Remembering Oliver Kahn, the legendary German keeper

German football is known for producing some of the best players in the history of the game, with a lot of them being highly regarded among experts and fans alike. In that regard, there are a lot of goalkeepers from Germany who have cemented their position as some of the finest the sport has produced, with Oliver Kahn being one of the best examples of that production.

German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn
There is much more to Kahn than just his amazing saves or the way he protected his box. It was his charisma, leadership qualities, and winning personality that made him so beloved among Bayern Munich supporters. Furthermore, it was through these elements, along with his natural abilities as a goalkeeper, that he managed to become one of the finest goalkeepers of all time and perhaps the best keeper Bayern Munich ever had, alongside the recent achievements of Manuel Neuer.

The beginning

Oliver Kahn was born in Karlsruhe, West Germany, on June 15, 1969, and quickly began to play joined the town's youth squad when he was six years old. His father had been playing in Karlsruhe during the first half of the sixties and young Oliver found a stable place in that club, which is where he started to make waves, first as a field player and later on as a goalkeeper.

It is also worth pointing out that he started to become the senior team's reserve goalkeeper during the 1987-88 season when he was just 17 years old, making his debut during a painful 4-0 against Koln in November of '87. It would be during the 1989-90 season when he would become a starter for the German side, becoming a lot more prominent and making a name for himself.

Kahn started to become quite known in German football because of his reflexes, command of the box, and also because of the fact he had a lot of strong communication skills with his defense, which is something he was praised for during the vast majority of his career. It was also in Karlsruhe where he won his first German Goalkeeper of the Year award in 1994 at 25 years of age, cementing his place as the most sought-after keeper in the Bundesliga.

His time at Bayern Munich

Oliver Kahn signed for Bayern Munich in the summer of 1994 and would go on to play for the German giants for the remaining 14 years of his career. He would end up retiring at the end of the 2007-08 season, having played a total of 632 matches and winning every trophy available at club level.

It is hard to tell the entirety of Kahn's journey at Bayern but he was such a prominent figure at the club that is hard to separate his career from that club. For example, after Bayern lost the 1999 UEFA Champions League final in the dying minutes against Manchester United, Kahn proved to be pivotal in their victory in 2001 edition against Valencia during penalty kicks, with the German keeper doing several saves.

As an interesting fact, Kahn has gone on record saying that he was very close to joining Manchester United in the early 2000s. The German was very open about it when talking to Sports Bild back in 2007.

"Alex Ferguson is still at odds with me. He was convinced I'd join Manchester United in 2003 or 2004, but building an era at Bayern was more important to me. Looking back, I believe that I should have done it back then. It would have been one last big challenge for me."

On the other hand, most people agree that Kahn's time with the German national team was generally positive, although he had a very specific peak in the 2002 World Cup. He was the star performer in a somewhat underwhelming German side that still reached the final and Kahn won the Golden Ball, cementing his place as the best player in the competition.

However, he was given the award before the final and that was a bad omen since he committed two mistakes against Brazil, cementing Ronaldo's brace and the opposition's victory. It was Kahn's lowest moment as a footballer and something he is also remembered for as well, which is definitely a shame because he had an incredible tournament with Germany.

"I can't find any consolation. I should have caught that ball... but it went away," said a dejected Oliver Kahn after the final in 2002. "Our team has shown that it is a magnificent team, but we have not been able to put the finishing touch that we all wanted. I am sure that one day we are going to do something very big."

His role with the national team would diminish afterwards, being a sub in the 2006 World Cup and retiring soon after, focusing on playing with Bayern. His time in Bavaria was fairly consistent, still being the starter keeper and maintaining a very decent level, even going as far as winning a couple more Bundesliga trophies along the way. The fact he managed to retire with a league and cup double in 2008 says a lot about his winning mentality even at the end of his career.


Oliver Kahn was everything a football fan could ask from a goalkeeper. He was strong, he was commanding, was a leader, and cemented himself as one of the best in his position over the years, with a lot of people claiming he was the best in the early 2000s. The fact Sir Alex Ferguson wanted him for Manchester United during the club's prime years says a lot as well.

The German is a prime example of mentality, dedication, and resilience, overcoming a lot of tough moments in his career and still being one of the best out there. A true legend of the beautiful game.
Nathan Annan is from South Africa and loves to write, and above all about his favorite sport, football. Nathan's interest in football was sparked late but after watching a few matches in his hometown of Johannesburg during the 2010 South Africa World Cup, he was hooked.