Michael Ballack – the German midfield commander

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Michael Ballack is a legend of German football and one of the best midfield players of his generation.

Michael Ballack was born on 26 September 1976 in Gorlitz, Germany and developed his love for football at the youth academy of Chemnitzer FC.

At the age of 18, Ballack signed the first professional contract with Chemnitz and made his professional debut in August 1995 in 2. Bundesliga against VfB Leipzig.

He made 15 appearances in his debut season and scored 10 goals in the next season. The performance resulted in him being signed by 1.FC Kaiserslautern in 1997.

Ballack made 16 appearances for the team in his first season as Kaiserslautern lifted the Bundesliga title defeating Bayern Munich and scripted history. He spent another year with The Red Devils and signed for Bayer Leverkusen in 1999.

His best season on an individual level was 2001/02, as he scored 17 goals in the German league, but the campaign finished in disappointing fashion for Ballack and Bayer Leverkusen.

They surrendered a five-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga over the last three games of the season to finish second behind Borussia Dortmund.

Leverkusen also lost the UEFA Champions League final 2–1 to Real Madrid and lost the DFB-Pokal final 4–2 to Schalke 04.

And on top of that, the national team of Germany lost the 2002 FIFA World Cup final 2-0 to Brazil, as Ballack missed the game due to suspension. Not a year he would like to remember, right?

MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 12: Mario Goetze (R) of Muenchen and Juergen Klopp, head coach of Dortmund shake hands prior to the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Borussia Dortmund at Allianz Arena on April 12, 2014 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Lennart Preiss/Bongarts/Getty Images)

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The failure to win a title with Leverkusen resulted in Ballack moving to Bayern Munich in the summer of 2002. Ballack spent four seasons with the Bavarians, winning three domestic doubles: in 2003, 2005 and 2006.

He established himself as the leader of Bayern Munich and became one of the best midfielders in the World. He was effective in attack, scoring 62 goals in 157 appearances for the club, but was also excellent in defense with his amazing ability to read the game.

In 2006 Roman Abramovic and Chelsea came with a tempting offer, and Michael Ballack signed for the London Blues as a free agent.

He lost another Champions League final in 2008 to Manchester United and was part of the German side who reached the UEFA Euro final later that year but was defeated from Spain.

Ballack won the Premier League in 2010 and moved back to Bayer Leverkusen, before his retirement two years later.

He played a total of 267 games in the Bundesliga, notched 77 goals and 48 assists and won the league four times in his career. He went down as one of the greatest ever players in German football.

Michael Ballack was unstoppable and operated like a commander. The ‘Little Kaiser’ will always be remembered as one of the most legendary football players in the Bundesliga.

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