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Michael Ballack Introduced At Bayer Leverkusen, Insists He's Still Germany's Captain

Michael Ballack was introduced today at his new club, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, with which he signed on June 25 to a two year contact after his contract at Chelsea expired.  Ballack's introduction marks his second tour of duty with Bayer 04. He was with the team from 1999-2002 and it was with the club that he first made his breakthrough.

At his introductory press conference, Ballack ruffled a few feathers when he claimed that the German captain's armband still belonged to him.  Ballack missed the World Cup with an ankle injury he suffered in the FA Cup Final against Portsmouth and Bayern Munich defender, Phillip Lahm, claimed the captain's duties for the tournament.

From AFP:

With Germany reaching the semi-finals, the 26-year-old Lahm went on record to say that he would not hand back the captaincy unless told to do so by coach Joachim Loew.

Ballack, however, who has 98 caps to his name, is not yet ready to call time on his international career and launched a broadside at Lahm while giving his first press conference at new club Bayer Leverkusen.

"I am the captain of the national team," said Ballack. "Philipp Lahm has made his claim at a moment that I feel is inopportune. I was injured and could not defend myself.

"There are hierarchies. I am going to talk to Philipp about this business."

The 33-year-old has captained the national team since 2004.  The situation does not hint to solve itself soon as Loew is currently at the end of his contract and his future is being decided by the German Association.