Ballack decides to quit Bayern Munich
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Ballack decides to quit Bayern Munich

Having outgrown the Bundesliga, Michael Ballack has decided to quit home German club to join Englishchampions Chelsea.

india Updated: May 15, 2006 18:40 IST

Michael Ballack has made the logical decision to quit Bayern Munich and move abroad after outgrowing the Bundesliga.

At the age of 29, Germany's outstanding player needed a new challenge and will find it from next season with English champions Chelsea.

"For me he is one of the best players in the world," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said of Ballack before the deal was done. "He's very intelligent, tactically very strong and he scores a lot of goals."

It is easy to see why Mourinho is such a fan of a player who can take any role in midfield, spraying passes around when the team are on top, snapping at heels when the opposition is doing better and hurling himself forward when nothing but a goal will do.

Ballack, born in Goerlitz in the old East Germany, has won the German Football of the Year award three times. The league and cup double Bayern clinched earlier this month was their third in the four years he has been with them.

This season he has scored 14 league goals, and most of them were decisive.

Bayern offered him a generous pay rise to sign a new contract but much to the frustration of chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and manager Uli Hoeness he could not be tempted, and has left on a free transfer.

Ballack joined Bayern in 2002 after his inspirational displays for Bayer Leverkusen got them into the Champions League final and then Germany to the final of the World Cup that year.

He finished on the losing side with Leverkusen against Real Madrid and missed Germany's World Cup defeat by Brazil because of suspension.

He may well enjoy another successful World Cup in 2006, this time as captain of the host nation, but hopes of winning the Champions League with Bayern had receded.

Bayern are by far the richest club in Germany but they have never been able or willing to splash out the kind of sums that buy players like Ronaldinho or Andriy Shevchenko.

"Winning the Champions League in unrealistic," coach Felix Magath said recently.

At Chelsea, Ballack can look forward to playing alongside Frank Lampard and the club can bring in further reinforcements, as they like thanks to the resources of owner Roman Abramovich.

"I really hope I can soon fulfill my great hope of winning the Champions League," he said.

There is just one thing Ballack will ask his manager, and that is to wear the number 13 shirt.

Otherwise, he will hope the language lessons he had in the former Communist East will be enough to let him communicate.

"I still remember a bit of English from school," Ballack wrote in Kicker magazine. "But it was the second foreign language we learned after Russian."

First Published: May 15, 2006 18:40 IST