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On the road, part 5

Oliver Kahn's memories of VfB Stuttgart

At the age of 38 and with two decades as a pro already under his belt, Oliver Kahn is nearing the end of a long and successful sporting career. The three-time World Goalkeeper of the Year has made more than 500 Bundesliga appearances, half of them on opponents' home turf. Before each of his last 17 Bundesliga away trips, presents Kahn's memories of previous visits to the ground in question, as the giant keeper recalls unusual incidents and oddball situations, but also moments of sporting drama and emotion. The fifth visit is to Stuttgart.

Kahn's memories of Stuttgart:

“Games in Stuttgart have always been significant in my career. When I was a youngster with Karlsruhe SC there was a huge regional rivalry between us. The Baden-Württemberg state clash feels a lot like the Munich derby. We were usually the underdogs and Stuttgart the favourites, and I never made off with so much as a point in all my time at KSC. However, we did twice succeed in finishing ahead of VfB in the table. That was as good as winning the title for the KSC faithful.

I arrived at Bayern and found a totally different situation. There was plenty of edge to the game – it’s a showdown between the biggest Bundesliga clubs in the south of the country – but we were always the favourites on those occasions. The results followed the form book – we didn’t lose at their place in my early years with Bayern.

All in all, I’ve only lost three times in Stuttgart with Bayern, and the memories are freshest of last April’s defeat. We were diabolical and lost 2-0, which was extremely flattering actually. Worse than the defeat itself was the fact that we threw away our final chance of a Champions League place, which is why we’re forced to accept the UEFA Cup as our international stage this season. But there was a positive side to this defeat, as without it, we might not have signed the likes of Franck Ribéry, Luca Toni and Miro Klose.

For me personally, the most significant game in Stuttgart was the third-place play-off at the 2006 World Cup. I’d been watching the tournament for four weeks from the bench, but I was honoured to lead the team out one last time as captain that night. I earned my 86th cap, we won 3-1, and we were given the kind of reception by the crowd I’ve seldom experienced before or since. After the match, totally happy with myself and with my conscience clear, I announced my retirement from the national team. It was the biggest and most emotional moment I can remember.“

Next stop: Bielefeld

(Oliver Kahn was unable to play in the away trips to Bochum and Dortmund with injury – Ed.)