Michael Ballack life and biography

Michael Ballack picture, image, poster

Michael Ballack biography

Date of birth : 1976-09-26
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Görlitz, East Germany
Nationality : German
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2010-05-05
Credited as : Footballer Chelsea, German National football team, World Cup

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Michael Ballack (born 26 September 1976) is a German professional footballer, who is currently playing his club football for Chelsea and is the captain of the German national football team. He is among the top goal scorers in the history of his international team. Ballack has worn the number 13 shirt for every team he has played for except for Kaiserslautern. He was selected by Pelé as one of FIFA's 100 Greatest Living Players, and as the UEFA Club Midfielder of the Year in 2002. He has won the German Footballer of the Year award three times - in 2002, 2003 and 2005.

Club career

Chemnitz
Ballack's parents sent him to train with the side when he was seven years old. He later moved on to FC Karl-Marx-Stadt (renamed Chemnitzer in 1990). His father had played second-division football himself in Germany. Unusual for his early age was Ballack's ability to use both feet with equal authority.

In 1995, Ballack earned his first professional contract, thanks to his performances in the role of central midfielder. He was dubbed the "Little Kaiser," in reference to Franz Beckenbauer, who was nicknamed "The Kaiser". His professional debut came on 4 August 1995, on the first day of the new 2. Bundesliga season. Chemnitz lost the game 2-1, against VfB Leipzig.

At the end of the season, during which Ballack made fifteen appearances, Chemnitz were relegated to the multi-tiered, regional third division. On 26 March 1996, Ballack made his debut for Germany's Under-21 side.

The following season, Ballack became a regular first-team player as Chemnitz missed out on an immediate return to the Bundesliga. He did not miss a game and scored ten goals for the "Sky Blues". It was not enough for Chemnitz to be promoted, but in the summer of 1997, coach Otto Rehhagel of just-promoted Kaiserslautern signed Ballack at their return to top flight football.

Kaiserslautern
It was during the seventh game of the 1997–98 season, away to Karlsruhe, that Rehhagel decided to throw Ballack into the Bundesliga for the first time, if only for the final five minutes of the encounter. On 28 March 1998, Ballack made his first-team debut against Bayer Leverkusen.

Ballack made 16 appearances for his new team during the season as the club became the first-ever newly promoted team to lift the league title. In the following season, Ballack became both a regular (he made 30 appearances, scoring four goals) and one of the side's leading players. Kaiserslautern reached the quarter finals of the Champions League, but were knocked out by Bayern Munich.

On 1 July 1999, Ballack moved to Bayer Leverkusen at the age of 22, for a transfer fee of €4.1 million.

Bayer Leverkusen
It was at Bayer Leverkusen that Ballack made his breakthrough. Coaches Christoph Daum and Klaus Toppmöller granted him an attacking role in the midfield. Ballack was instrumental to the success of Leverkusen, scoring 27 goals in the league and nine in Europe over the course of his three seasons at the BayArena.

In 2000, Bayer Leverkusen needed only a draw against minnows Unterhaching to win the title, but an own goal by Ballack helped send the team to a crushing 0-2 defeat, while Bayern Munich clinched the title with a 3-1 victory over Werder Bremen. 2002 was a season of disappointment for Bayer Leverkusen. In the German Bundesliga, the team surrendered a five point lead at the top of the table over the last three games of the season to finish second behind Borussia Dortmund, lost the UEFA Champions League final 2-1 to Real Madrid, and lost the German Cup final 4-2 to Schalke 04. These three runner-up finishes were dubbed a "Treble Horror".

Ballack and Leverkusen teammates Bernd Schneider, Carsten Ramelow, and Oliver Neuville were even beaten finalists with Germany in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, although Ballack was suspended for the final itself. Ballack finished with 17 league goals, and his performance over the season led to him being voted into the UEFA.com users' Team of 2002 as well being named German Footballer of the Year.

Bayern Munich
In spite of Real Madrid's interest, Ballack decided to sign with Bayern Munich in a €12.9 million deal in 2002 after his impressive performances in the World Cup. Bayern won the Bundesliga in his first season with 75 points, they also won the German Cup. In his second season however, Bayern lost their Bundesliga crown to Werder Bremen along with the cup.

In his third season with the Bavarians, Ballack enjoyed success in the 2004–05 season as Bayern Munich completed another double. New coach Felix Magath stated he was the only automatic starter in their midfield. In four seasons at Bayern, Ballack won three Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal doubles and scored 47 goals in 135 matches. Between 1998 and 2005, Ballack notched up 61 goals in his domestic league.

However, Ballack's critics noted his frequent "choking" in important Champions League matches. This resulted in open public criticism from club general manager Uli Hoeneß, communications director Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and club president Franz Beckenbauer, all former Bayern players. Beckenbauer later went as far as to accuse Ballack of "saving his strength" for prospective employers after Ballack turned in an average performance in the 2006 DFB Cup final against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Chelsea

Ballack agreed to join Chelsea on a free transfer on 15 May 2006. During his last season as a Bayern player there were rumours of interest from Manchester United, Real Madrid, Internazionale and A.C. Milan, but Ballack instead chose to go to Stamford Bridge. Shortly after arriving at Chelsea, Ballack stated that he hoped to end his career at Chelsea.

Ballack's debut for Chelsea came on 31 July 2006, during a practice match at UCLA's intramural football pitch. Chelsea presented him to the media the following day where the club also gave him his favoured number 13 shirt, worn throughout his career. Upon doing so, William Gallas, who previously wore the number 13 shirt for Chelsea, was given the number 3 shirt. This move created animosity between Gallas and the club as Gallas felt that he was underappreciated. On 27 August 2006, Ballack earned his English League debut for Chelsea against Blackburn Rovers, and made his UEFA Champions League debut for Chelsea against Werder Bremen on 12 September 2006.

Ballack scored his first goal for Chelsea in the latter match against Werder Bremen. He received his first straight red card of his career in Chelsea's 1-0 win over Liverpool on 17 September 2006, after being judged to have stamped on Mohamed Sissoko's leg. Ballack scored his first goal in the English League on 21 October 2006 against Portsmouth at home with a header. His first FA Cup goal came in the 109th minute in a match against Blackburn Rovers on 15 April 2007. This goal resulted in Chelsea progressing into the FA Cup final. He scored eight goals in all competitions for the club in the 2006–07 season, including a free-kick against Everton at Goodison Park, as well as a half-volley against F.C. Porto which sent Chelsea through to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League. Throughout his first season at Chelsea, Ballack was criticised for his lethargic performances - for playing as though he had "a huge cigar in his mouth".

On 28 April 2007, Chelsea released a statement on their official website, informing fans that Ballack had undergone ankle surgery in Munich. As a result of the surgery, Ballack did not play in the FA Cup Final against Manchester United, which Chelsea won 1–0 through Didier Drogba's extra time goal. This was Ballack's second trophy this season, his first being the League Cup, the final of which he started.

Despite persistent rumours in the summer 2007 transfer window, Ballack denied that he wanted to leave and no such move materialised. Chelsea left Ballack out of their Champions League squad for the 2007–08 group stage as they realised that his injury would prevent him from playing any useful part and preferred to select the fully fit Steve Sidwell. The German international had an ankle operation in the summer and Chelsea could not take the risk of him not regaining full fitness before the end of the Group Stage. Thus, Ballack could not play in the Champions League before the knockout stages began in February. The club was only able to select 23 out of a possible 25 players for their Champions League squad due to the new UEFA regulations on 'association-trained players' and 'club-trained players'. Due to this regulation, Chelsea were also unable to select young player Scott Sinclair and could only pick 23 players as their only 'club-trained player' was John Terry. For this reason, it was deemed unwise to gamble on Ballack being fit at some point.

Ballack was absent for eight months with an ankle injury, during which he feared that his football career might be in danger of ending as he was getting older. He made his return to the side in Chelsea's 2–0 League Cup win over Liverpool on 19 December 2007. Ballack tallied an assist late in the game to striker Andriy Shevchenko. On 26 December 2007, Ballack made his league return in a thrilling game against Aston Villa which ended 4–4. He came on for Frank Lampard in the 26th minute after the latter had picked up a thigh injury. In first-half stoppage time, he won a penalty after being brought down in the box by Zat Knight, which Andriy Shevchenko converted. In the 88th minute, with the score tied at 3–3, Ballack stepped up to take a free-kick, which he buried into the bottom left corner of the goal, but the match ended in a 4–4 draw.
Ballack playing against Tottenham Hotpsur.

Ballack captained the Chelsea team in the absence of captain John Terry and vice captain Frank Lampard in a 2–1 win over Newcastle United on 29 December 2007. Ballack then played his 50th game in a Chelsea shirt in a 2–1 win against Fulham in which he scored the winning goal for Chelsea. He also scored the only goal that won the match for Chelsea against Reading to extend the blues' winning streak to a record of nine. And, on 5 March 2007, he scored again, this time against Olympiacos in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 in a 3-0 win. He scored the winning goal in the 2-0 win in the 2nd leg of the Quarter-Finals against Fenerbahçe, a victory that secured Chelsea a place in the Semi-Finals.

Ballack continued to score vital goals and, on 26 April 2008, he scored a header and a penalty to give Chelsea a 2-1 win over Manchester United. He was named Man of The Match for his performance. It brought the two teams level in the race for the Premier League title only two matchdays before the end of the season.
Chelsea players after a match in 2009. Players from left to right (Ballack, Alex, Essien, and Ashley Cole.)

The season ended on a low note for Ballack as Chelsea finished runners up in the League Cup, Premier League and UEFA Champions League. This completed another treble horror for Ballack and his club. On 29 June 2008, Germany, captained by Ballack, lost to Spain 1-0 in the final of the UEFA Euro 2008 championship. This became the second season in Ballack's career that he was runner-up for four major trophies.

The 2008–09 season started well for Ballack, he set up Joe Cole to score the first goal in a 4-0 win over Portsmouth in the first game of the season. Ballack was injured shortly after missing the games against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. Ballack's return from injury has been a lift for Chelsea as he set up Deco to score a scissor kick in a 2-0 win against Bolton Wanderers. Ballack's first goal of the '09 season came against Southend United in their FA Cup replay, a match which Chelsea went on to win 4-1. Ballack's first Premier League goal of the '09 Season came on 11 April 2009 in a match against Bolton Wanderers, ending 4-3 for Chelsea. He came on as a second half substitute as Chelsea won the 2009 FA Cup Final.

On 2 June, Ballack signed a one-year contract extension with Chelsea.

In Chelsea's second game of the season, away at Sunderland, Ballack scored his first goal of the 2009–10 campaign in their 3–1 win. Ballack also scored against Burnley in a 3-0 win. Ballack made his Champions league appearance against Portuguese side Porto. On 20 September 2009, he scored his third league goal, against Tottenham Hotspur. On 17 January 2010, he scored his fourth league goal and third assist in a 7-2 win against Sunderland. In Chelsea's fifth round FA Cup tie against Cardiff City, Ballack scored the goal which put the Blues back in front and they comfortably saw the Bluebirds home 4-1 in the end.

International career

Ballack converting a penalty for Germany at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup in a match against Australia

On 26 March 1996, Ballack debuted for the national U21 team against Denmark, shortly after signing for Chemnitz. In all, he played 19 matches for this side, scoring four goals. Then, following his move to Kaiserslautern, national coach Berti Vogts called him up to the senior team.

Ballack's first appearance, however, did not come until 28 April 1999, when he came on as a substitute for Dietmar Hamann in a match against Scotland.

Ballack only played 63 minutes at the UEFA Euro 2000 championship. In the 2002 FIFA World Cup, he scored in matches against the United States and South Korea during the knock-out rounds as Germany reached the final. However, he was booked for a tactical foul during the semi-final match against South Korea and was suspended for the final which Germany went on to lose 2-0 to Brazil. He was included in the World Cup All Star Team.

Following the UEFA Euro 2004 championship, Jürgen Klinsmann replaced Rudi Völler at the helm of the national team and Ballack took over Oliver Kahn as captain.

In the 2006 FIFA World Cup, he was unable to start in Germany's first game against Costa Rica due to a calf strain, but appeared in the following five matches. Germany were eliminated in the semi-finals, but they managed to clinch 3rd place in a match against Portugal. He was named Man of the Match in the games against Ecuador and Argentina, and was included in FIFA's World Cup All Star Team for a second consecutive time.

On 6 February 2008, Ballack played his first match since returning from injury in a 3-0 friendly win over Austria.

Ballack started and captained Germany's first game of the UEFA Euro 2008 championship against Poland. He proved to be an influential figure in the midfield as Germany came back from a shock defeat to Croatia to make it to the final, scoring a free kick against Austria to secure Germany a 1-0 win and a place in the quarter-finals. In the quarter-finals, he scored a controversial header against Portugal to make the score 3-1 in their 3-2 win after an assist by Bastian Schweinsteiger's 60th minute free kick, helping Germany to advance to the semi-finals. Germany went on to beat Turkey 3-2 in the semifinals. Prior to the final, Ballack sustained a calf injury but eventually overcame it in time. However, Germany ended up losing 1-0 to Spain. Nevertheless, he was named in the Team of the Tournament.

Ballack can boast that, dating back to June 2005, Germany has never lost a game when he has scored. He has scored 4 goals for the 2010 World Cup qualifiers.

Personal life

Ballack married his long-term girlfriend, Simone Lambe, on 14 July 2008. The couple have four children together - Louis (born 2001), Emilio (born 2002) Jordi (born 2005) and Marti (born 2010).

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