10 Best Football Players: Then And Now
In the 1980s and 1990s football was different. Appearing on the covers of magazines or selling underwear was unheard of, even for the football elite. It was the sport itself that counted. Whatever happened to the high rollers we all grew up with?
Back then it was a different era. Back then men were still men, on the pitch and off the pitch. Back then football players were popstars who saw no sense in appearing on the covers of high-gloss magazines or starting their own underwear collection. Back then football was raw, and its heroes said it how it was.
Remember When Football Was A Man’s Business?
Football of today has lost a good portion of that spirit. With ever-growing commercialisation, mediocricy and political correctness have gained ground in what used to be a sport embraced by men, and men only. Compared to the Beckhams and Ronaldos of today, the football superstars of the 1990s, who were spitting and smoking, argueing and fighting, seem outlived, as if they came from an era that was incompatible with today’s version of the sport. The big names in football that we grew up with are as compatible with the sport of today as a 1995 floppy disk is compatible with a flash drive.
Bringing Big Names Back In
Who were these men that we loved for their scandals and their big mouths – and not for them visiting schools in the third world? Whatever happened to the rough-around-the-edges players after they quit active duty? Today is hero-rememberance day as we are looking into the past, present and future of some of the best football players Europe has ever seen.
Many have remained the same. Some have fallen. Others have been resurrected. Here come the lives and fortunes of ten of the best football players of the last decades.
Best Football Players from 1980 to 2000: The Shortcuts
1 | OLIVER KAHN
Who He Is
“King Kahn” the Germans call him. “Kahn – Titan” is another popular moniker for him. Why the nickname “Titan”, you ask? Not only do you have to know that Titan in German is pronounced “Tee-Tawn”, thus rhyming with Kahn. The overwhelming impact of Oliver Kahn on German football also shows in another striking fact: if the goalkeeper acts as captain for almost half a decade, as was the case with Mr Kahn, then there definitely is some truth to the titan-factor of Oliver Kahn.
Besides ruling over the German national football team, Oliver Kahn is also renowned for being the perfect example of what is commonly known as the German Wall. Even if you get past Germany’s defense players with their thighs the size of tree trunks, the worst is always yet to come. Because never-ever has a German goalkeeper measured in at less than 1,88m, and always will their hands be as swift as those of Edward Scissorhands, snatching the ball off of you faster than an American tourist gets ripped off in a Riga strip joint.
Oliver Kahn was awarded the title of World’s Best Goalkeeper by the IFFHS not once, not twice, but thrice, and he received comparable awards en masse from the UEFA (4 times) and the German Premiere League (5 times).
Where He Is Now
Oliver Kahn ended his professional career in 2008 and since then started a side-career as a commentator for German national TV. Nothing too spectacular so far, right? Right. But luck had it that Mr Kahn’s testosterone-ridden performances on the field – at one time he went Mike Tyson on an opponent striker, attempting to bite him in the neck – became immensely popular in Asia.
In China he not only earned the nickname of “Nuhou Tianzun” which is roughly translated into English as “furious arch angel”, he was also awarded his own TV series. Believe it or not, but similar to talent shows in the US and Europe Oliver Kahn acted as the host, mentor and main juror on “China’s Next Super-Keeper”.
But just like he was haunted with never winning the World Cup, his TV show faced a similar fate. Chinese censors feared the media attention from the West sparked by Mr Kahn and his show, and they canceled the program literally minutes before it was to go on air. Scheisse.
2 | ROBERTO BAGGIO
Who He Is
It’s the 17th of July, 1994, and we are inside The Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California. The atmosphere is electric and as tense as it could ever be in a place like this. You can feel the weight of the worried and the curious gaze of hundreds of millions of people from around the world. The silent tension of 94,000 people in the stadium is overwhelming as all of them are holding their breath.
These are the most demanding, most stressing, most difficult moments in the life of a professional football player. It is the penalty shootout of the 1994 World Cup finals. Italy and Brazil battled hard, but it all came down to this. And there’s arguably the best player of the tournament stepping up to take the deciding spot-kick. Roberto Baggio, the guy wearing one of the most preposterous mullets the world has ever seen, knows it is either score or die. If he misses, it’s over.
And boy, did he miss. As he was running towards the ball you could already see the massive fail that was about to take place. And so it happened. The ball went blatantly over the crossbar, just like Italy’s world cup dreams went out window. By this, a hero became a villain.
That is basically all you need to know about Roberto Baggio if anyone ever asks, and it will be an everlasting argument in Italian cafés across the country to decide what was in fact more embarrassing: His insistence on that utterly horrible mullet or his brutal miss in the finals. Today, people have forgiven Mr Baggio more for his miss than for the haircut. To be fair, he was a truly gifted striker, and a key member of the trophy-hoarding Juventus side in his early twenties, scoring goals like it was a pastime activity.
Where He Is Now
After being ignored in the national team for years, he officially hung up his boots in 2004. Baggio started to live a surprisingly quiet life, despite being a poster boy in Italian and even Japanese pop culture in his active days.
Today he owns a ranch in Argentina and does charity work, all the while casually converting to Buddhism. He also was a member of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) for three years until 2013 when he had enough of his colleagues constantly confusing him for a deranged cleaner and nobody actually listening to him.
3 | ALAN SHEARER
Who He Is
The early to mid-nineties weren’t exactly a very good time for English football. The golden generation of the 1980’s, led by Lineker, was winding down and their world championship window abruptly closed with that semi-final exit from the 1990 World Cup.
So yes, things weren’t exactly roses. And then, out of nothing, came a young striker. Besides being a prolific poacher, Alan Shearer successfully convinced people that he’s in fact not 46 years old, despite looking like an athletic Homer Simpson coming to life.
All credit to him though, he really lived up to his looks, playing like a true English gentleman, with such finesse and flair you could rarely see in British stadiums around that time. He was a key member of the 93/94 Blackburn Rovers, a small mid-table club that turned the league upside down and became Premiere League champion, a feat we can only compare to Leicester City’s recent triumph.
That of course propelled Shearer to superstardom, but in a good sense. In 1996, his dream came true: He was signed to play for his hometown club, his beloved Newcastle United with whom he fought arch rival Manchester United for the Premiere League championship a couple of years, albeit failing on both occasions.
It also was around that time when he committed the only dirty foul in his life ever. He kicked Leicester’s Neil Lennon in the head. Nobody in England believed such a thing would happen, but after the skies didn’t fall over, insisted it was Lennon who had head-butted Shearer’s foot.
Where He Is Now
After retiring in 2006, Shearer became a BBC pundit as he was the only ex-footballer in England who was capable of forming comprehensive sentences in front of a camera. Him and Lineker, of course.
Shearer only once tried coaching or management. This was, of course, with Newcastle United. He took over for the last 8 games of a miserable season that saw the team facing relegation. By his talent, Shearer was seen as a savior to the club which is something that, as we all know, never ends well.
And so it did with Alan Shearer. He was able to lift the players’ broken spirits, but it was too little too late. Newcastle’s dreadful football remained which meant the Magpies went down and Alan Shearer didn’t get the permanent job. He has not worked in football ever since.
4 | LOTHAR MATTHÄUS
Who He Is
Measuring in at only 1,71 meter Lothar Matthäus is not exactly the tallest defensive midfielder the world has ever seen. He was, however, one of the most successful ones.
Starting out in the local football scene of Herzogenaurach, a small town in the North of Bavaria better known for being the home base of sports brands Puma and Adidas, Matthäus became a professional athlete in 1979 when he was only 18 years old. Fast forward one year later, and the young Matthäus is selected for Germany’s National Team. His first international championship, the Euro Cup of 1980, Matthäus won at age 19. This tournament was followed by a total of five attendances to international tournaments of which he also won the 1990 World Cup finals against Argentina.
In total, his track record with the German National Team reads like no other: record holding member for total matches with a count of 150, record holding team captain on 75 occasions, record holding … – you get the idea. Once he ended his career in 2001 he not only became the National coach of Bulgaria (2010-11), but also had a quick intermezzo with the National team of Hungary (2004-05).
Lothar Matthäus gained unwanted media attention when he – at the very end of his career – joined the New York Metro Stars, an US-American football club. “Unwanted” in the sense that a whole nation was laughing at the man who now made a living playing for those guys who, you know, refer to football as “soccer”. But that didn’t bother him much. He was all too busy starting out with his real career (read on).
Where He Is Now
When it is an unwritten rule that football players become TV commentators before they are forgotten, then Lothar Matthäus is the exception to that rule.
Did Matthäus become a prototype of David Beckham instead, jet-setting around the world while smiling from the covers of men’s magazines? Much better than that. After he quit sports Matthäus started a profound side-career as the romancer of women so gorgeous most men would wrestle it out with each other just to lay a hand on them.
After divorcing his first wife, Lolita (her actual name), a Swiss beauty pageant with a degree in Egyptology, Lothar went for Serbian fashion model Marijana Kostić, eventually marrying her in 2003.
Now, what do you do if you are married to a Belgrade Bombshell ten years younger than you? That’s right, you ditch her for a Ukrainian fashion model who is twenty-six years younger than you. And when his fourth marriage with Kiev-born Kristina Liliana Čoudinova failed, Lothar eased his pain by dating Polish underwear model Joanna Tuczyńska. If you don’t see a pattern in this by now then let me just tell you that his 5th wife, Anastasia Klimko, is from Russia.
It is a blatant irony in history that Lothar Matthäus was only rewarded for his athletic performance, but never for his real talent: separating the weed from the chaff by tracking down the highest quality in women Europe has to offer.
I am officially tipping my hat to you, Mr Matthäus, hoping to learn about your 6th marriage soon, preferably through some gossip website on the internet. After all, Hungary, Belarus and the Czech Republic are still untapped by good ‘ole Lodda, as the tabloids call him.
5 | MICHAEL OWEN
Who He Is
It’s slowly turning to the late 1990s and England needs a new hero. At that time Alan Shearer isn’t a novelty anymore, Paul Gascoigne’s decline is well set in motion, and the semi-final finish in the 1996 Euros – held in England, mind you – was seen as a failure. There were already a few names in the hero-to-be list, many of them from the Manchester United Youth’s class of ’92. These were players like Scholes, the Neville brothers or David Beckham himself. But the one who rose the highest, despite being adorably small, was dynamic striker Michael Owen.
Owen was only seventeen when he broke into Liverpool’s starting 11. And at nineteen years of age he already became one of the biggest stars on the English national team, scoring a spectacular goal against Argentina. After that there was no question Owen is on the fast-track to fame, leading Liverpool to a frenzy of trophies in the early 2000s, and while he carefully established a ‘good-boy’ vibe around him, it was only a matter of time before he would take the next step. That step came in 2004 when Spanish giant Real Madrid finally managed to sign him.
Once a team member of Madrid Owen officially achieved ‘celebrity-athlete’- status which lasted him – exactly one month and not a day more. In Madrid Owen had a massively slow start, and it finally dawned on head-coach Carlos Queiroz what every football fan had known from day one: Owen’s style just didn’t fit the ‘Galacticos’ picture.
Don’t get me wrong here, he had all the skills needed, but that was hardly enough for the Real Madrid of that era. In all fairness, no one can really say what was ever good enough for Real Madrid at that time. Although he warmed-up eventually, he was still let go the next summer. After his release he was signed by Newcastle United which indicated only one thing: things were about go South with Michael Owen.
He still managed to infuriate those few in Newcastle that did not already hate him when he signed with arch-rival Manchester United in 2009. In Manchester Owen didn’t do much on the field. Off-the field, he did quite a lot. This includes convincing his marketing team to create a PR brochure to be sent out to every Premier League team in a desperate attempt to be signed after failing at Manchester. Owen ended up in Stoke which is where skill and talent go to die.
Where He Is Now
Like any other English footballer in the history of the sport, Owen also tried himself at punditry. His “striking” success is best described by the sheer existence of a Twitter account named ‘Obvious Owen’. Let’s just say our Michael isn’t always the sharpest tool in the shed. This being said, it is highly fortunate he was rejected from flight school while in Newcastle. Because, yes, at some point Owen was applying to become a helicopter pilot.
Apart from all this, Michael Owen today lives a quiet life. Like most rich Brits he owns racehorses and actually is the proud owner of Royal Ascot-winning ‘Brown Panther’ (because he is, you know, brown). Also, besides being an entrepreneur, he invests in smaller companies related to sports, and has also embarrassed himself with a horrible Fu Manchu-style beard.
6 | RUDI VÖLLER
Who He Is
Football is full of nicknames. Nicknames like Gazza (Paul Gascoigne), Super Mario (Mario Basler), Becks (David Beckham), Snake-Man (Rob Rensenbrink). Odd as they are none of these names will ever come close to–Tante Käthe. Yes indeed, for some incomprehensible reason one of the most successful German strikers of all times has earned himself the nickname of “Aunt Kathy”.
Translating Tante Käthe the literal way as Aunt Kathy actually is an understatement. In Germany, the nickname Käthe (for Katharina) does not resemble an elderly woman, but a woman so old she probably waived at one of the Kaiser’s parades when she was a kid (no, not Franz ‘The Kaiser’ Beckenbauer). In that sense, Aunt Gertrude would be a more fitting translation.
From his first club Kickers Offenbach Rudi Völler transferred first to Bundesliga team SV Werder Bremen, then to Bayer 04 Leverkusen until he got to play with the big guys which in his case meant AS Rome. However, his greatest hour came during the 1990 World Cup Final. Here, Völler he did an undercover assist in order to help secure Germany’s third trophy. In the 84. Minute Völler took one for the team when he was fouled in the penalty area. Midfielder Andreas Brehme then sealed the deal with the following penalty and Germany won the World Cup 1:0.
Rudi Völler’s career as Germany’s National Coach took off more by coincident than by plan. Originally, he was scheduled to take the lead only for one year when the actual about-to-be coach, Mr Christoph Daum, had the glorious idea to crush his reputation with a self-inflicted cocaine scandal.
Incited by an interview given by Uli Höneß, godfather of Bayern Munich, Christoph Daum gained the internal nickname of being the “snuffy” Mister Daum. Appalled by the ludicrous rumors about him snorting cocaine like a vacuum cleaner, Christoph Daum went ahead and handed in a DNA sample of his hair. The sample went right to the labs and was tested for any traces of the Yayo. To make a long story short, once test results showed that Christoph Daum had indeed been snorting cocaine like a vacuum cleaner, Rudi Völler became the man of the hour. He led Germany’s National team until 2004, leading it to the finals of the 2002 World Cup.
Where He Is Now
Even though reaching the finals in the 2002 World Cup was seen as a huge success – there was no shame in losing 0:2 against overwhelmingly powerful Brazil – Rudi Völler’s career as a coach had a tragic element to it.
His success of winning the World Cup as a player, or any other international tournament for that matter, was something he could never repeat as a coach. Managing the German National team from 2001 to 2004, a time in which the overall performance of the DFB-Elf was nothing to write home about, Rudi Völler had to answer for more embarrassing performances than he deserved. Needless to say that this lead to a series of outbursts on his side, something he soon gained a reputation for.
Now, the occasional outburst featuring personal insults against TV personalities is deeply valued in German football culture. After the initial shock the media will book it as “[X] tells it how it is!” and the outraged coach will be celebrated for weeks until the waves have calmed again.
The only difference with Rudi Völler was that weak performances and the following outbursts – for example when he had to answer for a totally avoidable 0:3 defeat against Iceland in 2003 – became more of a routine than an exception. Völler resigned as National coach in 2004 when the German team got stomped in the preliminary round of the ‘04 Euro Cup.
And from here on began the downgrades. Ironically, these happened in reverse order of the previous ‘upgrades’. First, Völler signed up as coach with AS Rome, only to resign one month later after facing measly results with the Italians. Völler then rejoined Bayer 04 Leverkusen where he works as sports director until this very day.
As the waves have definitely calmed Germans will remember Rudi Völler forever as the one coach who always spoke up for himself even when times were rough. – And, of course, as the defenseless victim of heinous Dutchman Frank Rijkaard who had the nerve to spit at him twice in the quarter finals of the ’90 World Cup. In Völler’s own words before the game: “I have been waiting two years for this day. I would like nothing more than to send the Dutch home” – and you did, Tante Käthe, you did.
7 | DENNIS BERGKAMP
Who He Is
I honestly don’t know if there has been one footballer more lovable than Dennis Bergkamp. His whole being was just something everyone liked, and he never really did anything to earn it. It just came to him
His life-path is one of those that are decided at the very moment he was born. His football-mad father named him after his idol, Scottish striker Dennis Law, and young Dennis hadn’t really had any chance of becoming, say, a plumber. Young Dennis’ otherworldly talent was spotted at an early age by Ajax scouts, and he was lucky enough to be brought up in the Dutch school of Total Football, chiseled to perfection by the likes of Johan Cruyff.
From that point on there was no stopping him: He tore up defenses and ruined goalkeepers’ lives at Inter and later Arsenal, the place where he finally found his home. His partnership with Thierry Henry was seen by English fans as something like a Second Coming and, to be honest, a lot of people still wonder how humanity deserved to see such an amazing offensive pairing. Bergkamp’s flair, first touch, intelligent play and incredible eye for goal is something I’m yet to see anyone recreate ever since.
To some, he looked like the Rain Man of football, very introverted and always a little weird, even on the pitch. But maybe that is exactly what helped him sense what will happen 3-4 seconds from now, and it looked like he was using some sort of supernatural cheat code to always do whatever he just wanted with the ball. He very rarely made a real bad move.
Due to his personality, he was at times also intimidating to opposing players as he was never a guy you could push around: If you tackle him, prepare for his scorching vengeance. A lot of criticism went his way for that, but since he’s one of the very rare species of actually clever footballers, he could make a concise case for himself, saying he is only protecting himself from the barrage of aggressive tackles going his way. And if you think about it, he was right.
Another thing that raises him out of the crowd is his debilitating fear of flying.
In fact, things were so bad he missed a lot of foreign away games for club and country as he was literally incapable to get on a plane. Unfortunately, no therapy could help his anxiety. For this, worshiping Arsenal fans quickly named him the ‘non-Flying Dutchman’. But this was as much a term of endearment as one could ever be, and you can’t say he didn’t try. Wherever he could, he went by car, train or boat. I can only hope he at least liked road-trips.
Where He Is Now
Upon ending his career in 2006, Bergkamp swore he wouldn’t remain in football, and especially wouldn’t get into coaching.
Ironically, he had made plans to travel around with his family, although obviously not by plane. Sad as it was, his Mr T-like disease (“I ain’t getting on no plane!”) had not faded one bit. However, after years and millions of kilometers of driving, his kids finally got sick of road-trip mixtapes, and our Dennis eventually changed his mind: he finally took up studies in Ajax’s own coaching academy and has been working for the Dutch U19 team ever since.
8 | ERIC CANTONA
Who He Is
There are not many footballers who are seen as full-blooded villains by nearly everybody. And even Eric Cantona wasn’t entirely seen as the Satan of football as the more rugged-out Manchester United fans worshiped him like an idol.
An Idol, because what he could do with the ball and how he could convert any twisted, physically impossible situation into goals was simply beyond comparison. For everyone else, he became enemy No 1 on that inglorious Saturday afternoon in 1995 when he went Karate Kid on an unfortunate Fulham fan.
Cantona was always a bit of an outsider, even back in his youth days in France. His physical prowess made him a rare breed of power forward. This was rather new to French fans who were more used to players like Platini and the act of condition-less surrender at any sign of a threat. Such cowardliness was against the lifeblood of ‘King Eric’, and it made him a fan-favorite when he sailed over to Premiere League. Winning four league titles and two FA cups with Manchester United certainly helped, too.
To be fair to him, after serving his 8-month ban from his Bruce Lee reenactment in 1995 he had definitely learned from his mistakes and became less aggressive on and off the pitch. His eccentric way of life, however, prevailed. As his footballing days were setting, he decided it would a great idea to become an actor. Since he was a revered athlete all over Europe who also happened to be looking like a thug from the worst suburbs of Marseille, nobody had the guts to say no to him. That made Mr. Cantona not only a top footballer, but a lousy actor as well, something he did until he got bored with it and then turned to directing instead.
Cantona quit football in 1998 when he was only 32 years old. The reason for the early exit? Let’s hear it from the man himself: “Sometimes I feel I quit too young. I loved the game but I no longer had the passion to go to bed early, not to go out with my friends, not to drink, and not to do a lot of other things, the things I like in life.” In short, professional football got the boot because it interfered with his Playboy lifestyle. – All credit to him, though, his is exactly the kind mentality we can sympathize with and his honesty about everything he does is rather respectable.
Where He Is Now
Due to his obsession with everything film-related and his mild exhibitionism, Eric Cantona has been a poster boy for media and advertising campaigns in the 2000s. Among his most notable appearances ranks Nike’s Joga Bonito initiative, a short-lived PR-stunt to promote a new type of street-football that focuses on the beauty of the game. The fact that Roundhouse-kick-Cantona was in the forefront of something promoting “the beauty of the game” is taking the piss at the very least, but what can you do.
Maybe connected to that, or maybe not, he later decided it would be hilarious if he returned to football in the form of Beach Soccer. He did that until 2008 when France first hosted the game’s World Cup. They were defeated in the quarterfinals, and at that point Cantona decided it was a stupid game anyway. He’s now working as a Director of Football (“Soccer”) with an American club, the New York Cosmos.
9 | HRISTO STOICHKOV
Who He Is
Sometimes I hate life for not putting me down on this earth a few years earlier. Because then, I might have had the chance to watch Hristo Stoichkov play.
Stoichkov grew up in a tiny village in Bulgaria, and I’m probably not ruining the story by stating that they renamed the place from Yasno Pole to Stoichkovo by the time he retired.
He made a strong statement about his ‘explosive’ personality very early on in his career when he instigated a major on-field brawl in the 1985 Bulgarian Cup Final. His punishment: a ban for life. Bulgarian authorities don’t mess around. Luckily, this was later reduced to a 1-year suspension after the court of appeal thought a life-ban would be a bit of an overkill in a country and in a time where fights are pretty much a common part of everyday life.
After that – while I would not say he calmed down all that much – his football came to the forefront. It was pure black-magic and it wasn’t long before he was being bought away from the Bulgarian Premiere League. Stoichkov did not stop until he got to the beautiful city of Barcelona. Once there he quickly made another statement on his ‘explosive’ personality and stomped on a referee – two months’ suspension. We can call that progress.
After that it was just the usual: winning practically everything, being the final piece in the puzzle for Juhan Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team’ at Barca, driving the Total Football model to perfection.
This is all good, but what really stand out are his heroics in the Bulgarian National team, especially during the memorable 1994 World Cup. Stoichkov played brilliantly, co-earning the top scorer title, while leading the team to a massively surprising semi-final spot. This included Stoichkov humiliating the whole defensive corps of the main contenders and title-holders Germany.
Where He Is Now
His otherwise lovable personality – as in, he did not head-butt reporters or fans most of the time – would have him destined for a punditry job, and that is exactly what he is doing these days. Stoichkov works for a Spanish-language sports channel in the United States. Because he happens to speak perfect Spanish, too.
After his stint with the Bulgarian national team, he took up coaching jobs all over the world, most notably in South Africa and Vietnam, but never really stayed anywhere. Mostly because nobody could understand his angry rants which were supposed to be tactical directions. Since then, he’s doing what he’s second best at: Criticizing everyone in a funny way, because he’s absolutely entitled to.
10 | ANDREAS KÖPKE
Who He Is
What is it with German players always looking like extras out of Saving Private Ryan? Well-built and with a mean look on their face, many of them seem like the Gung-Ho apples in the bunch. In the case of Andreas Köpke nothing could be more fitting. The man not only looks hard-as-nails, he is hard-as-nails. Add to his die-hard attitude a pair of hands the size of frying pans and Andreas ‘Andi’ Köpke is the first prototype of what later became the German-Wall-Principle.
If you still have no idea who Andreas Köpke is then allow me to ask you a very random question: do you remember a song titled Three Lions? The one that acted as England’s official anthem for the 1996 Euro Cup? “Three Lions on a shirt / Jules Rimet still gleaming” – yes, that song. The most striking part in Three Lions is that it starts off with a sound clip of an English radio reporter who frantically yells out “Oh, it’s saved!” several times at the very beginning of the song.
And this has what to do with Herr Köpke? Andreas Köpke was the reason for the radio reporter’s meltdown. Because two decades ago, during the semi-finals of the 1996 Euro Cup, we were facing the classic World War III scenario: a penalty shoot-out between Germany and England where Andreas Köpke was in charge of the German goal.
In the course of the penalties all takers on both teams score and get their job done. Now the penalties are as good as over. From now on it all rests in the hands of the goalkeepers. The big, massive hands of the goalkeepers.
We are in the 6th round when…when Andreas Köpke unexpectedly seals the German Wall like Captain Picard seals the shield of the Enterprise. The shields are up, he even catches the ball, and death-like silence spreads across the stadium. Only English striker Gareth Southbridge starts to cry. Due to Mr Köpke, the only thing “coming home” in 1996 wasn’t football, but a set of broken men.
Where He Is Now
If you still believe that Germany wins title after title through their lone strikers and their midfielders, then little do you know. The one guy always sealing the deal for them is their goal keeper. And Andreas Köpke is a prime specimen of that category.
Not only did he manage to end 28 out 59 matches of his professional career without ever letting a ball slip through – a record within the German National Team, topping even Oliver Kahn – Andreas Köpke has also been appointed the National goal keeping coach more than 12 years ago. Still active to this very day, Köpke stays out of the spotlight and focuses on results instead. He has trained and advised men like Oliver Kahn, Jens Lehmann and Manuel Neubauer.
Living a scandal-free life and working as a motivational and leadership adviser for high-scale German corporations full-time Andreas Köpke is in fact – Saving Private Ryan resemblance or not – a soldier of the game.