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9.18.2005

Michael Ballack Bio

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Michael Ballack is a very smart midfielder too important for every coach he's ever had. Excellent touch on the ball. Criticized for being 'lazy' on the pitch, Michael proved that his seemingly slow gait in midfield was merely a case of the lion waiting to pounce. Owner of powerful shots from outside the area. Instrumental to both club and country, manager Rudi Völler will be counting on the attacking midfielder to set the tone for his side at FIFA World Cup in 2006.

Born in East Germany, Micheal Ballack broke into the Bundesliga at age 20 with Kaiserslautern. Clashes with then coach Otto Rehhagel prompted a 1999 transfer to Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Ballack flourished under successive Leverkusen coaches Christoph Daum and Klaus Toppmoeller. The 2001/2002 season saw Ballack at his best as he took his side to the Champions League finals before losing out to Real Madrid. With Leverkusen finishing second in the Bundesliga, Ballack's 17 club goals earned him the German Player of the Year title. His first season with FC Bayern München was a success as the squad took the league title and Ballack once again won German Player of the Year.

At 27 Ballack is already a veteran on the international stage. Finishing second behind England in the 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifications, Ballack's three goals over two legs against the Ukraine were the saving grace for Germany. Ballack continued his quality play in Japan / South Korea, scoring three goals including the crucial semi-final strike against South Korea. His leadership and four goals carried Germany through the 2004 Eurocup qualifications, with his side finishing first in their group.