Football-lovers, do you still remember Michael Ballack? Yes, Michael Ballack, a German national team legend. He was once nicknamed the Little Kaiser, referring to his greatness which was predicted to match and even surpass Der Kaiser’s Franz Beckenbauer.
Since before he was a teenager, “Little Emperor” Michael Ballack has been the center of attention due to his outstanding talent. But his career only began to climb high when he appeared in the German Bundesliga 2 in 1995. Although his club had to be relegated, he was called up to the German Under-21 national team.
Since then, besides being a German national team subscription, Ballack had also become a core player at the Kaiserslautern club, Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, to join the English Premier League club, Chelsea.
Ballack did it by becoming one of the world’s best midfielders until the early 2000s. His name had soared as his extraordinary performances in the midfield of Bayern Leverkusen brought him to the 2001/02 Champions League final. Unfortunately, they had to surrender from Madrid which made him cry that night.
In his generation, Michael Ballack could be considered as the most talented German player. He has the skills, techniques, and charisma that is extraordinary to lead his colleagues on the field. However, he had such bad memories as a player: he often loses in the final match.
Ballack underwent a football career for 17 seasons. This player born on September 26, 1976, with a title. But at a certain moment, he seemed to lose his magical power.
In the German national team, Bayern Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, and Chelsea, he often lost to the crucial party. Some happened in the final fight which then made the nickname “Mr. Runner-up” appear to be his.
Initially, the failure to win the 1999/00 Bundesliga season was only considered as bad luck for Ballack. In the last match, Leverkusen only needed a draw against SpVgg Unterhaching. Leverkusen lost 0-2 with one of his goals from Ballack’s suicide.
At the same time, FC Bayern overthrew Werder Bremen 3-1. FC Bayern and Leverkusen won 74 points at the end of the competition. But FC Bayern won by creating goal difference 45 to 38.
Apparently, the failure to win the Bundesliga became the beginning of his career which was decorated with disappointment at the top match after losing the European Champions League final to Real Madrid.
In the same year, Ballack again swallowed disappointment at an important party. This time it happened at the DFB Pokal, he failed to lead Leverkusen to win the title after his team defeated 2-4 from Schalke 04 in the final match.
In the Bundesliga event, Ballack also got the runner up title again. In the 2001/02 Bundesliga season, the last three matches led to defeat making Leverkusen go down to the second place and won first place at Borussia Dortmund.
About two months after the failure with Leverkusen in domestic competition. Ballack had again experienced a curse in the final. This time with the German national team. In the 2002 world cup, the Panzer team surrendered from Brazil through the brilliant performance of Ronaldo il fenomeno. Even though he didn’t play in the final, he still became part of the losing team.
The curse on Ballack seemed to be getting worse because he often used the back number 13. The number 13 is generally known as an unlucky number. Ballack certainly did not believe such a thing and he still used his jersey number 13. After all, Alessandro Nesta who is also synonymous with jersey number 13 still achieved success by winning the World Cup in 2006.
After experiencing a series of failures with Bayer Leverkusen, Ballack moved to Bayern Munich after the 2002 World Cup event. In the Bavarian, he wanted to remove the curse.
With FC Bayern, Ballack won the domestic competition double winners three times in four seasons. Even so, with FC Bayern, Ballack had also felt the runner-up position, such in the Bundesliga 2003/04.
In 2006, Ballack joined Chelsea, looking for new challenges with the club based at Stamford Bridge. Ballack seemed to just continue the waves of his misery.
Together with the Blues, Ballack made it to the top of the European Champions League 2007/08 season, but again, the curse seemed to not leave him alone. Chelsea lost to Manchester United through penalties.
The sorrow was still not over for Ballack. Shortly after the failure in the Champions League, Ballack managed to bring Germany advanced to the final round of the European Cup 2008. Germany faced Spain at the time. However, Spain succeeded in making history.
The Matador team successfully lifted the trophy through Fernando Torres’ sole goal. That night, Ballack did not cry. He only looked up at the sky while occasionally smiling cynically.
Even in the same year, Chelsea were only two points adrift of Manchester United who managed to win the Premier League. Not only in the primary league, but Ballack also failed to bring the blues to win the league trophy. 2008 was a bad year for Ballack, because he won four Runner Up medals, three with Chelsea and one with the German national team.
There was also no coincidence that the German national team won the World Cup title in 2014, four years after Ballack retired. Ballack even seemed forced to retire at that time. Germany coach, Joachim Loew, did not take him to the 2010 World Cup because of an injury.
After that, Loew offered two-match tests for Ballack so that he could fulfill his 100th caps in the German national team before he retired. Ballack, who at that time returned to Bayer Leverkusen, refused and responded by retiring from the national team because he felt he was no longer valued by Loew.
Ballack’s retirement became a great opportunity for other talented German midfielders such as Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mesut Ozil, and Thomas Mueller.
Together with these talented players, Germany managed to become the world’s strongest team by winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Even so, throughout his career, Ballack won several trophies such as 3 Bundesliga titles and a Premier League title, two of the most prestigious trophies he has ever won.
Never bringing the German national team champion does not mean to be a deep slump for Ballack. With all his dedication and struggle, he remains to be a part of German legends. He has won the hearts of German supporters.
And maybe, that’s the sweetest victory he ever achieved in his career.