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The powerful midfielder ended his playing career today after 17 glorious years representing some of Europe’s most prestigious clubs as well as captaining his home nation Germany.
Ballack’s journey began in a historic German town named Gorlitz. His father was also a footballer, playing for the local side, Chemnitzer FC. Ballack began his professional career at Chemnitzer FC at the age of 19 in 1995, making 67 appearances in just two years. It wasn’t long before Ballack joined one of Germany’s bigger clubs and in 1997 he joined FC Kaiserslautern.
Ballack played a vital part in the Kaiserslautern team that caused shockwaves around the world of football by winning the Bundesliga in their first year in Germany’s number one league. The then 22 year old Ballack played 16 games on Kaiserslautern’s route to glory but after just two seasons at the club, Ballack was on the move again. This time, an even bigger club by the name of Bayer Leverkusen came calling.
Due to his more attacking role, many feel Ballack was at his best while at Leverkusen. He scored 27 goals in his 79 games at the club, an impressive goalscoring record considering he was bought primarily as a box to box midfielder.
The year 2002 was a particularly special one for Ballack as he played in the Champions League final (a 2-1 loss to Real Madrid in Glasgow) and in the 2002 World Cup where Ballack scored twice on Germany’s route to the final. Sadly for Ballack, he was suspended for the World Cup final, which Germany lost 2-0 to Brazil.
In the summer of 2002, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were in a battle to sign Ballack with the German deciding to go to Munich in a deal worth €12.9 million. During his four year spell at Bayern, Ballack further added to his status as a world class player and won three Bundesliga titles. Ballack’s 47 goals in 135 matches did a lot to make Bayern Germany’s most feared club in the mid 2000’s.
In 2006, Ballack made another move, this time switching countries as well as clubs. The then Premier League champions Chelsea were the team who signed the German international and after a difficult first season in English football, Ballack blossomed in the 2007/08 season, helping Chelsea to the Champions League final. Ballack added to his collection of prestigious medals by being part of the Premier League winning Chelsea side of 2010.
After two years at his old club Bayer Leverkusen, Ballack decided to hang up his boots stating: ‘’At the age of 36, I can look back on a long and wonderful time in professional football. As a child I could never have dreamt of having such a career’’.
Ballack has had a truly magnificent career achieving so much and remaining a world class player throughout most of his career. A genuine footballing legend.
Written by Joshua Sodergren
Follow him on Twitter @chelsealad1365
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