Philipp Lahm: Small stature, big talent

Philipp Lahm's explosive pace, deceptive strength and impressive shooting skills belie his small stature – indeed, he is the Magic Dwarf.

Philipp Lahm commands Germany's left side

Philipp Lahm

Born: Nov. 11, 1983, in Munich, Germany 

Position: Defender

Nickname: The Magic Dwarf

Clubs played for: Bayern Munich has spent much time grooming Philipp Lahm into one of the world's best left backs. Lahm has been with Bayern since 1995 and though he was on loan to Stuttgart from 2003 to 2005, the Magic Dwarf has played over 200 times for Die Bayern (The Bavarians), winning three Bundesliga titles and three German Cups.

International career: Since 2004, Lahm has patrolled Germany's left flank 64 times, and was a major part of Die Mannschaft (The Team) in Euro 2004, Euro 2008 and the 2006 World Cup.

Why is he so special? When he is in full flight with the ball at his feet, it is difficult to stop Lahm from injecting himself into Germany's attack. His explosive pace, deceptive strength and impressive shooting skills belie his small stature – hence the nickname – but he doesn't flout his defensive duties and can track back quickly to clean up messes.

His most famous moment: Lahm started Germany's march to a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup when he scored the first goal of the tournament, a 25-yard wallop against Costa Rica.

He said it: "[As a defender] you must be good at reading the game in order to intervene at the right time. (A defender) must also be strong in one against one (situations), be quick and have good technical skills. For me, these are the determining factors."

What they're saying about him: "This player is very important." Joachim Loew, German manager  

Here is an interesting fact: Although Lahm and Luca Toni were reprimanded earlier this season – after both publicly criticized Bayern's transfer policy and head coach Louis Van Gaal – Lahm is often lauded for his charity work. He is an ambassador for FIFA for SOS Children's Village, and is active in several charities throughout Germany helping children who've been physically and sexually abused.