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Oliver Kahn reveals struggles with depression, burnout during his playing career

In a new documentary, the Bayern Munich executive discussed his battle with emotional exhaustion as he approached the pinnacle of his career.

Oliver Kahn in April 1999.
Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

He was a titan on the field: but while Oliver Kahn stormed his way to the top at Bayern Munich and the German national team in the 1990s, he also battled with depression and burnout. That is what Kahn revealed in a new documentary, FC Bayern – Behind the Legend.

“Depression, burnout, those are also all things that somehow coincide,” Kahn said. “At the end of the 1990s, I was simply exhausted.” It was the same period in which everything seemed to be trending upwards for Kahn: Bayern won the Bundesliga three times in a row from 1998/1999 to 2000/2001, And Kahn himself would prove to be the hero of Bayern’s 2000/2001 Champions League campaign—saving three penalties in the shootout against Valencia in the final.

That success apparently came in spite of serious distress off the pitch. In describing the late 90s, Kahn said, “I think, when you can’t go up your own stairs at home anymore without falling over exhausted—then you start to think things over.”

Kahn reprised his famous quote, “Weiter, immer weiter!” (Onward, ever onward) with a sobering commentary: “You also see where that can bring you. Always higher, ever onward. And still onward. And another one on top of that! Still never satisfied. When you no longer manage to maintain this regularity between tension and relaxation, then that’s a signal from your body: ‘This is it, I can’t go on.’ Not everything is doable after all.”

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