A complete star

Bayern Munich star, Michael Ballack, is one of the most complete midfield players in the world thanks to his superb ability to run with the ball. He has an impressive goalscoring record and that has been vitally important to the German side in the past few years — he netted the winning goal in the both the quarter-final and semi-final at the 2002 World Cup and was joint top scorer for his country in Euro 2004 qualifying.

However, the 27-year-old missed the World Cup final due to suspension. In January 2002, Ballack was voted the best player of the first half of the Bundesliga season and three months later, he had led Bayer Levekusen to the finals of the UEFA Champions League, the German Cup final, and second position in the league.

He is also being tipped as a likely FIFA World CupTM star, with German legend Franz Beckenbauer, to whom Ballack is increasingly being compared, recently calling him the best young midfielder in Europe.

Technically outstanding, Ballack prefers the defensive midfield position, but with his long, jinking runs and visionary passing, he can turn defence into attack in a second. His goal rate is high, and his perfect timing makes him a good tackler. Born in 1976, Ballack grew up in East Germany, working his way through the youth sides of local team FC Chemnitzer.

A stint for the German U-21 side helped raise his stature, and Kaiserslauten signed him up in 1997. It proved a golden first season for Ballack, who played 16 games as Kaiserslauten claimed the title.

He was a regular in the 1998-99 campaign and caught the attention of then-Germany coach Erick Ribbeck, who gave Ballack his first full cap for Germany in April 1999.

Birth Date: September 26, 1976

Height: 189 cm

Weight: 80 kg

Position: MF

Int’l Goals: 6 (as of 27 May 2002)

Int’l Caps: 22 (as of 27 May 2002)

First Int’l Cap: Scotland (28 April 1999)