Michael Ballack steps up attack after being excluded by Germany

Former Germany captain Michael Ballack has stepped up his sharp criticism of Germany coach Joachim Loew, saying he had already decided to quit the national team when Loew announced that the player had no future with the side.

The 34-year-old former Chelsea midfielder said yesterday that he had wanted to announce the decision himself. Ballack and the German football federation (DFB) have been trading barbs ever since Loew made the announcement on Thursday.

"It's a pity that I now have to read again statements that do not reflect the truth and to which I have to react," Ballack said in a statement distributed by his Bundesliga club, Bayer Leverkusen.

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Ballack said he made the decision in May. "We agreed that I would make the announcement myself during the summer break," he said. The veteran added he had learned of Loew's decision to exclude him from the national team via a text message sent by DFB general secretary Wolfgang Niersbach just one hour ahead of Loew's announcement.

A day after Loew announced that Ballack was no longer part of his plans, the former captain accused the coach of hypocrisy and called the offer of a farewell match a "farce". Ballack also said he was "disappointed and surprised" by Loew's announcement.

Niersbach then responded by saying Ballack had known since the end of March that Loew did not want him back in the team and had not replied to text messages and emails from the federation before the announcement.

Ballack was on holiday in the United States and returned to begin training for the new season with his club yesterday, saying it was "simply not true" that he had been told in March by Loew that his Germany career was over.

"Just the opposite," Ballack said. "He told me that I was on a good path after recovering from injury and that he thought I could still make a comeback to the national team."

But in May, Ballack said he had decided to retire and told Loew and Niersbach about his decision, whereby they agreed to let him make the announcement himself.

"There was no deadline," Ballack said. Loew said he had read Ballack's statement and "could only repeat" that he stood by his original announcement.

"In our talks, I had the impression that Michael definitely understands our point of view," Loew said. "So in the interest of everyone, an honest and clear decision is now appropriate."

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Niersbach said the DFB had even offered Ballack the opportunity to play in two friendlies so that he could reach a century of caps with Germany. One was a friendly against Uruguay at the end of May, the other the 10 August match against Brazil. The DFB had repeated their offer for Ballack to make his final appearance against Brazil, which the former captain turned down as a "farce".

Loew said he had decided to rely on a core of younger players. Germany has a perfect played seven, won seven record in qualifying matches for next year's European Championship.

Ballack has 98 caps but has not played for Germany in more than a year and missed seven months with an ankle injury, including last year's World Cup in South Africa, where Germany finished third. His last game for Germany was in March 2010, a 1-0 loss to Argentina in a friendly .When his contract at Chelsea was not extended, Ballack returned to Leverkusen and struggled to make the starting line-up after coming back from an ankle injury. But he finished the season strongly.

The tackle that effectively ended his Germany career came in the FA Cup final against Portsmouth in 2010 and was committed by former Bundesliga player Kevin-Prince Boateng.

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