Moller has kept his magical skills as the years roll by

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 May, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 May, 2004, 12:00am

There are few footballers who can claim that they have won everything and even fewer players who can say they won it at the highest level.

Yet Andreas Moller can boast a glittering career that has spanned 18 years, winning 85 caps, 30 goals for Germany, a World Cup and European Championship medal, plus European and World Club cups. You name it, Moller has won it.

Moller's collection of trophies and medals must be bursting in his mantlepiece and any world class footballer would be envious of the exploits of a career that is really unmatched by today's overpaid football stars. He was one of the most successful players of his generation.

Moller feels blessed that his dizzying success was the result of many years of hard work, some good fortune and great players around him in a relatively injury-free career.

The 36-year-old retired German midfield star, who is in town to lead the Lorenz All-Stars at this weekend's Philips Lighting International Soccer 7s, remains modest of his phenomenal success.

'I know I've had a lot of success but life continues. I am very proud of my achievements. I don't know what is my next move, perhaps I will go into coaching,' said Moller.

'Maybe I will coach children or stay in Germany as a technical director. Last year, I had many offers to continue playing,' said the German who finished his playing career with Eintracht Frankfurt in March.

'I had chances to play in Qatar and even in China as well. I was given an offer to play in Shenzhen, but you know, it is very difficult for me to say okay to that. It is hard to play soccer in a foreign country. I thought it was better to break from soccer.

'Maybe my legs were okay to play for another year, but my head is tired. I am mentally tired,' he said.

At club level, the midfield maestro made 418 appearances in the Bundesliga for Eintracht Frankfurt, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04, scoring 110 goals.

He also played 56 games for Italian giants Juventus, scoring 19 goals and helping the club win the 1993 UEFA Cup.

Moller, whose lighting-quick reflexes, silky play-making skills and 'must-win' attitude embodied in his unwavering commitment to the game, could pass and shoot like no other German player before him.

But although Moller has hammered home many goals with his typically powerful finishing, the masterful tactician is probably best remembered for converting the penalty that sealed England's fate in the semi-finals of the Euro 96 tournament.

Moller sent David Seaman the wrong way after Gareth Southgate's miss in the fateful Euro match that is still agonisingly etched in the mind of every England supporter. Who could forget Moller's antics as Germany sealed their place in the final that saw them eventually lift the trophy after defeating the Czech Republic?

Shorts yanked up, chin in the air, marching with arms aloft at Wembley Stadium to soak up the acclaim of one nation while simultaneously rubbing salt into the wounds of another. After Moller's penalty-kick sent England packing, outside of Wembley Stadium, trouble brewed. Thousands of organised gangs of hooligans, fuelled by alcohol and racism, clashed with police at Trafalgar Square. England fans were incensed.

But Moller took another view of that famous penalty, saying it was one of the defining moments of his career despite what the English might say.

'Yes, I remember that semi-final against England. It was a very proud moment for me in this match because it was the first time I led Germany as captain [Jurgen Klinsmann was injured]. I was very proud to win this match at Wembley - for all football fans, it was a good game. It was not easy to win that match. I scored the last penalty and 70,000 fans were left crying, but that is life,' he said.

Five years later, Seaman faced Moller again and despite his advancing years at 34, the German midfielder was considered an enormous threat to Arsenal's quest in the Champions League. The key at the time for Arsenal was to stifle the creative flow of a midfielder 'who can still play a bit'.

Arsene Wenger said of Moller at the time: 'How old? He still looked very good. The problem from Moller is that he's always had a lot of physical qualities and if you're as quick as he once was, then even if you lose a bit, you only go from very fast to fast. He still has remarkable technique too, while his experience means he knows the right position to go on the field.'

Arsenal claimed three points in that Champions League clash, winning 3-2 but Moller showed that he had not lost his skills by creating one of Schalke's goals. Even at 34, he had made his presence strongly felt.

A year earlier, Moller made a daring move from Dortmund - the club which he helped win the 1997 Champions League - to Schalke 04.

Moller was not at first accepted by supporters of the club. Only after he began scoring goals with regularity while reinventing his game did the hate mail turn into love letters.