By Oliver Trust
BERLIN, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Manuel Neuer intentions were all too evident when he entered the press-room in advance of Germany's two Euro qualifiers against Belarus this Saturday and Estonia the following Tuesday. Despite his age, the 33-year-old claims to still be Germany's number one keeper and made clear he is not willing to step aside yet.
What the 2014 world champion's captain announced might well disappoint his challenger, Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen in his attempt to replace the Bayern Munich performer as the country's first choice keeper.
Neuer's message left no room for doubt: The 22 times capped 27-year-old has to be patient and wait as Neuer stated he intends to keep his number one status at least until the 2020 European Championships.
"I don't feel anyone breathing down my neck," the Bayern professional commented, adding he made the decision to continue his career until 2021 when his contract in Munich expires.
"I love my job; I love to be on the pitch in action. As long as my body is working well, I will continue," the 2014 world champion emphasized ahead of his 87th and 88th international for Germany which will see him overtake German goalkeeping legend Oliver Kahn, who finished on 86 caps.
Looking forward to future seasons, Neuer has the potential to challenge Germany's most capped goalkeeper and 1974 world champion Sepp Maier (95 games).
Neuer's announcement is "bad news" when it comes to Ter Stegen's ambitions. Though the Spanish champion's performances this season have been described as brilliant, he won't be able to force out his rival in his country's selection.
While Barcelona president Jose Maria Bartomeu may have called him "Messi in gloves"; Spanish media may have continuously praised the German as "at his best" - Ter Stegen has to accept Neuer's value and quality.
Fans and pundits rubbed their eyes in disbelieve when Neuer turned up for the 2019 German Cup final against RB Leipzig at the end of May after a injury break to turn in a world-class performance. "It might have surprised others, but it didn't surprise me," Neuer underlined.
In advance of the final internationals before the summer break, Neuer appears as the last remaining stabilizing factor in the German squad after experienced forces such as Jerome Boateng, Thomas Mueller, and Mats Hummels were ruled out by coach Joachim Loew.
"I might be what you call an old fox, but I am still around providing experience and quality to my team," Neuer said, adding he intends to be part of the generational change and support the country's youngsters as they break into the first team.
As the oldest player in the German squad he still feels he is trusted by the coach. "That is what you need as a footballer, and this helps you to perform well," he commented after rejecting Loew's offer to take a break to continue his recovery after he had been ruled out for months last season due to several injuries.
"It is an honour to play these games, they are far from a burden," Neuer said. The competition among Germany's goalkeepers might be one reason for Neuer for staking his claims and his body on the line. The other one is his unbroken determination to be one of the world's best.
Neuer called injuries part of a football career, "but I managed to return and perform well in the season's second leg. I wasn't always praised with luck last year, but I fought my way back." It seems he came back to stay for good.