Michael Ballack (born September 26, 1976 in Görlitz, Saxony) is a German football player. A midfielder, he is the current captain of the German national team, and plays club football for Chelsea F.C. in the Barclays Premier League.
Ballack first gained attention at Bayer Leverkusen where he operated as the central midfielder, taking on both defensive and attacking responsibilities. Later in his career, at FC Bayern Munich, under the guidance of Ottmar Hitzfeld and Felix Magath, Ballack played in a deeper role, where he went forward less often and instead concentrated on protecting the back four and distributing the ball. However, he remained a box-to-box midfielder for the German national team. Ballack is one of the most versatile soccer players in the world: he can easily play defensively as well as offensively.
He is capable with both his left and right foot, as well as in the air. These attributes earned him the German player of the year award on three occasions (2002, 2003, 2005). He is one of Germany’s leading sports icons of recent times. Pelé named Ballack among the world’s greatest 125 living footballers in FIFA’s 2004 FIFA 100
Then, in 2004, the national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann elected Ballack as captain. Following Germany’s third place finish in the World Cup in summer 2006, the new Germany head coach Joachim Löw chose to keep Ballack as his national team captain. Ballack has worn the number 13 shirt for every club that he has played for, as well as the German national team.