Bastian Schweinsteiger is back where his legendary career started, and he can't wait to step on the pitch he called home for so many years.
Schweinsteiger and the rest of his Chicago Fire teammates have traveled to Munich ahead of his Bayern Munich tribute match on Tuesday; the German legend will play 45 minutes with the Fire and 45 minutes with Bayern, pulling on the Bavarian club's famous shirt in a match for the first time since 2015, when he made the last of his 500 appearances for the club.
“Stepping on the field, especially Allianz Arena, it’s a huge thing, the moment when you exit the dressing room and you see the crowd, big stadium, supporters. It’s going to be great,” Schweinsteiger said on Sunday. “I’m quite sure every player on my team will enjoy, and I think too the supporters who are traveling for the match.”
The Fire, currently mired in a nine-game winless run, won't return to MLS play until Sept. 16. Bayern, meanwhile, got their Bundesliga campaign underway Friday with a 3-1 win over Hoffenheim.
Chicago head coach Veljko Paunovic is honored to be a part of Schweinsteiger's big day and feels a burden of responsibility for his side to represent themselves, and Schweinsteiger, well against the German champions.
“We are overwhelmed by all of the emotions that are surrounding this game,” Paunovic said. “Especially how much the fans here and the people in this facility love Basti. I think that’s something that tells a lot and that propels a kind of responsibility for us to be very competitive and represent our club, represent Basti and represent ourselves in the best possible way."
Paunovic continues with effusive praise of his No. 31, crediting Schweinsteiger with the total impact he's had with the club since debuting.
"Basti represents all of the values that our club has always had, has now and will have in the future," Paunovic said. "Since he came in Chicago and in the league, it raised all the levels in our league and in our club. We are very grateful for him being with us, not only his talent on the field, but off the field he has many. He helps the youngsters, the players to get better, to give their best always on the field and to learn from him, so it’s a huge, immense impact that he has right now in our club."
Schweinsteiger, a Bayern youth product, played for the Bavarian giants for 13 years and helped the club win the UEFA Champions League in 2013, the same year in which he earned Bundesliga Player of the Year honors. He won eight Bundesliga titles with the club and seven DFB-Pokal German Cup championships.