One of Germany's leading sports icons and a technically outstanding national captain, Michael Ballack is set to be Chelsea's midfield lethal weapon as they set the Premiership alight for another fantastic, record-breaking season. A goalscoring midfield player par excellence, Ballack began his career with BSG Motor aged just seven, training with the side to eventually make it to the youth team. On signing his first professional contract with Chemnitzer FC, he earned the nickname 'Little Kaiser' and soon moved on to Kaiserslautern, helping them make history as the first newly-promoted team to win the Bundesliga, and steering them to the Champions League quarter finals. A three-time winner of the German player of the year award, Ballack's three seasons at Bayer Leverkusen and four at Bayern Munich cemented his reputation as the attacking midfielder with an eye for a goal. But his journey from East German wunderkid to one of European football's most versatile players and a Stamford Bridge linchpin has been far from easy.
Euan Reedie tells of how Ballack made only fifteen appearances in his first professional season and how Chemnitz were then relegated to the regional third division; a heartbreaking own goal which lead to Bayer Leverkusen losing out on the Bundesliga title; his suspension from the 2002 World Cup Final; losing the 2006 semi-final in the last minutes of extra time; and reveals details of his controversial spell at Bayern Munich. Ballack's visionary passing, goal-scoring prowess and perfect timing make him an effective tackler and one of the most lethal headers in the world. Equally competent with both his left and right feet, he can turn defence into attack, with killer results. With fascinating insight into Ballack's gameplay and philosophy, plus how he combines being the highest paid footballer in the world with a father to his three sons, this is the long-awaited, definitive story of one of Europe's most talented and entertaining footballers.
Euan Reedie has been a sports journalist and football reporter for three years, writing for a variety of leading publications, newspapers and magazines worldwide. Born in Dunfermline, Scotland, in September 1976, Euan studied English Literature and French at St Andrews University. He has lived in Plymouth since 1988.Alan Shearer: Captain Fantastic is his first book.