Sports

Germany's World Cup-winning team decorated with the nation's highest honor for sports

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Philipp Lahm, former captain of the German national soccer team, left, pose with the Team's Silver Laurel Leaf of the Federal Republic in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014, which was handed over by German President Joachim Gauck. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Philipp Lahm, former captain of the German national soccer team, left, pose with the Team's Silver Laurel Leaf of the Federal Republic in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014, which was handed over by German President Joachim Gauck. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)  (The Associated Press)

  • Former captain of the German national soccer team Philipp Lahm, German President Joachim  Gauck, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and player Mario Goetze, front from left, pose with the World Cup after the team received the Silver Laurel Leaf of the Federal Republic in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014, which was handed over by President Gauck. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

    Former captain of the German national soccer team Philipp Lahm, German President Joachim Gauck, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and player Mario Goetze, front from left, pose with the World Cup after the team received the Silver Laurel Leaf of the Federal Republic in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014, which was handed over by President Gauck. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)  (The Associated Press)

The president of Germany has decorated the World Cup-winning squad with the country's highest honor for sports, rewarding what he called a "convincing performance that is recognized ungrudgingly by all its opponents."

President Joachim Gauck, joined by Chancellor Angela Merkel, presented the players with the Silver Laurel Leaf in a ceremony at the head of state's Bellevue Palace.

Speaking a day after the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Gauck noted that Germany's fourth World Cup is its first as a reunited nation. West Germany won the title shortly before reunification in 1990.

World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm, who retired from the national team after the tournament, thanked Gauck and Merkel for their support. Both traveled to the World Cup and visited the Germany dressing room.