For Per Mertesacker, winning the World Cup still hasn’t truly sunk in yet.

The defender came on in the last minute of extra time against Argentina to help Germany see out a 1-0 lead.

He wasn’t on the pitch for long, but Mertesacker remembers the brief involvement he had and the difficulty he had with coming to terms with Germany’s achievement.

Speaking to, Mertesacker said: “The first thing I really remember, is that I had a header.

“I cleared the ball and there was big buzz within myself to even have the chance come on and contribute on the pitch. Being able to do something on the pitch, in the final, was a huge moment for me.

mertesacker podolski world cup
(Photo by Markus Gilliar – Pool /Getty Images)

“There were two, three more minutes to go, but it felt more like 10, 15 minutes.

“When the final whistle was blown, it was difficult to understand, to realise you were world champion.

“It still seems to me very surreal, but one of the best moments in my football career.”

“You don’t know how to celebrate or with who. To let the emotion sink into youself is very difficult. You know what’s going to happen, but to realise it it takes years.

“Still, it feels like ‘okay, we’ve done it’ and it was huge, but to reflect on it and think how it felt, I cannot say.”

Although normally second choice behind the partnership of Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, Mertesacker started Germany’s final group game against the USA, and played the first two knockout games against Algeria.

He returned to the bench for the quarter-final win over France, the 7-1 win over Brazil in the semi-finals and for the final against Argentina.

Mario Gotze put Germany ahead with just seven minutes of extra time to go. Mertesacker was thrown on at the end to offer more defensive stability and leadership.

It was Mertesacker’s 104th and final cap for Germany, having played in three World Cups since his debut in 2004.

Mertesacker will call time on his club career at the end of this season before becoming Arsenal’s new academy director.