Michael Ballack is a retired German footballer. One of the top goal scorers in the history of the German national team, Ballack was selected by Pele as one of FIFA’s 125 Greatest Living Players and as the UEFA Club Midfielder Of The Year in 2002. Winning the German Footballer of the Year award three times, Ballack was known for his passing range, powerful shot, physical strength and commanding presence in midfield.
Ballack began his career as a youth at Chemnitz, his local team. Ballack went on to make his professional debut in 1995. In March of 1996, Ballack made his debut for Germany’s Under-21 side. Transferring to FC Kaiserslautern in 1997, Ballack won the Bundesliga in his first season at the club; his first major honour. During the 1998-99 season, Ballack became a first-team regular and earned his first senior national cap for Germany.
Moving to Bayer Leverkusen in 1999 for a staggering €4.1 million, the 2001-02 season saw him win a slew of runners-up medals. Bayer Leverkusen finished second in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal as well as the UEFA Champions League. In the 2002 World Cup, Germany lost to Brazil, a team in which Ballack was a part of.
A €12.9 million move to FC Bayern Munich saw Ballack gain further honours: the team won the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double in 2003, 2005 and 2006.
Ballack had become a prolific goalscorer from midfield, scoring 58 goals for Bayern between 2002 and 2006. He joined Premier League club Chelsea, in mid-2006 and won his first English honours, the FA Cup and Football League Cup, all in his first season at the club. Injury ruled out much of 2007 but he returned the following season, helping Chelsea reach their first ever Champions League final. He also went on to win the FA Cup again in 2009 and then once more as part of a league and cup double in 2010.
Internationally, Ballack has played in three UEFA European Football Championship‘s alongside two FIFA World Cup‘s. Ballack was appointed captain of Germany’s national team in 2004. Ballack scored consecutive game-winning goals in the quarter-final and semi-final to help his country to the 2002 World Cup Final. Ballack led the team to the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup as well as the Euro 2008 final.
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