WORLD CUP : Dream over for ageing Ballack

Berlin, July 9 :

Germany captain Michael Ballack admits his dream of lifting the World Cup is all but over as he will be almost 34 when the 2010 World Cup in South Africa comes along.

Ballack, capped 70 times by his country, missed the 2002 World Cup final through suspension and wanted to cure that heartache by lifting the trophy in Berlin in Sunday’s final. He led the hosts to the World Cup semi-finals but lost 2-0 to Italy in extra-time and must now come to terms with the fact that he is unlikely to ever win football’s ultimate prize.

“I am 29 now and a World Cup only comes along every four years. I will be almost 34 and at that age there is no guarantee that I will be there,” Ballack said in an interview with Welt am Sonntag. “I realised this could be my last chance to be a world champion.”

Despite the disappointment of missing out on World Cup glory, Ballack can look forward to a new challenge after agreeing to join English champions Chelsea. “It is good that I have a new challenge after the World Cup,” Ballack said. “After this highlight I do not have the routine at Bayern Munich but a new motivation with Chelsea. I want to win the Champions League at Chelsea.”