooney accept, the kind of emotional farewell the German Football Association handed out in Dortmund is hypothetical at present but Podolski is convinced the Manchester United man would warrant such a gesture.

Podolski hopes Rooney will also be given a suitable tribute (Getty)

"Of course, I hope so, because he is one of the greatest in England," he said.

"I don't know if it's traditional in England to give someone a farewell game, but when I am England boss or the president I will say 'Wayne, next week you've got a game!"

"My last game, against a good team in a very nice stadium, I scored a goal and it was 1-0. It's like a movie. Of course, it was the perfect end."

Southgate did not address Rooney's position directly but did ponder the possible value of an occasion such as the one in honour of Podolski."I think people recognise those who have made 100 caps, we have always given presentations for that, and people acknowledge the contribution they've made," he said.

"What we haven't done, which maybe some other countries do, is evenings like this. I played in a game in Portugal where Luis Figo had a similar thing, but you can't always predict when the end is coming for people."

The Galatasaray striker, who is heading to play in Japan at the end of the campaign, also shared a chuckle when relaying a light-hearted exchange with England's Joe Hart following his goal.

Asked what the goalkeeper had said to him, Podolski revealed: "F***ing brilliant shot!"

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