One the most talented footballers of his generation played his last game on Wednesday.
Michael Ballack's trophy cabinet sure doesn’t do justice to his talents and abilities. A captain who led by example and never gave up. Ballack will surely be missed on the field.
A tough tackling no non-sense midfielder, who had a ferocious appetite for competition, tried in vain to better his runners up medals, but failed. One of the best set-piece takers and a truly remarkable two footed player stood out in almost every team he played for. His ability to play with both his feet was recognised by scouts at a tender age. He dragged his team out of difficulties almost single handedly.
Though he did win almost every league winners medal with his team, it’s the European and international trophies that eluded him.
Over the years, he single handedly dragged the German national team over the finish line. Ever since he made his debut for “Die manschaft” he has been a true asset.
His goals, be it free-kicks, penalties or from open play, were decisive in Germany finishing runners up in the 2002 and 2006 World Cup, as well as runners up in the European Championships of 2008.
He just couldn’t pass the final hurdle.
European glory with clubs did not come easy either. Runners up with a considerably weak side (Bayern Leverkusen) did raise his profile though. At Chelsea, he also could only manage a runners up medal in the 2008 Champions League final.
The following year, they were denied a chance in the final, losing out controversially to Barcelona in the infamous semi-final at Stamford Bridge. His farewell though has been disappointing.
An injury forced him out of the team for the 2010 World Cup and he found it difficult to get back in ever since. An offer for a farewell match and a 100th cap was made, but Michael didn't want a sympathy match and denied the opportunity labelling it a farce.
He made his displeasure, with the way he was handled, quite clear publicly and fell out with the national team coach Joachim Low.
His relation with his successor Philip Lahm also soured following an exchange of words regarding the captaincy of the national team.
Many consider him to be one of the greatest not to have tasted the ultimate glory. When asked about it, he once said that it would be difficult to name the trophies other greats like Johan Cruyff and Luis Figo won during their time either. But they are well known for their style of play, their leadership. Ballack too would fall under this category.
He may have not won all the trophies there were to win, but that doesn't make him any less of a player.
He never had a Gotze or Reus to play a one-two with. He was unlucky to have been born in an era when the national team did not have many stars to boast of, but Germany were lucky to have him, to single handedly help them win and maintain their stature as one of International Football's powerhouse. All in all, a great footballing talent has called it a day on a brilliant career.
Though thought by many to be arrogant, all I’d want to say is: Thank you MB13 for the wonderful memories.
Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, tackles disappointments in his stride, whatever the match wherever the game, don’t forget, MICHAEL BALLACK is the name!
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