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Michael Ballack

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Michael Ballack (born September 26, 1976 in Görlitz, Saxony) is a German footballer. A midfielder, he is the current captain of the German national team, and plays club football for Chelsea in the English Premier League.

Career

Chemnitz

His parents sent him to train with the side when he was seven years old. He later moved on to FC Karl-Marx-Stadt (renamed Chemnitzer FC in 1990). His father had played second-division football himself in Germany. Unusual for his early age was Ballack's ability to use both feet with equal authority.

In 1995, Ballack earned his first professional contract, thanks to his impressive performances in the role of central midfielder. He was dubbed the "Little Kaiser," in reference to Franz Beckenbauer, who was nicknamed "The Kaiser." His professional debut came on August 4, 1995, on the first day of the new 2. Bundesliga season. Chemnitz lost the game 2-1, against VfB Leipzig.

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At the end of the season, during which Ballack made fifteen appearances, Chemnitz were relegated to the multi-tiered, regional third division. For Ballack himself, however, that season held one great success: on March 26, 1996, he made his debut for Germany's Under-21 side.

The following season, Ballack became a regular first-team player as Chemnitz missed out on an immediate return to the Bundesliga. He did not miss a game and scored ten goals for the "Sky Blues". It was not enough for Chemnitz to go up, but Ballack managed to win his own, personal promotion: in the summer of 1997, decorated German coach Otto Rehhagel of just-promoted 1. FC Kaiserslautern, signed Ballack at their return to top flight football.

Kaiserslautern

It was during the seventh game of the 1997–98 season, away to Karlsruher SC, that Rehhagel decided to throw Ballack into the Bundesliga for the first time, if only for the final five minutes of the encounter. On March 28, 1998, Ballack made his first-team debut against Bayer Leverkusen.

Ballack made sixteen appearances for his new team during the season as the club became the first-ever newly promoted team to lift the league title. In the following season, Ballack became both a regular (he made 30 appearances, scoring four goals) and one of the side's leading players. Kaiserslautern reached the quarter finals of the Champions League, but were knocked out by Bayern Munich.

On July 1, 1999, Ballack moved to Bayer Leverkusen at the age of 22, for a transfer fee of €4.1 million.

Bayer Leverkusen

It was at Bayer Leverkusen that Ballack made his big breakthrough. Coaches Christoph Daum and Klaus Toppmöller granted him an attacking role in the midfield. Ballack was instrumental to the success of Leverkusen, scoring 27 goals in the league and 9 in Europe over the course of his three seasons at the BayArena.

2002 was a season of disappointment for Bayer Leverkusen. In the German Bundesliga, the team surrendered a five point lead at the top of the table over the last three games of the season to finish second behind Borussia Dortmund, lost the Champions League final 2-1 to Real Madrid, and lost the German Cup final 4-2 to Schalke 04. These three runner-up finishes were dubbed 'Treble Horror'.

Ballack and Leverkusen teammates Bernd Schneider, Carsten Ramelow, and Oliver Neuville were even beaten finalists with Germany in the 2002 World Cup, although Ballack was suspended for the final itself. Ballack finished with 17 league goals, and his remarkable season led to him being voted into the uefa.com users' Team of 2002 as well being named German Footballer of the Year.

Bayern Munich

In spite of Spanish giants Real Madrid's interest, Ballack decided to sign with Bayern Munich in a €12.9 million deal in 2002 after his impressive performances in the World Cup. Bayern won the Bundesliga in his first season with 75 points, they also won the German Cup. In his second season however, Bayern lost their Bundesliga crown to Werder Bremen along with the cup.

In his third season with the Bavarian giants, Ballack enjoyed success in the 2004-05 season as Bayern Munich completed another double. New coach Felix Magath stated he was the only automatic starter in their midfield.[2] In four seasons at Bayern, Ballack won three Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal doubles and scored 47 goals in 135 matches. Between 1998 and 2005, Ballack notched up 61 goals in his domestic league.

However, Ballack's critics noted his frequent choking in important Champions League matches. This resulted in open public criticism from club general manager Uli Hoeneß, communications director Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and club president Franz Beckenbauer (all former Bayern players). Beckenbauer later went as far as to accuse Ballack of "saving his strength" for prospective employers after Ballack turned in an average performance in the 2006 DFB Cup final against Eintracht Frankfurt.[3]

Chelsea

Ballack agreed to join Chelsea on a free transfer on May 15, 2006.[4] During his last season as a Bayern player there were rumours of interest from Manchester United, Real Madrid and A.C. Milan,[5] but Ballack instead chose to go to Stamford Bridge. Shortly after arriving at Chelsea, Ballack stated that he hoped to end his career at Stamford Bridge.

Ballack's debut for Chelsea came on Monday July 31, 2006, during a practice match at UCLA's intramural football pitch. Chelsea presented him to the media the following day where the club also gave him his favoured number 13 shirt, worn throughout his career. On August 27, 2006, Ballack earned his English League debut for Chelsea against Blackburn Rovers, and his UEFA Champions League debut for Chelsea against Werder Bremen.

Ballack scored his first goal for Chelsea on September 21, 2006 in the Champions League group stage match against Werder Bremen. He received his first straight red card of his career in Chelsea's 1-0 win over Liverpool on September 17, 2006, after being judged to have stamped on Mohamed Sissoko's leg. Ballack scored his first goal in the English League on October 21, 2006 against Portsmouth at home with a header. His first FA Cup goal came in the 109th minute in a match against Blackburn Rovers on April 15, 2007. This goal resulted in Chelsea progressing into the FA Cup final. He scored eight goals in all competitions for the club in the 2006–07 season, including a fantastic free-kick against Everton at Goodison Park, as well as a superb half-volley against FC Porto which sent Chelsea through to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League.

On April 28, 2007, Chelsea released a statement on their official website, informing fans that Ballack had undergone ankle surgery in Munich. As a result of the surgery, Ballack did not play in the FA Cup Final against Manchester United, which Chelsea won 1–0 through Didier Drogba's extra time goal. This was Ballack's second trophy this season, his first being the Carling Cup.

Chelsea left Ballack out of their Champions League squad for the 2007-08 group stage as they realised that his injury would prevent him from playing any useful part and preferred to select the fully-fit Steve Sidwell. The German international had an ankle operation in the summer and Chelsea could not take the risk of him not regaining full fitness before the end of the Group Stage. Thus, Ballack could not play in the Champions League before the knockout stages began in February.[6] The club was only able to select 23 out of a possible 25 players for their Champions League squad due to the new UEFA regulations on 'association-trained players' and 'club-trained players'. Due to this regulation Chelsea were also unable to select young player Scott Sinclair and could only pick 23 players as their only 'club-trained player' was John Terry. For this reason it was deemed unwise to gamble on Ballack being fit at some point.[7]

He was absent for eight months with an ankle injury, during which he feared that his football career might be in danger of ending as he was getting older. He made his return to the side in Chelsea's 2–0 Carling Cup win over Liverpool on December 19. Ballack tallied an assist late in the game to striker Andriy Shevchenko. On December 26, Ballack made his league return in a thrilling game against Aston Villa which ended 4–4. He came on for Frank Lampard in the 26th minute after the latter had picked up a thigh injury. In first-half stoppage time, he won a penalty after being brought down in the box by Zat Knight which Andriy Shevchenko converted. In the 88th minute, with the scores tied at 3–3, Ballack stepped up to take a free-kick which he buried into the bottom left corner of the goal, capping off an excellent league return, but the match ended in a 4–4 draw.

Ballack captained the Chelsea team in the absence of captain John Terry, vice captain Frank Lampard in a 2–1 win over Newcastle on December 29, 2007. Ballack then played his 50th game in a Chelsea shirt in a 2–1 win against Fulham in which he scored the winning goal for Chelsea. He also scored the only goal that won the match for Chelsea against Reading to extend the blues' winning streak to a record of 9. Ballack has since become an influential player at Stamford Bridge and is credited with the new dawn of Avram Grant. Despite initial doubts over the partnership with Frank Lampard in midfield, the pair seemed to have shrugged off the initial problems and they are working well together. Michael Ballack is now part of the new look Chelsea. On March 1 Ballack scored against West Ham in Chelsea's 4–0 win. And, on March 5, he scored again, this time against Olympiacos CFP in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 in a 3-0 win.

With Chelsea's progress to the 2007–2008 Champions League Quarter-Finals, Michael Ballack is the only player to have reached the Champions League Quarter-Finals with four different clubs. He scored the winning goal in the 2-0 win in the 2nd leg of the Quarter-Finals against Fenerbahçe S.K., a victory that secured Chelsea a place in the Semi-Finals.

Ballack continued to score vital goals and on April 26, 2008, he scored a header and a penalty to give Chelsea a 2-1 win over Manchester United. He was named Man of The Match for his performance. It brought the two teams level in the race for the Premier League title only two matchdays before the end of the season.

The season ended on a low note for Ballack as Chelsea finished runners up in the Carling Cup, Premier League and UEFA Champions League. This completed a treble horror for Chelsea and Ballack. On 29 June 2008 Germany, captatined by Ballack, lost to Spain 1-0 in the final of Euro 2008. This became the second season in Ballack's career that he was runner up for four major trophies.

International career

On March 26, 1996, Ballack debuted for the national U21 team's encounter with Denmark, shortly after signing for Chemnitz. In all, he played 19 matches for this side, scoring four goals. Then, following his move to Kaiserslautern, national coach Berti Vogts called him up to the senior team.

Ballack's first appearance, however, did not come until April 28, 1999, when he came on as a substitute for Dietmar Hamann in a match against Scotland.

Ballack only played 63 minutes at Euro 2000. In the 2002 FIFA World Cup he scored in matches against USA and South Korea during the knock-out rounds as Germany reached the final, from which he was suspended.

Following Euro 2004, Jürgen Klinsmann replaced Rudi Völler at the helm of the national team and made Ballack the side's captain. Ballack is one of five national team captains in the current Chelsea team, along with Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast captain), Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine captain), Michael Essien (Ghana captain) and John Terry (England captain). In the 2006 FIFA World Cup he was unable to start in Germany's first game against Costa Rica due to a calf strain, but appeared in the following five matches. Germany were eliminated in the semi-finals, but they managed to clinch 3rd place. He was named Man of the Match in the games against Ecuador and Argentina,[8] and was included in FIFA's World Cup All Star Team.

On 6 February 2008, Ballack played his first match since returning from injury in a 3-0 friendly win over Austria.

Ballack started and captained Germany's first game of the UEFA Euro 2008 tournament against Poland. He scored a powerful free kick against Austria to secure Germany a 1-0 win and a place in the quarter-finals. In the quarter-finals he scored against Portugal to make the score 3-1 in their 3-2 win after feed by Bastian Schweinsteiger free kick in 60th minute. He muscled his way past his Chelsea teammate Paulo Ferreira for his goal and helped Germany to the semi-finals of the 2008 European Championships. He captained Germany in the final of Euro 2008, losing 1-0 to Spain. He was named to UEFA's Team of the Tournament.

Personal life

Ballack is married to Simone Lambe and they have three children: Louis, Emilio, and Jordi.

Honours

Personal

  • German Footballer of the Year : 2002,2003,2005
  • UEFA Club Midfielder of the Year : 2002
  • Selected in FIFA's 100 Greatest Living Players
  • Soccer Digest World Player of the Year : 2002

Club teams

Winner

  • Bundesliga : FC Kaiserslautern 1998, Bayern Munich 2003, 2005, 2006
  • German Cup : Bayern Munich 2003, 2005, 2006
  • Football League Cup : Chelsea 2007

Runner-up

  • UEFA Champions League : Bayer Leverkusen 2002, Chelsea 2008
  • Bundesliga : Bayer Leverkusen 1999, 2000, 2002, Bayern Munich 2004
  • Premier League : Chelsea 2007, 2008
  • German Cup : Bayer Leverkusen 2002
  • Football League Cup : Chelsea 2008

German national team

  • FIFA World Cup : Runner-up 2002
  • UEFA European Football Championship : Runner-up 2008
  • FIFA World Cup : Bronze medallist 2006
  • FIFA Confederations Cup Bronze medallist: 2005
UEFA Champions League Best Midfielder
2001–02
German Footballer of the Year
2002, 2003
German Footballer of the Year
2005
Germany captain
2004–Present

Comments

he is best player
he  is  a  great  footballer
ballack ? ..its all about C. Ronaldo and W.Rooney. now those two are some one to admire.. MANCESTER!!
Michael Ballack the best in the world!!!
michael ballack is top midfielder
goalscorer in history of europe
he score 35 goal in 75 matches
for germany .. Luís Figo is second with 32 goals in 127 matches for portugal national team .
 awesome footballer!!! and he is cute
Ballack is the best!!!
GOALS SCORING MACHINE FOR GERMANY. MOST IMPORTANT FOR GERMANY. BEST MIDFIELDER EVER, IN THE WORLD CUP. THIS GUY IS THE BEST. WITH CHELSEA HE WILL BE THE BEST AND BE THE CAPTAIN.
he is my hero/role model I want to be just like him

He´s without a doubt the BEST!!!

He is simply the greatest!

I think didier drogba is the best he has pace power and good in the air he is to gud but then there is cristiano ronaldo if they were on the same team that would be great because they both have quality from aj don killa

he has already scored a goal for chelsea against werder bremen

his girl friend is Simone Lambe not Victoria Fusz

Superb midfielder can score goal by long range shots.

References and Notes

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