Schweinsteiger

Ten Things to Know About New Chicago Fire Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger

One of the most decorated midfielders of his generation, Bastian Schweinsteiger was unveiled Tuesday as the newest member of the Chicago Fire. Here's a look at some of what's made the German World Cup winner so noteworthy on and off the pitch:

• Schweinsteiger grew up in the town of Kolbermoor, less than an hour’s drive from the Allianz Arena where he would become a fixture for one of the world’s great clubs in Bayern Munich. Schweinsteiger initially signed with the club as a youth player in 1998 at the age of 14.

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• As a young athlete, Schweinsteiger was as talented as a competitive ski racer as he was as a footballer. Schweinsteiger, whose father owned a sporting goods shop, routinely thrived when competing against childhood friends like Felix Neureuther, who went on to represent Germany in three Winter Olympics.

• Schweinsteiger's 107th career cap with Germany proved to be his most glorious, putting in a warrior's effort as Die Mannscheft outlasted Argentina in the 2014 FIFA World Cup final in Brazil. Schweinsteiger was bloodied by a Sergio Aguero elbow in the 110th minute, but still returned to the pitch in time to thwart Argentina's last-gasp efforts after Mario Gotze's 114th-minute winner.

 

• Just a few weeks after claiming World Cup glory, Schweinsteiger received a taste of MLS when he joined up with Bayern Munich on its preseason tour of the US, taking on the best of MLS in the 2014 MLS All-Star Game in Portland. Schweinsteiger was among a group of the recently crowned World Cup champions to play a limited role in the affair, recording an 8-minute stint in the second half of a match won 2-1 by the MLS squad.

• Schweinsteiger is married to Ana Ivanovic, who recently retired from an ultra-successful professional tennis career. Ivanovic, a Serbian native, reached No. 1 in the world in 2008 when she captured the French Open singles championship, finishing with 15 WTA titles and receiving the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Humanitarian of the Year award in 2009. She also was the 2007 recipient of the May Award, Serbia’s highest sporting honor that also was awarded to Chicago Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic in 2016.

• Schweinsteiger becomes the 11th World Cup winner to play in Major League Soccer and just the second to be in the league while his team stood as the reigning World Cup champions. He joins NYCFC DPs and fellow European greats David Villa (Spain) and Andrea Pirlo (Italy) as well as Orlando City SC's Kaka (Brazil) as current World Cup winners in the league, adding to the historical list that also includes: Branco (Brazil), Denilson (Brazil), Youri Djorkaeff (France), Thierry Henry (France), Kleberson (Brazil), Lothar Matthaus (West Germany) and Alessandro Nesta (Italy).

• Schweinsteiger recorded an incredible and even 500 first team appearances over 13 years for Bayern Munich, scoring in his final match and receiving a hero's sendoff ahead of his eventual move to Manchester United. 

• Schweinsteiger has one very obvious connection to his new club in the form of Arne Friedrich, his longtime teammate with the German National Team. Schweinsteiger provided a remarkable assist on Friedrich's goal in the 2010 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals vs. Argentina, a 4-0 win for Die Mannschaft. Friedrich joined the Fire on March 7, 2012, and helped mentor Austin Berry to that season's MLS Rookie of the Year honors before retiring in June, 2013. 

• The German midfielder was in the headlines last month for a move he made away from the pitch. It recently came to light that, back in 2011, Schweinsteiger had written an uplifting letter to a Bundesliga referee who was coping with depression and had attempted suicide. "There's often setbacks in life," he reportedly wrote to the referee. "But you have to bounce back each time. I wish you all the best."

• Schweinsteiger is a longtime friend of NBA star and German compatriot Dirk Nowitzki. The Dallas Mavericks forward has long been pals with many members of Bayern Munich, and Schweinsteiger made sure to congratulate Nowitzki after he reached the 30,000-point plateau earlier this month.