Handed the reins after an encouraging four-match interim stint, the former defender deployed a bold, attack-minded side built upon a three-man backline and got an impressive response in Dortmund.
England looked comfortable in possession and a far larger threat than the World Cup winners, only to be caught cold as Podolski’s 130th and final Germany appearance ended with a fairytale strike that secured a 1-0 win.
England defender Gary Cahill admitted a failure to punish Germany saw Gareth Southgate’s first match as permanent manager end in a 1-0 defeat.
“If you looking at chances we had the better chances in the game, as simple as that,” Cahill said afterwards
. “I think we will look back and reflect if we take our chances we would have won that game.
“It’s a learning curve for us.”
Cahill, who was England captain on the night, said the terror attack on Westminster had been on the team’s mind before the match.
He added: “Obviously that’s terrible but we were focused on the job we had to do.”
It was a sickener considering how well Southgate’s men performed — but given how 2016 panned out for the Three Lions after starting it with a remarkable comeback win in Berlin, perhaps the display is more important than the result.
Southgate’s experimental three-man defence worked well and his attackers’ intensity caused no end of problems, with Adam Lallana hitting the post as England looked to turn first-half dominance into an opening goal.
Germany lacked such force in their play as the focus on Podolski’s final appearance seemed to take the edge off their play, only for the former Arsenal man to wind back the years by unleashing a stunning 25-yard goal.
It was a fitting end to a fine international career on a night of promise for England, even if it ended Southgate’s four-match unbeaten run as manager.
Elsewhere Scotland drew 1-1 with Canada in their friendly international at Easter Road.
The Scots were stunned in the 10th minute when defenders Lee Wallace and Charlie Mulgrew failed to deal with a Maxim Tissot cross from the left and when the ball fell kindly to Fraser Aird and the former Rangers player dispatched his shot from 12 yards past Scotland keeper Allan McGregor.
Scotland attacker Robert Snodgrass hit the post but more inadvertently than intentionally before Steven Naismith equalised when he turned a wayward shot by Cairney shot into the net.
ter Stegen, Kimmich, Rudiger, Hummels, Hector, Weigl (Can 66), Kroos, Brandt (Schurrle 59), Podolski (Rudy 84), Sane, Werner (Muller 77).
Trapp, Mustafi, Howedes, Sule, Leno.
Hart, Keane, Cahill, Smalling (Stones 85), Walker, Livermore (Ward-Prowse 82), Dier, Bertrand (Shaw 83), Alli (Lingard 71), Lallana (Redmond 66), Vardy (Rashford 70).
Forster, Clyne, Barkley, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Defoe, Sterling, Heaton.
Damir Skomina (Slovenia).