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The man who made the number 13 auspicious

Sep 23, 2014 19:34

Michael Ballack – The man who made the number 13 auspicious 

If we have a look at the list of one of the best midfielders ever to grace the game, one name surely has to be in my top 10 list; Michael Ballack. Little Kaiser, as he was fondly known in Germany, is a perfect modern day midfielder.

He is more known for his illustrious spells at Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Chelsea. An omnipresent personality in the midfield, the German dynamo was a key cog in all the teams he ever played for be it his club sides or for the national team. Many don't know this but Ballack is a second generation footballer. His father, Stephan also played in the second tier of German football.

At the age of seven, he was one of the most promising talents in Germany. Even at that age, he was known for his composure on ball and his ability to play with both the feet with aplomb. After a few seasons in second tier German football, Michael finally got his big break in the new found Bundesliga through FC Kaiserslautern. Ballack was part of that historic team who became the only promoted team to win the Bundesliga in its first season. He was more or less used in a defensive midfield role until he made his move to Bayer Leverkusen.

It was there where the world saw ‘The Capitano’. Leverkusen’s first team coaches Christoph Daum and Klaus Toppmöller promoted Ballack into a more advanced role in the midfield. From there on it was no turning back for him. At 22, Michael Ballack was the name to reckon with in Bundesliga. But he never tasted glory with them. Irony was that he was central to Leverkusen’s title charge in 2000 and he was the same person who killed it with an cruel own goal. Leverkusen only needed a draw to clinch the title but Ballack’s own goal dashed their dream.

Michael Ballack won his share of trophies at Bayern Munich and registered himself in the annals of footballing folklore as one of the most potent attacking midfielders of his generation.

Many players are known for their club performances, but Ballack is one of those players, who were also known for his exhilarating Die Mannschaft performances. He was instrumental in German teams who were domineeringly unlucky at 2002 and 2006 World Cups. He was the undisputed leader in that team and a key to their third place finish at their home World cup in 2006. He single handedly led them to the semi finals in 2006 after losing out to eventual champions, Italy. In 2002, he was at the crux of that flamboyant German team which blazed their way to the finals. It was even said that, if Ballack had played in that final the result would have been a lot different than 2-0 mauling by the Ronaldo led Brazil.

Such was his presence in Die Mannschaft that between June 2005 and Ballack's retirement, Germany never lost a game in which he scored. Due to his inspirational leadership qualities, he was called Little Kaiser along the lines of legendary Franz Beckenbauer. Beckenbauer was known as ‘Der Kaiser’.

In spite of all this Ballack never got the appreciation that he deserved. His tussle with Jochim Loew during the 2010 World Cup is well known. He was  the heart and soul of an all conquering Bayern side in the mid 2000's. He may have made number 13 an iconic one, but it seemed that the number always got the better of him at grand occasions. Despite all this, Michael ballack will always be one of the best footballers in our all-time greatest footballers’ list.

We here at the Football mind celebrate the number, the Legend. Michael Ballack.

Michael Ballack’s achievements in a nutshell -


  • Bundesliga: 1997–98

Bayer Leverkusen

  • Bundesliga: Runner-up 2001–02
  • DFB-Pokal: Runner-up 2001–02
  • UEFA Champions League: Runner-up 2001–02

Bayern Munich

  • Bundesliga: 2002–03, 2004–05, 2005–06
  • DFB-Pokal: 2002–03, 2004–05, 2005–06
  • DFB-Ligapokal: 2004


  • Premier League: 2009–10
  • FA Cup: 2006–07, 2008–09, 2009–10
  • League Cup: 2006–07
  • FA Community Shield: 2009
  • UEFA Champions League: Runner-up 2007–08


  • FIFA World Cup
  • Runners-up: 2002
  • Third-Place: 2006
  • UEFA European Football Championship Runner-up: 2008
  • FIFA Confederations Cup Third Place: 2005


  • UEFA Club Midfielder of the Year: 2002
  • German Footballer of the Year: 2002, 2003, 2005
  • FIFA World Cup Team of the Tournament: 2002, 2006
  • UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament: 2004, 2008
  • FIFA Confederations Cup Silver Shoe Winner: 2005
  • FIFA 100

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