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Oliver Kahn

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Title: Oliver Kahn  
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Subject: 2002 FIFA World Cup, Michael Ballack, Gianluigi Buffon, Jürgen Klinsmann, Germany national football team
Collection: 1969 Births, 1994 Fifa World Cup Players, 1998 Fifa World Cup Players, 2002 Fifa World Cup Players, 2005 Fifa Confederations Cup Players, 2006 Fifa World Cup Players, Association Football Goalkeepers, Bundesliga Players, Fc Bayern Munich Footballers, Fifa 100, German Footballers, German People of Latvian Descent, Germany International Footballers, Karlsruher Sc II Players, Karlsruher Sc Players, Living People, People from Karlsruhe, Sportspeople from Baden-Württemberg, Uefa Euro 1996 Players, Uefa Euro 2000 Players, Uefa Euro 2004 Players, Uefa European Championship-Winning Players
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Oliver Kahn

Oliver Kahn
Kahn training during Germany's Euro 2004 run in June 2004
Personal information
Full name Oliver Rolf Kahn[1]
Date of birth (1969-06-15) 15 June 1969
Place of birth Karlsruhe, West Germany
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)[2]
Playing position Goalkeeper
Youth career
1975–1987 Karlsruher SC
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1987–1990 Karlsruher SC II 73 (0)
1987–1994 Karlsruher SC 128 (0)
1994–2008 Bayern Munich 429 (0)
Total 630 (0)
National team
1995–2006 Germany 86 (0)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Oliver Rolf Kahn (German pronunciation: ; born 15 June 1969)[3] 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[4] and aggressive style earned him nicknames such as Der Titan (, English: the Titan) from the press and Vol-kahn-o ("volcano") from fans.[5]

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,[6][7] 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 first and 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.[8][9]

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 up until the final, where Germany lost 0–2 to Brazil and Kahn made a mistake on Brazil's first goal.[10] He was named the tournament's best player and received the Golden Ball award.


  • Club career 1
    • Karlsruher SC 1.1
    • Bayern Munich 1.2
  • International career 2
  • Television career 3
  • Personal life 4
    • Relationships 4.1
  • Reputation 5
  • Career statistics 6
    • Club 6.1
    • International 6.2
  • Honours 7
    • Club 7.1
    • International 7.2
    • Individual 7.3
  • Further reading 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Club career

Karlsruher SC

At the age of six, Kahn joined Karlsruher SC, where his father Rolf had played from 1962 to 1965.[4] He started as an outfield player before becoming goalkeeper.[11] Kahn was included in the team's professional squad in the 1987–88 season of the first Bundesliga division, at first being the reserve goalkeeper behind Alexander Famulla. On 27 November 1987, Kahn made his league debut in a 4–0 home victory against 1. FC Köln. However, not until 1990 did manager Winfried Schäfer decide to start him over Famulla.[12] In the following years, Kahn established himself as the team's starting goalkeeper. He was considered a key player and a motivator in the Karlsruher squad which reached the semi-finals in the 1993–94 UEFA Cup.[13] During the round of sixteen the team accomplished a 7–0 rout of Valencia at its home field after losing the first match 1–3 at the Mestalla Stadium.[14][15] The game was nicknamed the "Miracle at Wildparkstadion" by the German media.[16] The team was defeated by SV Austria Salzburg in the semi-final.[17][18]

Bayern Munich

Kahn's performance for Karlsruher SC prompted Bayern Munich to express interest in acquiring him.[19] 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,[12] 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.[20] Bayern defeated Bordeaux 3–1 in the 1996 UEFA Cup Final.[21] In the 1996–97 Bundesliga season, Kahn achieved his first German championship with Bayern Munich, the German League Cup,[22] and was named German Goalkeeper of the Year for the second time in his career (the first in 1994).[2]

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.[23] The same year, he was named World Goalkeeper of the Year by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics.[24]

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.[25] He was named man of the match when he was part of the squad which played the 2001 Champions League title against Valencia.[26] He played an important role in the penalty shoot-out held after the teams remained tied 1–1 after extra time, making three saves.[27][28] 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.[29] The same year, Bayern Munich won the International Cup at Tokyo's National Stadium against the Argentine team Boca Juniors.[28]

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.[30][31] 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.[32] 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".[33] 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.[34]

Kahn at his testimonial match in September 2008

Kahn announced his intention to honor his contract and play through the 2007–08 season.[35] As of 2011, he is the all time clean sheet leader in the history of the Bundesliga, with 197.[36] On 2 September 2007, aged 38, he played his 535th Bundesliga match, becoming the league's all time leader among goalkeepers in matches played.[37] Kahn made his final European appearance for Bayern in a 4–0 defeat to Zenit Saint Petersburg in the UEFA cup semi-final on 1 May 2008.[38] His last Bundesliga game was the 4–1 victory against Hertha Berlin on 17 May.[39]

After a twenty year-career, of which he played fourteen with Bayern, he had his professional farewell in a testimonial match versus the select Germany XI on 2 September 2008, which ended 1–1.[40] His last appearance for Bayern Munich was on 27 May 2008 at the Salt Lake Stadium (Yuvabharati Krirangan), Kolkata in a friendly against Mohun Bagan of India during Bayern's Asian tour of 2008. Around 120,000 people turned up for the match. The match ended 0–3 in favour of Bayern and Michael Rensing substituted him in the 55th minute.[41]

International career

Kahn was initially called for the German national team as a late back-up for the 1994 FIFA World Cup;[42] however he made his first international appearance on 23 June 1995 in a 2–1 victory against Switzerland,[43] two months after recovering from his cruciate ligament injury.[20] Along with Oliver Reck, Kahn was a reserve keeper of the squad, which won the 1996 UEFA European Football Championship in England.[44][45] 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.[46] Two years after the 2000 UEFA European Football Championship, in which defending champions Germany made an embarrassing exit in the group stage,[47] Kahn received the squad's captaincy, succeeding the striker Oliver Bierhoff.[48]

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.[49] However, they were routed 5–1, including a hat-trick by Michael Owen.[50] 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.[51][52] Kahn was named the best goalkeeper in the world by IFFHS for the second time in his career.[53]

Despite Germany's comparatively low expectations when for the 2002 FIFA World Cup,[54] the team advanced to the finals; Kahn conceded only three goals in the course of the competition, two of which were in the Final.[55] 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;[56] nevertheless he refused to blame his injury for his mistake.[57]

"There is no consolation [...] it was the only mistake I made in seven games and it was brutally punished".

—Oliver Kahn's statements after the final of the 2002 World Cup.[10]

The FIFA Technical Study Group awarded him 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.[58] He also became the first German goalkeeper to keep five clean sheets in a World Cup tournament.[59] Kahn maintained his number one spot for the 2004 UEFA European Football Championship,[60] but Germany were once again eliminated in the group stage. Oliver Kahn gave up his captaincy to Michael Ballack after the tournament.[61]

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.[62] 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.[63] 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.[64] In the postgame conference, Kahn publicly praised Lehmann for his two decisive penalty saves.[65]

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.[66] Although overshadowed by Bastian Schweinsteiger’s game-winning performance in the match, Kahn played to a high standard, pulling off several saves.[67] 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.[68] Following the match, Oliver Kahn announced his retirement from the German National Team.[66] Throughout his international career he earned 86 caps for Germany, including 49 as team captain.[69] He never won a World Cup, but finished as runner-up in 2002 and third in 2006.[26][70]

Television career

After the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship, he joined the ZDF sports team as an analyst for the German national team's games.[71] In 2009, he was part of the jury of a China Central Television reality show, which aimed to find China's best young goalkeeper.[72] As of 2011, he started negotiations with television channel Sat.1 to introduce the same format to German television under the name Never give up – The Kahn Principle, in which the winner would receive a contract to play for a Bundesliga club.[73]

Personal life

Kahn was born in Karlsruhe. He is partly of Latvian descent;[74] he had a Latvian grandmother and his father was born in Liepāja, where he remains well-known.[75] He has an older brother named Axel, who played in the second division for the Karlsruher.[76]

In 2009, he was offered the position of manager for the FC Schalke 04, which he turned down.[77] Two years thereafter, in April 2011, a German court fined Kahn 125,000 ($182,223) for tax evasion after failing to declare more than €6,000 of luxury clothing he bought on a trip to Dubai.[78]

He supports the Munich street-football league Bunt kickt gut,[79] which is considered a pioneer project of organized street-football and a Germany and Europa-wide model of intercultural understanding, education values and prevention;[80] the Sepp-Herberger foundation, which promotes football in schools, clubs, and prisons;[81] and the Justin Rockola Association, whose goal is the protection of young people against violence, alcohol and drugs.[82]

He received his coaching license in 2010.[73] After having studied business at the University of Hagen and Privatuniversität Schloss Seeburg Kahn holds a Master of Business Administration degree.


In 1999, Kahn married Simone, with whom he has two children: Katharina-Maria (born 28 December 1998) and David (born 7 March 2003).[83] The couple separated in 2003 and Kahn thereafter had a highly publicized relationship with Verena Kerth from 2003 to 2008. Kahn and Simone briefly reconciled in 2009, before divorcing the same year.

On 8 July 2011 Kahn married his girlfriend Svenja in Munich. The couple has a son, Julian (born 1 February 2011).[84]


Kahn is widely admired for the stamina he showed to overcome the stresses and pressures of his career.[85] His profile on the Bayern Munich website lists his attributes as "impatient, disciplined, ambitious".[2]

During the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea, Kahn gained popularity in Asia.[86] He was depicted in several television commercials, including one for the Shinkin bank.[87] In 2008, his wax figure in the Berlin branch of the Madame Tussaud museum was inaugurated.[88] Kahn is the subject of the song Olli Kahn by the German pop group Die Prinzen.[89]

Due to the formidable presence and influence that he showed during his professional career, Kahn's epithet is "The Titan".[90]

Career statistics


Season Club League League Cup Continental Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Germany League DFB-Pokal Europe Total
1987–88 Karlsruher SC Bundesliga[91] 2 0 0 0 2 0
1988–89 2 0 0 0 2 0
1989–90 0 0 0 0 0 0
1990–91 22 0 0 0 22 0
1991–92 37 0 2 0 39 0
1992–93 34 0 5 0 39 0
1993–94 31 0 3 0 10 0 44 0
1994–95 Bayern Munich 23 0 21 0 5 0 30 0
1995–96 32 0 2 0 12 0 46 0
1996–97 32 0 4 0 2 0 38 0
1997–98 34 0 8 0 8 0 50 0
1998–99 30 0 8 0 13 0 51 0
1999–00 27 0 5 0 13 0 45 0
2000–01 32 0 4 0 16 0 52 0
2001–02 32 0 5 0 14 0 51 0
2002–03 33 0 6 0 6 0 45 0
2003–04 33 0 5 0 8 0 46 0
2004–05 32 0 7 0 10 0 49 0
2005–06 31 0 6 0 7 0 44 0
2006–07 32 0 2 0 9 0 44 0
2007–08 26 0 7 0 9 0 42 0
Total Germany 557 0 81 0 142 0 780 0
Career total 557 0 81 0 142 0 780 0

1 Includes German Super Cup[92]



Germany national team
Year Apps Goals
1994 0 0
1995 2 0
1996 3 0
1997 3 0
1998 7 0
1999 6 0
2000 10 0
2001 10 0
2002 15 0
2003 9 0
2004 11 0
2005 7 0
2006 3 0
Total 86 0



Karlsruher SC II
Bayern Munich






Further reading

  • Nummer eins (in Deutsch). Droemer/Knaur. 2004.  
  • Ich. Erfolg kommt von Innen (in Deutsch). riva premium Verlag. 2008.  
  • Du packst es! Wie du schaffst, was du willst (in Deutsch). Pendo/Piper Verlag. 2010.  


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  3. ^ Jack Rollin. "Kahn's article on Encyclopædia Britannica Online".  
  4. ^ a b Lawrence, Amy (30 June 2002). Gorilla' with 1,000 arms"'".  
  5. ^ "Many new challenges ahead".  
  6. ^ Jack Rollin. "Oliver Kahn". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
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External links

  • Official website (German)
  • Oliver Kahn – FIFA competition record
  • Oliver Kahn's profile on Bayern Munich's official website
  • Oliver Kahn's article in Encyclopædia Britannica
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Oliver Bierhoff
Germany captain
Succeeded by
Michael Ballack
Preceded by
Stefan Effenberg
Bayern Munich captain
Succeeded by
Mark van Bommel
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