Lukas Podolski dedicated Germany’s 4-0 World Cup thrashing of Portugal to countryman Michael Schumacher, after the news emerged that the Formula 1 legend has emerged from a five and a half month medically induced coma.
Substitute striker Podolski declared after the match, “He’s a good friend, a good guy and he’s also crazy about football. Maybe he watched the game or he knew about the result.”
Schumacher had been in a coma after a skiing accident in the French Alps on 29 December, the 45 year old being treated in ICU at Grenoble Hospital.
The seven-time world champion is now at a Swiss hospital in Lausanne, closer to his family’s home and out of the coma.
The BBC reports that F1 driver Lewis Hamilton, world champion in 2008 and the German’s replacement in the Mercedes team, said it was “amazing” to hear of Schumacher’s progress.
“Everywhere I go people ask about him,” said the Englishman, who drives for Mercedes, the last team Schumacher drove for before retiring. “I could be at a petrol station in the States and people would ask about him.”
He added: “It’s really positive to hear thatthere is some progress. To hear he is now really in that wake-up phase is really, really encouraging.”
A number of other sports stars from around the world took to Twitter to welcome the news of Schumacher’s improvement.
“Good start of the week with the news of Michael!” wrote Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, world champion in 2005 and 2006. “So happy this is going in the good direction.”
Jenson Button, another ex-world champion, added: “Great to hear some positive news about Michael’s condition.”
Niki Lauda told German television RTL: “I’m extremely happy. I always believed that this news would come. Now I wish he gets through the rehab as quickly as possible and is back with us in Formula 1.”
World heavyweight boxing champion Vladimir Klitschko urged Schumacher to “keep on fighting”, while former England footballer Rio Ferdinand tweeted that Schumacher was an “inspiration”.
NBA star Pau Gasol of Spain said, “Very glad to hear the news about Michael Schumacher! Keep strong #Schumi, I wish you all the best in your recovery!” (GP247)