Oliver Kahn: Tribute to a Soccer Legend

ThomasSenior Writer ISeptember 2, 2008

When I think of the great goalkeepers, I think of Peter Schmeichel, Petr Cech, Peter Shilton, and my favorite, Oliver Kahn

Yesterday, Oliver Kahn played his last soccer match in his illustrious 20-year career.  He and his club Bayern Munich played against a German select XI.  His testimonial match ended with a 1-1 draw.  After 75 minutes and having made several top-drawer saves Kahn gave way to Michael Rensing in the Bayern goal before embarking on a lap of honor to cheers from the 50,000 fans at the Allianz-Arena. 

After his testimonial, Kahn said, "Tonight was very moving for me, perhaps the most moving moment of my career.  I was under pressure my whole career whereas now I just had the joy of being out there in this stadium and before these fans one last time.  It's the end of an extraordinary part of my life but also the start of something new." 

Oliver Kahn made 557 appearances throughout his career, most of them with Bayern Munich.  Kahn, who is now 39-years-old, started his career with Karlsruher SC in the 1987-1988 season.  He established himself as a quality goalkeeper over the seven years he spent with the club.  His most memorable time with the club was when he helped them get to the semi-finals of the UEFA CUP.

In 1994, Kahn was transferred to German giants, Bayern Munich.  It was here where Kahn had the most success.  He won many awards both domestically and internationally during his time at the club.  In 1999, Bayern made it to the UEFA Champions League final where they lost to Manchester United.  However, in 2001, Bayern made it back to the final and Kahn was the Man of the Match, as Bayern defeated Valencia, 5-4 on penalties.

In the 2002-2003 season, it looked as if Kahn's career was down the tube; however, the next season saw Kahn come back as good as ever and has re-established himself as a top goalkeeper. 

The 2007-2008 season was the last season for King Kahn.  During that season, Kahn became the Bundesliga's all-time clean sheet leader with 190; and on September 2, 2007, Kahn became the league's all-time leader in matches played among goalkeepers with 535.  Kahn played his last international appearance for Bayern on May 1, 2008, as Bayern lost against Zenit St. Petersburg in the UEFA Cup semi-final, 4-0.  He played his last league match on May 7th, as he captained his team to a 4-1 victory over Hertha Berlin.

King Kahn won throughout his club career:
- The Bundesliga: eight times (1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008)
- The German Cup: six times (1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008)
- The Liga Pokal: six times (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2007)
- The UEFA Cup: one time (1996)
- The UEFA Champions League: one time (2001)

Oliver Kahn didn't enjoy just club success.  He also enjoyed international success with Germany.  Kahn made his international debut in 1995 in a match against Switzerland; however, Kahn had to wait until 2000 to become the starter for the German national team. 

He didn't fail to disappoint.  He helped Germany become runners-up in the 2002 World Cup and became the first goalkeeper in history to win the Golden Ball for his performance.  However, after a disappointing Euro 2004, Kahn had to fight for his place on the team against rival Jens Lehmann.  Kahn had to play backup to Lehmann during the 2006 World Cup, but managed to get the start in the third-place playoff in the Olympics against Portugal.  Germany ended up winning the match, 3-1, and took bronze. 

After everything that Oliver Kahn has accomplished, what will he do next?  For now, he will be a TV consultant for a World Cup qualifying match against Finland on September 10th.  Now, all us fans can do is remember the great times and achievements that Oliver Kahn has given us.  Thanks Oliver Kahn and good luck with your future.