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Lahm comparison makes no sense, says Germany's Kimmich

Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - Germany News Conference - Stade Camille Fournier, Evian-Les-Bains, France - 24/6/16 - Germany's Joshua Kimmich during news conference. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - Germany News Conference - Stade Camille Fournier, Evian-Les-Bains, France - 24/6/16 - Germany's Joshua Kimmich during news conference. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

By Karolos Grohmann

EVIAN, France (Reuters) - Joshua Kimmich swiftly rejected on Friday comparisons with former Germany right back Philipp Lahm after his Euro 2016 appearances earned him praise from team mates and media alike.

The 21-year-old versatile defensive midfielder, who has taken the role of full back in the German team, even earned praise from the player he replaced for the game against Northern Ireland, Benedikt Hoewedes.

Hoewedes, who publicly congratulated Kimmich for his performance, is one of many Germans who have filled that position since Lahm played it for a decade and helped Germany win the 2014 World Cup before announcing his international retirement.

"I have also heard these comparisons (with Lahm) but they do not make sense," the soft-spoken Kimmich, an A-grade student in school, told reporters.

"Philipp is one of the best or the best fullback in the world. I just did it once for the national team. He did it over years. It was also my first season at the Bundesliga so you cannot compare it."

Emre Can, Kevin Grosskreutz, Sebastian Rudy and Matthias Ginter were among those deployed in that position with limited success as Germany struggled to find a worthy replacement for Lahm.

Only Kimmich seems to have risen to the challenge, boosted by a meteoric first Bundesliga season at Bayern Munich.

Kimmich, whose normal position is defensive midfielder, also played as full back in many Bayern matches this past season on his way to becoming a full international.

Lahm has shifted his club position at Bayern to midfield in recent seasons.

Kimmich replicated his form in his first Euro appearances with German media hailing the discovery of Lahm's natural successor.

"He did a great job against Northern Ireland. We knew we could trust him," said keeper Manuel Neuer, a Bayern team mate.

"He also played many international games for Bayern this season. He could always be trusted. The coach and the entire team had a good feeling," Neuer said.

Germany will be hoping the youngster can do it again when they take on Slovakia in the round of 16 on Sunday.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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