Michael Ballack's Germany career is not over, according to German Football Association president Dr Theo Zwanziger.
Ballack has not played for the national team for more than 12 months, but he remains their captain and coach Joachim Low claims he will return as soon as he is fit enough.
At 34, time is running out for the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder, but Zwanziger insists he deserves another chance to play for his country.
"Nobody knows if he will make it - he is coming towards the end of his career,'' he told SWR television. "But he is not an old drag. He is still the captain of Germany and, given his performances in the past, we owe him an option of a return.''
Ballack missed the World Cup last summer due to an ankle injury he picked up in the FA Cup final for Chelsea and he has struggled to prove his fitness with several minor injury setbacks since joining Leverkusen in the summer.
However, he has played in Leverkusen's last few games and received praise from Low for his performance against Cologne recently, even if it was not quite enough to earn him a recall to the national team. And Zwanziger believes he has nothing to prove to anybody.
"He was unfortunate to miss the World Cup and a player who has done so much for German football deserves the chance to come back,'' he added.