Oliver Rolf Kahn is a former German football goalkeeper. He started his career in the Karlsruher SC Junior team in 1975. Twelve years later, Kahn made his debut match in the professional squad. In 1994, he was transferred to Bayern Munich for the fee of DM4.6 million, where he played until the end of his career in 2008. His commanding presence in goal and aggressive style earned him nicknames such as Der Titan (English: the Titan) from the press and Vol-kahn-o (“volcano”) from fans. Kahn is one of the most successful German players in recent history, having won eight Bundesliga titles, six DFB-Pokals, the UEFA Cup in 1996, the UEFA Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup, both achieved in 2001. Regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, his individual contributions have earned him a record four consecutive UEFA Best European Goalkeeper awards, as well as three IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper awards, and two German Footballer of the Year trophies. At the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Kahn became the only goalkeeper in the tournament’s history to win the Golden Ball. Kahn placed fifth in both the IFFHS Best Goalkeeper of the 21st Century and Best Goalkeeper of the Past 25 Years elections. From 1994 to 2006, Kahn was part of the German national team, in which he played as a starter after the retirement of Andreas Köpke; he was an unused member of the squad that won the 1996 UEFA European Championship. In the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the team reached the final. While Germany was several times derided for their poor performance, Kahn’s prowess proved to be the deciding factor in several games until the final, where Germany lost 0–2 to Brazil and Kahn made a mistake on Brazil’s first goal. Nevertheless, he was named the tournament’s best player and received the Golden Ball award.
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FC Bayern Munich failed to defend either the league or Champions League titles won in the previous season, finishing third in Bundesliga and losing out to eventual champions Real Madrid in the quarter final. Its reaction to the losses was signing Michael Ballack and Zé Roberto from Champions League finalists Bayer Leverkusen, as well as Sebastian Deisler form Hertha Berlin, with the midfield being singled out as the key area in which the side needed to improve upon. Bayern won the Intercontinental Cup in Tokyo (Japan) on November 26th defeating Boca Juniors 1-0. The team was instead defeated by Liverpool 3-2 in the Uefa Super Cup Final which took place in Montecarlo on Aug.24th.
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Kahn’s performance for Karlsruher SC prompted Bayern Munich to express interest in acquiring him. The team signed him as a replacement for Raimond Aumann at the beginning of the 1994–95 season, for the at that time record fee of DM4.6 million (€2.385 million) for his position, and was established as Bayern’s starting goalkeeper. Although suffering a rupture of his cruciate ligament, which kept him off the field for almost six months, Kahn made his debut match for the German national team two months after his return. Bayern defeated Bordeaux 3–1 in the 1996 UEFA Cup Final. In the 1996–97 Bundesliga season, Kahn achieved his first German championship with Bayern Munich, the German League Cup, and was named German Goalkeeper of the Year for the second time in his career (the first in 1994). In 1999, Bayern Munich reached the 1999 Champions League Final, facing Manchester United at Camp Nou. Although Bayern Munich player Mario Basler scored an early goal in the sixth minute of the game, two goals by Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær in injury time led to United’s victory. The same year, he was named World Goalkeeper of the Year by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics. Kahn was sent off in an incident against Hansa Rostock on 3 March 2001. With his Bayern Munich team losing 2–3 in the final minutes, he sneaked into the area during a corner kick, jumped up, and punched the ball into the opponent’s net. He immediately received a red card, which dismissed him from the game. He was named man of the match when he was part of the squad which played the 2001 Champions League title against Valencia. He played an important role in the penalty shoot-out held after the teams remained tied 1–1 after extra time, making three saves. He also received the UEFA Fair Play Award for this match, after he walked up to a disappointed Santiago Cañizares, the opposition goalkeeper, after the penalty shoot-out and attempted to comfort him. The same year, Bayern Munich won the International Cup at Tokyo’s National Stadium against the Argentine team Boca Juniors. But the team failed to win the UEFA Super Cup a couple of months earlier. By Kahn’s account, injuries, personal problems and a lack of motivation were responsible for his game going into a rapid decline during the 2002–03 season. This culminated with Kahn allowing a seemingly soft shot by Roberto Carlos into the net against Real Madrid in the first knockout-round of the 2003–04 Champions League season, contributing to the elimination of his team from the competition. The Daily Mail criticized him for his mistake: “Once again on the big occasion Kahn was undone by a Brazilian, just as he was in the 2002 World Cup Final. Only this time it was a Roberto Carlos free-kick which he let slip, not a Rivaldo shot, for a goal as embarrassing as it is potentially catastrophic for Bayern”. Bayern Munich won the next Bundesliga season with Kahn. Prior to a 2006 match against Arminia Bielefeld in Munich, Michael Rensing peppered Kahn with practice shots. One shot hit Kahn squarely in the eye, causing enough swelling and discoloration to keep him from playing. With Rensing in goal, Bayern Munich won the match 2–0.
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The FIFA Technical Study Group awarded Jahn for the Fifa World Cup 2002 with the Lev Yashin Award for the best goalkeeper of the tournament, and became the first goalkeeper in history to win the Golden Ball for the best individual performance. He also became the first German goalkeeper to keep five clean sheets in a World Cup tournament. Kahn maintained his number one spot for the 2004 UEFA European Football Championship, but Germany were once again eliminated in the group stage. Oliver Kahn gave up his captaincy to Michael Ballack after the tournament.
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Kahn was initially called for the German national team as a late back-up for the 1994 FIFA World Cup; however he made his first international appearance on 23 June 1995 in a 2–1 victory against Switzerland, two months after recovering from his cruciate ligament injury. Along with Oliver Reck, Kahn was a reserve keeper of the squad, which won the 1996 UEFA European Football Championship in England. He spent the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France on the bench, and it was not until Andreas Köpke announced his retirement at the end of the tournament that Kahn became the starting goalkeeper. Two years after the 2000 UEFA European Football Championship, in which defending champions Germany made an embarrassing exit in the group stage, Kahn received the squad’s captaincy, succeeding the strikerOliver Bierhoff. Kahn experienced one of his worst performances in his international career against England in Munich in 2001. Germany were favored to win as they had beaten England 1–0 in 2000 at the Wembley Stadium. However, they were routed 5–1, including a hat-trick by Michael Owen. Despite the defeat, Germany qualified for the World Cup after winning a playoff against Ukraine, and Kahn remained as Germany’s number one for the upcoming Cup. Kahn was named the best goalkeeper in the world by IFFHS for the second time in his career. Despite Germany’s comparatively low expectations when for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the team advanced to the finals; Kahn conceded only three goals in the course of the competition, two of which were in the Final. Playing the final match with torn ligaments in his right ring finger, Kahn conceded the first goal by fumbling a rebounded shot from Rivaldo to the feet of striker Ronaldo in the 67th minute. Once the game was over with Brazil as the new champion, he stood alone and disappointed in his goal; nevertheless he refused to blame his injury for his mistake. Germany’s new manager Jürgen Klinsmann, who replaced Rudi Völler, adopted the strategy of rotating the number one spot between Kahn and his longtime competitor, Jens Lehmann of Arsenal, to stimulate competition between the two. On 7 April 2006, after two years of dispute for the position Klinsmann announced Lehmann was his first-choice goalkeeper for the 2006 World Cup. Kahn decided to stay on as a backup for the competition; despite their acrimonious pre-tournament battle for Germany’s starting role, Kahn openly accepted Klinsmann’s decision. Kahn and Lehmann embraced and shook hands as the former offered words of encouragement before the quarter-final penalty shoot-out against Argentina. In the postgame conference, Kahn publicly praised Lehmann for his two decisive penalty saves. After Germany was eliminated in the semi-finals by Italy, Kahn was given the start for the third place play-off held on 8 July 2006, which Germany won 3–1 against Portugal. In what was his last international appearance for Germany, he also received the captaincy of the team in the absence of the injured Michael Ballack. Although overshadowed by Bastian Schweinsteiger’s game-winning performance in the match, Kahn played to a high standard, pulling off several saves. Kahn deflected a shot by Portuguese forward Pauleta after he beat the German defence, and later saved Deco’s shot made from just inside the penalty area. Following the match, Oliver Kahn announced his retirement from the German National Team. Throughout his international career he earned 86 caps for Germany, including 49 as team captain. He never won a World Cup, but finished as runner-up in 2002 and third in 2006.
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Regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all-time, in addition to his goalkeeping technique, distribution, and shot-stopping abilities, Kahn is widely admired for the stamina, mental strength, and composure he showed to overcome the stresses and pressures of his career. His profile on the Bayern Munich website lists his attributes as “impatient, disciplined, ambitious”. Due to his performances during the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea, Kahn gained popularity in Asia. He was depicted in several television commercials, including one for the Shinkin bank. In 2008, his wax figure in the Berlin branch of the Madame Tussaud museum was inaugurated. Kahn is the subject of the song Olli Kahn by the German pop group Die Prinzen. Known for his eccentricity and charismatic leadership from the back, due to the formidable presence, commanding influence, and aggressive playing style that he showed in goal during his professional career, Kahn’s epithet is “The Titan”; he was also frequently nicknamed “King Kahn” throughout his career.
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Regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all-time, in addition to his goalkeeping technique, distribution, and shot-stopping abilities, Kahn is widely admired for the stamina, mental strength, and composure he showed to overcome the stresses and pressures of his career. His profile on the Bayern Munich website lists his attributes as “impatient, disciplined, ambitious”. Known for his eccentricity and charismatic leadership from the back, due to the formidable presence, commanding influence, and aggressive playing style that he showed in goal during his professional career, Kahn’s epithet is “The Titan”; he was also frequently nicknamed “King Kahn” throughout his career. But for Oliver Kahn, football was never a game and, as he has said on numerous occasions, he never really enjoyed himself on a football pitch. In April of 1996, during a game at Stuttgart, Kahn came racing out of his goal, grabbed his Bayern team-mate Andreas Herzog by the shoulder and jolted him about because he had failed to track back. Or when three years later, in 1999, he grabbed Dortmund’s Andreas Möller by the ear, delivered a kung-fu styled kick aimed at Stephane Chapuisat and then pretended to bite Heiko Herrlich in the neck – all in one game. Love him or hate him, he was simply Oliver Kahn, one of the best goalkeepers ever.
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Due to his performances during the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea, Kahn gained popularity in Asia. He was depicted in several television commercials, including one for the Shinkin bank. In 2008, his wax figure in the Berlin branch of the Madame Tussaud museum was inaugurated. Kahn is the subject of the song Olli Kahn by the German pop group Die Prinzen. But the best advertising Kahn made was definitely the World Cup 2006 Adidas advertising.