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Football | Germany

Michael Ballack © Reuters Images

Ballack eager to bury hatchet with Loew



With his football career in Germany set to finish next week, ex-national team captain Michael Ballack has extended the olive branch to both current skipper Philipp Lahm and coach Joachim Loew.

The 35-year-old ex-Chelsea star is out of contract at Bayer Leverkusen when the season finishes on May 5, but is not guaranteed to play either at home to Hanover on Saturday or at Nuremberg on the last day of the season.

He has said he wants to bury the hatchet with Lahm and Loew after his indignation in the wake of the 2010 World Cup.

Ballack was ruled out of South Africa 2010 with an ankle injury, but was later left bitter after he felt excluded from the German camp by Lahm and Loew during a brief visit to Africa during the tournament.

The day he left Africa, Lahm stated that he wanted to keep the captain's armband, increasing Ballack's indignation, and in June 2011 he was told by Loew he had no future in the Germany team.

Ballack then snubbed the offer of a farewell appearance against Brazil last August, leaving him with 98 appearances for his country in an international career spanning more than a decade.

But with Ballack tipped to finish his career in north America's MLS league next season, the midfielder is offering the peace pipe as his time in the Bundesliga draws to a close.

"In football, you should never say never," he told German sports channel Sport1.

"Time heals wounds. I can put everything into context.

"Certain things can be cleared up."

Loew has said he will speak to Ballack before Euro 2012 starts on June 8, but Ballack says everything can be cleared up with a simple handshake, which he says should have happened before.

"It always depends on how the person in question approaches you or how you do it," said Ballack.

"One could have found a solution in a different way. You will always cross paths, offer your hand and move on."

Ballack's charity needs to be put in context as his status in Germany has fallen sharply since leading his country at the 2006 World Cup, when they came third, and to the final of Euro 2008 final, when they lost to Spain in Vienna.

He crossed swords with Loew in October 2008 when he criticised the coach for not supporting his senior players enough after veteran Torsten Frings was dropped.

Loew had to call Ballack to a meeting in Frankfurt to resolve the matter and Ballack made his last appearance for Germany when he captained Argentina in March 2010 before he was struck by almost back-to-back injuries.

After his Chelsea contract was not renewed he returned to the Bundesliga in July 2010, but played two seasons for Leverkusen without holding down a regular first-team place.

He has made 33 Bundeliga appearances in two years and had a spat with the club after chairman Wolfgang Holzhaeuser said in January the experiment to bring him back to Germany had "failed".

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