World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has warned of the rise of populism ahead of September's national elections in Germany and said the right-wing must not be allowed to take power.
With six months to go until the elections, there are fears the right-wing populist party Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) will gain seats in Germany's Bundestag parliament.
The protest party surfed a wave of angst and anger over Germany's mass refugee and migrant influx that peaked in 2015 but has recently slipped in opinion polls into single digits as arrivals have dropped sharply.
Lahm, 33, is captain of champion club Bayern Munich and a major celebratory in football-mad Germany.
In an interview with German daily Die Welt on Sunday, he spoke out against right-wing politics.
"I think, presumably like most people, that Germany should not be allowed to go right-wing," said Lahm, who retired from international football after Germany won the 2014 World Cup.
"Them - the wrong ones, the populists - should not be allowed to gain more power.
"We have been working for years to make Germany a cosmopolitan country.
"We should do everything to make sure it stays that way.
"We live in a healthy society and that should not be allowed to be lost."
Lahm will retire from all football at the end of the season after 14 highly-successful years for club and country, so his words will carry weight with voters.
The footballer says he took heart when Dutch far-right MP Geert Wilders was beaten into second place in the recent Dutch elections and hopes Marine Le Pen will not win the French elections at the end of April.
"I can't blend things like that out, certainly not, these are current developments in many countries that determine our lives," added Lahm.
"I think we should all deal with it.
"The vote in Holland is the latest example. There the right-wing populists -- thank god -- were not as strong as had been feared.
"But in the spring, France will vote, then in autumn so will Germany.
"I think it is important that we not only think about it, but that we talk about it."
Lahm's comments come after the AfD last year attacked two members of Germany's ethnically diverse 2014 World Cup winning-squad -- Jerome Boateng and Mesut Ozil -- both the sons of immigrants.
Alexander Gauland, the AfD's deputy leader, made racially disparaging remarks in a newspaper when he said: "People find him good, but they don't want to have a Boateng as a neighbour".
Then, the AfD's leader Frauke Petry attacked Ozil for not singing the German national anthem and accused the devout Muslim of peddling a political Islamic agenda.