Two years ago Bastian Schweinsteiger was king of the Maracana. The toast of Germany, their heartbeat in winning the World Cup, he ended the night with gold in his hands and a medal round his neck.
One year ago Schweinsteiger left Bayern Munich and arrived at Manchester United for £15million — Louis van Gaal grinning and hailing the central midfielder’s ability to ‘control games’.
On Tuesday Schweinsteiger will arrive at Carrington in his Range Rover knowing there is no longer a place in the first-team dressing room reserved for him.
Already training with the kids, he has been told by Jose Mourinho to clear out his locker and relocate down the corridor to change alongside the secondary group.
That Schweinsteiger does not figure in Mourinho’s plans is not wholly unexpected given a difficult debut campaign in English football, but his spell at Old Trafford is becoming all the more ignominious as each day passes.
He turned 32 on Monday but the celebrations would surely have been muted, even while enjoying married life with new wife Ana Ivanovic.
He is a man with 24 major trophies to his name, including a Champions League title and eight Bundesliga wins. Then there is that hard-earned World Cup for which Germany owes him so much after one night of Bavarian grit against Argentina in Rio and so much more before.
Yet the ‘exciting challenge’ Schweinsteiger described on his unveiling in Manchester has quickly turned into a humbling experience for one of the greatest midfielders to have graced this generation. His brother, Tobi, tweeted: ‘No respect’ on Monday night.
Mourinho will have watched form and fitness quickly go missing under Van Gaal before the player featured in Germany’s recent push to the semi-final of the European Championship, however The Portuguese wants energy in the middle and cannot see the German featuring this year, particularly with the impending arrival of Paul Pogba from Juventus.
He will question why Schweinsteiger was fully fit for Germany yet largely absent at United, while it is understood senior players were disappointed he chose not to watch club matches when injured.
Van Gaal’s big summer signing has not started a club game since January.
Pep Guardiola knew what lay ahead last July, otherwise the new Manchester City manager would never have sanctioned the departure of a bona fide Bayern legend.
‘When he does not have injury problems, I am completely convinced he will do very well at Manchester United,’ said Guardiola last summer. ‘He is a top, top player. Unfortunately, during the last three years he was never in good condition.’
Mourinho knows, too. The new manager — hugely popular among the United squad, who are buying into his methods and enjoying a more personable approach — has put an authoritative stamp on Carrington by exiling Schweinsteiger.
Schweinsteiger now faces an anxious wait to see if any suitors will take on his huge wages of at least £130,000 a week.
United might be forced to subsidise any financial package if they are desperate to release him — AC Milan and Inter are credited with interest.
The veteran has two seasons remaining on his contract. Two years is a long time since Brazil; two years is a long time for a star to get changed with the Under 23s.