Michael Ballack : A Look Back at a Glittering and an Emotional Career

The entire credit for football fans outside Europe who support Germany can be directly or indirectly be given to Michael Ballack. His aggression, passion, dominance and control of the midfield not only saw great success foe the clubs he played but also paved way for the revolution of attacking and beautiful football played by the current German National Team.  


Former Germany captain Michael Ballack quietly announced his retirement at the age of 36 on Tuesday, ending a career in which he played for top clubs like Bayern Munich and Chelsea but leaving the game without a major international title despite being the defining German player of his generation.  


Ballack will go down as one of the greats of German football, but the biggest titles always eluded him. Let us have a quick look at his football career with clubs and country and the many title shots he had throughout his career.

Bayer Leverkusen ( 99-’02)

  • Was granted the attacking midfielder role for the first time here.
  • In 2000, Leverkusen needed only a draw against minnows Unterhaching to win the title, but an own goal by Ballack sent the team to a crushing 0–2 defeat, thus gifting the title to Bayern Munich.
  • In 2002, Laverkusen surrendered a 5 point lead with 3 games to play and lost the title to Borussia Dortmund. They also lost the German Cup Final to Schalke 4-2.
  • The 2-1 loss in the Champions League final to Real Madrid completed a painful season for Leverkusen. These three runner-up finishes were dubbed a “Treble Horror”. And Bayer Leverkusen was dubbed “BayerNeverkusen” in English, the German nickname became Vizekusen. But the worst was to follow that year.
  • Ballack was instrumental in guiding the German national team to the Finals of the FIFA World Cup but was suspended for the finals and eventually Germany lost the Final to Brazil completing four major Runner Up finishes.
Bayern Munich (2002-2006)
  • He had a successful spell at Bayern. In four seasons at Bayern, Ballack won three Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal doubles and scored 47 goals in 135 matches.
  • He was stated a “choker” by critics in important Champions League matches hence the Champions League still eluded him.
  • The 2006 World Cup was another So Close, yet so far scenario. Germany were hosts of the tournament and, with Ballack as captain and it was his last World Cup. Sadly, they lost in the Semi’s to eventual winners Italy and Ballack had to be satisfied with a third place finish.

Chelsea (2006-2010)

  • Ballack joined Chelsea after the World Cup on free. He stated immediately that he wished to end his career with Chelsea.
  • He soon became a fan favorite as well as a popular figure among the players.
  • He had a good start and his first year(2006-07) ended with a Domestic Cup double for the blues.
  • 2007-08 saw his bad luck from Leverkusen continue in Chelsea as the Blues finished Runners Up in the Premier League, Carling Cup as well as the Champions League finals(the game which would have probably hurt him the most). This completed another treble horror for Ballack.
  • 2008 Euro saw a Ballack and Germany reach yet another final and face yet another disappointmenting defeat to Spain.
  • Just like 2002, Ballack finished the year as a Runner Up FOUR times.
  • 2008-09 was not a great season with Chelsea finishing as runners up yet again and a controversial exit from the Champions League Semi Finals against Barcelona, a tournament they were the favorites to win.
  • Ballack’s last year at Chelsea at least ended on a high. He won the double(league and F.A. Cup). 
  • He was injured late in the season which saw him leave the club and was also forced him out of the World Cup.


Leverkusen and Retirement

Ballack’s last leg of his career saw him injured most of the time and he said he was more than happy to end his career with his home club Leverkusen. Ballack retired on 2nd October 2012.


Despite numerous Runner Up medals, Ballack was quoted saying he was happy with his career and was quoted “At 36, I look back at a long and wonderful time in professional football, it was a privilege to work together with first-rate coaches and fantastic teammates.”

There have been a few greater players in the world who have not lifted the world cup. But if one has to name the greatest player not to win either the World Cup, Continental Cup or the Champions League, then it has to be Michael Ballack!

Call him a big game choker, Mr. Runner Up or Unlucky 13, he will still be remembered as one of the greats to play football and definitely a Football Legend!! 

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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