* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only
Oliver Rolf Kahn (German: [ˈɔlɪvɐ ˈkaːn]; born 15 June 1969) is a German former footballgoalkeeper. 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. Regarded as one of the greatest and most successful goalkeepers of all-time. His commanding presence in goal and aggressive style earned him nicknames such as Der Titan ([deːɐ̯ tiˈtaːn], English: the Titan) from the press and Vol-kahn-o ("volcano") from fans.
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, although Germany were not among the tournament favourites, Kahn's prowess in goal was key to reaching the final, where Germany lost 0–2 to Brazil and Kahn made a mistake on Brazil's first goal; nonetheless, he received the Golden Ball as player of the tournament.
At the age of six, Kahn joined Karlsruher SC, where his father Rolf had played from 1962 to 1965. He started as an outfield player before becoming goalkeeper. 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 away defeat to 1. FC Köln. However, not until 1990 did manager Winfried Schäfer decide to start him over Famulla. 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. 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. The game was nicknamed the "Miracle at Wildparkstadion" by the German media. The team was defeated by SV Austria Salzburg in the semi-final.
Kahn's performance for Karlsruher SC prompted Bayern Munich to express interest in acquiring him. 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, 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. Bayern defeated Bordeaux 3–1 in the 1996 UEFA Cup Final. In the 1996–97 Bundesliga season, Kahn achieved his first German championship with Bayern Munich, the German League Cup, and was named German Goalkeeper of the Year for the second time in his career (the first in 1994).
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. He was named man of the match when he was part of the squad which played the 2001 Champions League title against Valencia. He played an important role in the penalty shoot-out held after the teams remained tied 1–1 after extra time, making three saves. 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. The same year, Bayern Munich won the Intercontinental Cup at Tokyo's National Stadium against the Argentine team Boca Juniors. But the team failed to win the UEFA Super Cup a couple of months earlier.
Kahn training with Bayern in 2008
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. 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. Bayern Munich won the next Bundesliga season with Kahn.
Kahn at his Bayern testimonial match in September 2008 for his 14 years of service to the club
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.
Kahn announced his intention to honour his contract and play through the 2007–08 season. As of 2011, he is the all time clean sheet leader in the history of the Bundesliga, with 197. On 2 September 2007, aged 38, he played his 535th Bundesliga match, becoming the league's all-time leader among goalkeepers in matches played. 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. His last Bundesliga game was the 4–1 victory against Hertha Berlin on 17 May. It was his 557th appearance in the German top-flight.
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. 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.
Oliver Kahn was recently asked if there was anyone who could tell him what to do. 'Who can?' he mused. 'The only thing which engages me is what I can do to be successful.' In other words, nobody can tell Bayern Munich's goalkeeper Oliver Kahn what to do. He is, and always has been, alone with his obsession to become the master of his chosen art.
— Amy Lawrence of The Guardian on Kahn’s mentality, 30 June 2002.
Kahn experienced one of his worst performances in his international career against England in Munich in 2001. Germany were favoured to win as they had beaten England 1–0 in 2000 at the Wembley Stadium. However, they were routed 5–1, including a hat-trick by Michael Owen. 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. Kahn was named the best goalkeeper in the world by IFFHS for the second time in his career.
Despite Germany's comparatively low expectations when for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the team advanced to the finals; Kahn conceded only three goals in the course of the competition, two of which were in the Final. 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; nevertheless he refused to blame his injury for his mistake. The FIFA Technical Study Group awarded him with the Lev Yashin Award for the best goalkeeper of the tournament, while also edging out tournament top scorer Ronaldo to receive the Golden Ball for the best individual performance. Kahn is the only goalkeeper in World Cup history to win the Golden Ball, and also became the first German goalkeeper to keep five clean sheets in a World Cup tournament.
"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.
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. 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. 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. In the postgame conference, Kahn publicly praised Lehmann for his two decisive penalty saves.
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. Although overshadowed by Bastian Schweinsteiger's game-winning performance in the match, Kahn played to a high standard, pulling off several saves. 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. Following the match, Oliver Kahn announced his retirement from the German National Team. Throughout his international career he earned 86 caps for Germany, including 49 as team captain. He never won a World Cup, but finished as runner-up in 2002 and third in 2006.
Due to his performances during the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea, Kahn gained popularity in Asia. He was depicted in several television commercials, including one for the Shinkin bank. In 2008, his wax figure in the Berlin branch of the Madame Tussaud museum was inaugurated. Kahn is the subject of the song Olli Kahn by the German pop group Die Prinzen.
After the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship, he joined the ZDF sports team as an analyst for the German national team's games. In 2009, he was part of the jury of a China Central Television reality show, which aimed to find China's best young goalkeeper. 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.
Kahn was born in Karlsruhe. He is partly of Latvian descent; his father Rolf was born in Liepāja in 1943, where he remains well-known, to a Latvian mother, Ērika (née Alksnis), and a Baltic German father, also named Rolf. Rolf briefly played professionally for Karlsruher SC, as did his son Axel, Oliver Kahn's older brother.
In 2009, he was offered the position of manager for the FC Schalke 04, which he turned down. 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.
He supports the Munich street-football league Bunt kickt gut, which is considered a pioneer project of organised street-football and a Germany and Europe-wide model of intercultural understanding, education values and prevention; the Sepp-Herberger foundation, which promotes football in schools, clubs, and prisons; and the Justin Rockola Association, whose goal is the protection of young people against violence, alcohol and drugs.
He received his coaching licence in 2010. After having studied business at the Privatuniversität Schloss Seeburg Kahn obtained a Master of Business Administration degree in 2012. His thesis topic was "Strategic management in Germany's professional soccer".
In 1999, Kahn married Simone, with whom he has two children: Katharina-Maria (born 28 December 1998) and David (born 7 March 2003). The couple separated in 2003 and Kahn thereafter had a highly publicised 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).
Style of play
Kahn in 2006
Regarded as one of the greatest and most successful goalkeepers of all-time, in addition to his goalkeeping technique, agility, reflexes, distribution, command of his area, and shot-stopping abilities, Kahn is widely admired for the stamina, mental strength, and composure he showed to overcome the stresses and pressures of his career. His profile on the Bayern Munich website lists his attributes as "impatient, disciplined, ambitious".
Known for his eccentricity and charismatic leadership from the back, which often saw him call out his defenders whenever they made errors, due to the formidable presence, commanding influence, and aggressive playing style that he showed in goal during his professional career, Kahn's epithet is "The Titan"; he was also frequently nicknamed "King Kahn" throughout his career.
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
^"Das Losglück hat uns verlassen" [The luck of the draw has left us]. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung GmbH. 1 December 2003. Archived from the original on 18 October 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2011.
^Osang, Alexander (5 June 2002). "Wer kann mir noch was sagen?" [Who can tell me something?]. Der Spiegel (in German). Spiegel-Verlag. Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2011.