03.02.2023 19:15 h

Neuer dismisses calls to step down

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has brushed off calls to step down from the national side, saying he's "sure" he will return from a serious leg injury to play international football again.

In an interview with Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung and The Athletic published Friday, Neuer, 36, said he told coach Hansi Flick he would come back from the broken leg which has ruled him out for the remainder of the season.

"Hansi Flick got in touch, we are in contact. Hansi certainly assumes I will return and I will do everything for that.

"I'm sure I'll be able to do it."

Former West Germany goalkeeper Toni Schumacher has called for Neuer to step down and focus on club football, but the Bayern 'keeper said "everyone can make recommendations".

"When the time comes, I will look in the mirror, and tell myself the truth, as always.

"If I don't perform, I'll vacate my position, but I don't expect that to happen.

"Whoever is the best will play. If I want to play, I have to be the best.

"It's always been like that."

Neuer, who has 117 caps for the national side, will be 38 when Germany host the European Championship in 2024.

Neuer spoke publicly for the first time on Qatar since returning from the World Cup, saying the team had "relatively little support from back home" which gave them the feeling "we had a millstone around our necks".

"We could have perhaps done with a bit more support."

The German Football Association decided Neuer would not wear a "One Love" armband in support of diversity and human rights, after FIFA threatened sporting sanctions for any team doing so.

In response, the German XI was pictured covering their mouths before their first match of the World Cup against Japan.

Neuer however denied the team was distracted by the gesture. Germany were eliminated at the group stage for the second straight World Cup.

"We discussed (it)... and made a decision. And that was it. After that, we put our attention to football."

The 2014 World Cup winner also spoke out about the firing of long-time goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic, who arrived at the club alongside Neuer in 2011.

Tapalovic's firing was reported to be due to a fallout with coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Neuer said "it was the most brutal thing I have experienced in my career - and I have experienced a lot", explaining that people "burst into tears".

Bayern signed former Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer to replace Neuer in the winter.

The side started 2023 with three straight 1-1 draws and now sit just one point clear of second-placed Union Berlin.