Bayern Munich has had legendary players, and, at times, we feel nostalgic and miss them when we face issues currently that those players from the past could have solved. Today, we will continue this BFW Series by putting the spotlight on two former Bayern players (and one non-Bayern player) that I miss personally.
Nowadays, der Titan is seen as a calmer personality that shines with his business knowledge, but Oliver Kahn once was an internationally feared goalkeeper that ruled the Bayern goalposts with an iron fist... or a karate kick... or a nose poke... or a neck grab...
For me, Kahn is an impeccable fighter and one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. Kahn caught Bayern’s attention after many superb performances at Karlsruher SC, and he joined Bayern in 1994 and had an amazing 14-year spell, winning title after title. It is a shame that he did not win the 2001 Ballon d’Or, but his performances — such as in the 2001 Champions League Final, where had had three saves in the penalty shootout against Valencia CF and became the Man of the Match — were out of this world.
Kahn was a formidable player with a menacing persona, but also an empathetic side. He tried to cheer up Valencia’s goalkeeper Santiago Cañizares after their final defeat — a bitter experience that Kahn had witnessed himself when Bayern Munich lost to Manchester United in 1999. On that occasion, Bayern led entire game before conceding two heartbreaking goals in two minutes of added time. Kahn was later fully supportive of Jens Lehmann despite losing his number one spot in the German national team.
Kahn is an explosive player that I believe would have grabbed a player or two by the collar today to galvanize them, lift up their spirits, and drive them to excellence. Thankfully, we can still enjoy Olli since he is the current Bayern CEO. And every now and then, the Vol-kahn-o still erupts...
To me, Stefan Effenberg and Oliver Kahn were the definition of Bayern Munich, and both of them were a huge reason why I fell in love with this club. So much aggression, mentality, charisma, and iron will.
Effenberg had two spells at Bayern. After an outstanding time at Borussia Mönchengladbach, der Tiger joined the Bavarians in 1990 and he was just as ferocious as his nickname implied. Effe left the club after two years due to personal issues and returned in 1998 after a two-year stint with ACF Fiorentina and another four years with Borussia Mönchengladbach. Putting his personal scandals aside, he was a leader that possessed the needed presence on the pitch to fire up the team and intimidate the opponent. Sure, he had a temperament and collected over 100 yellow cards in the Bundesliga (I believe that is a record...), but as a captain, he knew exactly how to motivate the team without sugarcoating issues.
He was part of the 1999 Champions League final disaster against Manchester United and witnessed a horrific defeat, but in the 2001 Champions League final, he demonstrated determination when he scored the equalizing goal from the penalty spot against Valencia as well as a goal in the penalty shootout later on. He was also recognized as the Most Valuable Player of the 2001 season at the UEFA Gala Awards. Sometimes, I wish we still had him on the team when lackluster performances take place, and we are in need of someone to say that things are bad without a filter.
Non-Bayern player: Didier Drogba
Yes, Didier Drogba. The player that broke our hearts in the 2012 Champions League final when we were leading 1:0 against Chelsea FC after 83 minutes thanks to a goal from Thomas Müller just to concede a goal in a devastating manner by none other than the Ivorian legend. He also scored the decisive goal in the penalty shootout that would follow and led Chelsea to victory (with Bastian Schweinsteiger failing to convert the penalty right before him). Oh, how I could not forgive Drogba for a very long time (not sure to this day whether I am entirely over it). However, his speed, strength, and aerial prowess were undeniable and made Drogba one of the true greats of Chelsea and one of the best African players of all time.
Not that anything is particularly missing with current Bayern striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who just agreed on a contract extension until 2024. It’s just that a striker like Drogba is sorely missed when we play against tight teams that make it difficult to score. Drogba possessed the raw ability to sneak past defenders with a killer instinct to convert even the impossible ones out of nowhere.
Who do you miss and did I cause some nostalgia with these Champions League final moments? Sounds like we need to lift the Henkelpott again. A great step towards that goal could be made with a victory against Paris Saint-Germain F.C. on March 8th.