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Six-times winner

Evergreen Kahn provides foundation for success

As he meandered across the confetti-strewn turf at the Olympic stadium for the last time, alone with himself and his thoughts, Oliver Kahn was a world away from the moment at twenty minutes to eleven when he was the sole focus of attention, receiving the DFB Cup from Federal President Horst Köhler and hoisting it into the Berlin night sky.

”I’m feeling a pleasant mixture of sadness and joy, because I know it was my last final, but I’m certainly enjoying it all at the moment,” he declared. The 2-1 win over brave Borussia Dortmund handed Kahn a sixth Cup winners’ medal, more than any other player in German football history.

Magnet for celebrations

Luca Toni was the obvious match-winner with both the goals for his side, but Kahn’s contribution to the victory was nevertheless immense. With the score at 1-1, he turned away a Florian Kringe piledriver with the kind of magnificent save only a handful of keepers could even contemplate, hurling himself to the foot of his left-hand upright and turning the awkward bouncing ball round the post.

”Olli gave a great display. He was really strong in a difficult phase when we were under pressure. He was especially commanding in the air, he caught and held crosses which weren’t always easy to deal with. He gave the team an incredibly solid base,” general manager Uli Hoeneß remarked afterwards.

Rummenigge joins chorus of praise

Kahn was the first to receive his team-mates’ wild congratulations at the final whistle. Ottmar Hitzfeld also made a bee-line for the man who has served him for so long in the Bayern goal. The pair spent the entire period before the presentation ceremony deep in intimate conversation. “We each add something to the other,” Hitzfeld publicly mused recently.

Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had already praised Kahn in the highest tones before the match. “We’ve had plenty of outstanding players, Steffan Effenberg, Lothar Matthäus, but for our sporting and public image, Kahn has always been the most important. He personifies this club’s genetic make-up.“ Having Bayern genes means winning trophies, and then going out and winning some more.

First part of treble?

Saturday’s win means Kahn has lost only one of his seven DFB Cup final appearances, a penalty shoot-out defeat to Werder Bremen in 1999 just a few days after the Champions League nightmare against Manchester United in Barcelona. “We’d have won that match with our eyes closed if we hadn’t lost the Champions League final beforehand,” Kahn maintains.

This summer, Kahn will finally and irrevocably hang up his proverbial gloves, “and there comes a point where you’re glad it’s over,“ he reflected. However, he is determined to mount the victory podium two more times: on the last day of the Bundesliga season to receive the championship shield, and on 14 May in Manchester after the UEFA Cup final.