Berlin: Thomas Mueller admits having been surprised by accusations of arrogance and disrespect for saying Germany's 8-0 rout of minnows San Marino had "nothing to do with professional sport".
On Sunday, Alan Gasperoni, the San Marino National Olympic Commitee's press officer, posted an open letter to Mueller on Facebook, listing 10 reasons Germany's trip to the minnows for a 2018 World Cup qualifier was useful.
Mueller said he was taken aback by Gasperoni's angry rant, which poked fun at the cliched German habit of wearing white socks with sandals and accused the Germans of thinking they could win by "bullying" San Marino.
Having captained Germany in Tuesday's goalless draw with Italy in Milan, Mueller said he had meant no disrespect.
"I was a bit surprised, because I hadn't meant that at all," Mueller told German broadcaster ARD.
"I had been asked a few questions, which I had answered honestly and seriously, and had tried to look at both sides.
"The reader often reads only the headline and then makes an impression, which I had once again underestimated."
Last Friday's 8-0 drubbing in heavy rain kept Germany top of their 2018 World Cup qualifying group with a perfect record of four wins while San Marino, ranked 199 places below the Germans by Fifa, remain bottom.
When asked about the value of such international miss-matches, Mueller admitted the question was "hard to answer", adding "romantics say such games have their place".
Mueller says his "nothing to do with professional football" comment was taken out of context.
"My statement in the interview after the match on Friday related to the question of the sporting value of the game in San Marino in relation to the risk of injury," Mueller wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday.
"It was taken out of context by some media, which seems to have given some people the wrong impression, influenced by a sometimes humorous social media post by a former official of the San Marino Football Association.
"I want to clarify here that I replied in the answer respectfully to illuminate both sides of the topic."
Mueller says he will not shy from speaking his mind.
"I will continue to express my opinion in the future, even if I run the risk of getting a few flies buzzing around my ears," added the 27-year-old.
The matter could be put to bed over a beer.
Gasperoni has apologised for poking fun at Germans in his rant and wants to meet Mueller when San Marino play the return qualifier in Nuremberg next June.
"I am sure everything will be settled with a hand shake and when we are in Germany, we could go for a beer together," added Gasperoni.
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Updated Date: Nov 17, 2016 16:35:21 IST