15. Juni 1969, Karlsruhe
1987 - 1994 Karlsruher SC
1994 - 2008 FC Bayern München
557 appearances (Bundesliga)
Deutscher Meister: 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008
DFB-Pokalsieger: 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008
UEFA Champions League Sieger: 2001
UEFA Pokal Sieger: 1996
The three-time World Goalkeeper of the Year was particularly adept at separating his professional and private lives. Known for being relaxed, humorous and courteous when interacting with friends and acquaintances, there was none of that on the pitch. Here, he strove to deliver peak performances and success for the team with the utmost tenacity and unbridled ambition, often with a face like thunder. In doing so, he set the highest standards for himself and his teammates. His outstanding consistency over many years ensured that his opinion became increasingly valued at club and national team level. Even if the things he vocally demanded had long been in place by their very nature. "Balls, we need balls!" is a famous Kahn saying that is still used today by subsequent generations of players when it comes to preparing their teammates to go into battle against tough opposition.
His motto, "keep going, always keep going!", was the key slogan in the 2000/2001 championship race. On the final day, he and Bayern Munich went 1-0 down in the last minute of the game at Hamburger SV, a scoreline that would have handed the title to rivals Schalke 04. Instead of being rooted to the spot in despair and resigning himself to a bitter fate, Kahn picked the ball out of the net and, uttering the aforementioned words, herded his teammates back to the centre spot to make the impossible possible as quickly as possible. Moments later, Bayern equalised, and Kahn was able to present the championship shield to the fans with the equally iconic statement, "here's that thing".
It was his seventh piece of silverware in his young Bayern career, having already won three league titles, two DFB Cups and the UEFA Cup. But that afternoon at the Volksparkstadion in Hamburg marked the start of Kahn's incredible metamorphosis from keeper to titan. For over the next 15 months, he displayed almost superhuman qualities between the sticks. First, he earned Bayern their first Champions League trophy in 25 years by saving three penalties in the final of European football's flagship competition against Valencia. Then, at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, he delivered a goalkeeping performance the like of which had rarely been seen before, steering Germany to an unexpected place in the World Cup final almost single-handedly. Yet Kahn was to become the tragic figure there, or rather returned to being human, ushering in defeat against Brazil with his only mistake of the tournament.
After winning a first-team place at hometown club Karlsruher SC in 1990, Kahn was the undisputed number one in the Bundesliga for 18 years, going on to make a record 557 appearances for a goalkeeper. At times, there may have been keepers blessed with more talent who tentatively knocked on his door. But they were all turned away. In no uncertain terms.