STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger earned his 100th cap on Tuesday in his team's 5-3 World Cup qualifying win over Sweden on Tuesday to join an exclusive club of German footballers.
The 29-year-old holding midfielder, described by Germany coach Joachim Loew as the team's brain, won his first cap in 2004 as part of a "wild youngsters" generation along with fellow centurions Philipp Lahm and Lukas Podolski.
"It is always great to have lots of goals but 5-3 was a bit strange (for a 100th international)," Schweinsteiger, who has returned to action recently after an ankle injury during the summer, told reporters.
"For me it is just good to be moving well. I did not have a good pre-season preparation and it is not easy but I am trying to get back to the old form. I still need to work on it.".
Since his 2004 debut, Schweinsteiger has notched 23 goals for Germany. On Tuesday he became the 10th German to notch at least 100 international caps, joining the likes of Lothar Matthaeus (150 caps), Franz Beckenbauer and Juergen Klinsmann.
"Dear Basti, I am happy to be able to respond to your special congratulations to my 100th cap just a few weeks later with the same level of respect and with a genuine, written 'God bless you!'," Germany captain Lahm wrote in Bild newspaper on Tuesday.
"A World Cup title would of course be the ideal fit...Let us go after this goal together, starting with a win against Sweden this evening."
Having moved from the flank into his favoured holding midfield position some four years ago, the Bayern Munich man has matured into a natural leader for club and country, helping Germany book their spot at next year's World Cup in Brazil.
Now sporting greying temples instead of his once trademark bleached spiky hair, Schweinsteiger looks on track for his third straight World Cup.
With three-time winners Germany through to their 16th consecutive World Cup, a feat equalled by Brazil only, Schweinsteiger could not have hoped for a bigger stage in his latest attempt to land the first major trophy for Germany since 1996.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by John Mehaffey)