Germany’s Ballack ends great career
BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
Despite being the most successful German player of his generation, Michael Ballack will be remembered with several finals he had lost in heartbreaking fashion. EPA photoFormer Germany captain Michael Ballack announced his retirement on Oct. 2, bringing the curtain down on a stellar career.
Having turned 36 at the end of last month, Ballack has been without a team after his two-year deal at Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen expired in June.
Since leaving Leverkusen, Ballack had been reported to be negotiating with clubs in north America’s MLS and Australia’s A-League, but has decided to hang up his boots.
“At 36 years of age, I can look back on a long and wonderful time in professional football, which I could never have dreamed of as a child,” he said in a statement. “It was a privilege to have worked with world-class coaches and fantastic players. Of course, I will miss playing playing or scoring a goal in front of 80,000 fans, but the last few months without football have shown me that it is time to stop.”
Ballack made the last of his 98 appearances for Germany when he captained them during their friendly defeat against Argentina in March 2010 having made his national debut back in April 1999 against Scotland.
Having played for Kaiserslautern, Leverkusen and Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, Ballack spent four years at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea between 2006 and 2010.
However, the midfielder will always be known as the player who was destined to finish second.
In 2002, he was part of the Leverkusen team which came second on three occasions - losing in the German Cup and Champions League finals while finishing second in the Bundesliga.
He was then suspended for the 2002 World Cup final, which Germany lost to Brazil in Japan, after picking up a yellow card and scoring the winning goal in the semifinal victory over South Korea.
Ballack was again left as a runner-up in 2008 when he wept openly after losing the Champions League final in Moscow on penalties, then led Germany when they lost the Euro 2008 final to Spain.