Thomas Linke at 50: Penalty hero at the San Siro

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Stefan Effenberg could no longer watch. The Bayern captain had turned his back on the events that were dramatically unfolding in front of the crowd at the stadium and millions watching on TV worldwide. After the 90 minutes of normal time plus the additional 30 minutes had failed to deliver a result, the penalty shootout to settle the 2001 Champions League final had itself gone into extra time. Six takers each from FC Bayern and Valencia had already tried their hand in the showdown from the spot. The score was 4-4 - and the tension was almost unbearable, not only for Effenberg.

The Champions League Final 2001 was fiercely contested: John Carew goes up for a header against Thomas Linke

The fina converted penalty in Milan

Then Thomas Linke completed the seemingly endless walk from the halfway line towards the penalty spot. The then 32-year-old confidently strode towards the goal where keeper Santiago Cañizares was already waiting for him.

A short run-up, a shot - Cañizares was sent the wrong way, and could not react at all as the ball fizzed into the bottom right-hand corner. It was the last penalty kick to appear on the scoreboard at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium, as FCB Titan Oliver Kahn parried Mauricio Pellegrino's next attempt and the Bavarians were Champions League winners thanks to a 5-4 shootout victory.

Oliver Kahn's save from Mauricio Pellegrino prompted an outpouring of joy: 25 years after their last European Cup triumph, the Bavarians were once again the champions of Europe.

Linke made 249 competitive appearances for FC Bayern – there’s little doubt that the most important was on that magical evening in Milan on 23 May 2001. The former central defender celebrates his 50th birthday on Boxing Day. congratulates him warmly and once again pays tribute to the nerves of steel that the future general manager displayed in the final at the San Siro.

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