Berlin: German captain Michael Ballack is aiming to prove his critics wrong at the 2006 World Cup and show that he is one of the great midfielders in international football. A leader of the German team, Ballack has appeared over 50 times for his nation and playing on home soil will offer him the perfect stage to quash claims he is past his best. "Ballack is a world-class player and everyone in the German team knows it," said National coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Now it's up to the player himself to live-up to expectations and provide a winning spark in 2006. Voted the Bundesliga player of the year in 2005 for the third time, Michael Ballack will be 29 when the finals kick off and a whole nation of supporters will be there to see if history can be made. On Monday, Chelsea unveiled him as their latest signing. Though he joined them on a free transfer for three years, he becomes the highest-paid player in the English Premiership, earning 130,000 pounds per week or 12 million pounds annually. Ballack is now considered by many experts to be one of the world's best goalscoring attacking midfielders. With 30 goals from 63 appearances for the national side, his prolific scoring rate is one of the factors which makes his side strong contenders for the title. Confederations Cup In the Confederations Cup last year, which featured strong sides like Brazil and Argentina, Ballack had another strong showing, with four goals and one assist. Unfortunately that did not prove enough for the German side, as they failed to make the final. But more than his talent, it is his temperament that has always remained suspect, more so in the international arena. Goals like this, one of the 14 he scored in the Bundesliga this season, have been offset by numerous bookings and sendings-off. The most costly one though was the yellow card he received in the semi-final of the last world cup. Its ruled him out of the final against Brazil, and cost his country the biggest prize in football. But his second World Cup, will be a great chance at redemption. Ballack plays a pivotal role in midfield, alongside the hugely talented Bayern medio Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Bayer Leverkusen's Bernd Schneider. Ballack is the fulcrum around which German coach Juergen Klinsmann's strategy of creating chances through corners and free-kicks revolves. Having played in every position in midfield and with the added quality of being a two-footed player like Germany's 1990 hero Andreas Brehme, the skipper shoulders the burden of a nation hoping to claim its fourth World Cup title.
Topics : Football