KEIR RADNEDGE in DOHA: Oliver Kahn believes Germany and Bayern Munich successor Manuel Neuer deserves to scale a pinnacle he could not and become World Player of the Year.
Kahn, capped 86 times by Germany between 1994 and 2006 and a serial winner at home and abroad with Bayern, assesses Neuer, at 28 some 17 years his junior, as having “taken goalkeeping to another level.”
Evidence was clear at the World Cup finals in Brazil when Neuer played a crucial role in goal for the eventual winners.
Kahn explained: “He deserves this not only for his contribution to the team and his individual saves but also by the way he interprets the role of goalkeeping. He is as much an athlete as the outfield players. At the World Cup he was very impressive.”
Neuer remains an outsider because of his position, saving or conceding goals and not scoring them in the manner of a Cristiano Ronaldo or Leo Messi. No goalkeeper has ever won the world player award though Kahn did finish as runner-up in 2002.
That was the year he also became the only goalkeeper ever to win the top player award at the World Cup finals, though his error in the final presented the original Ronaldo with Brazil’s opening goal in their 2-0 win.
Kahn said: “In a World Cup year a winning player has a big advantage in the election but a forward most of all. I knoew this from my own career because there is always a reluctance, for some reason, to choose a goalkeeper.
“But maybe there is change now. In women’s football, we saw it last year with the award to Nadine Angerer, another German goalkeeper.”
Germany’s only world player winner thus far was Lothar Matthaus in the early days of the FIFA-backed prize after the 1990 World Cup win.
Kahn, now a TV pundit and motivational speaker, insisted he was no longer haunted by events in the 2002 World Cup Final.
He said: “That was one of the most terrible defeats I ever had, also because I made a mistake which was very small but cost such a lot. But that is the destiny of a goalkeeper and nothing will ever change that.
“But I have come to terms with that. It doesn’t affect me any more. I have new challenges in my life.”
** Doha Goals, at Aspire, Nov 3-5 – #DohaGoals @DohaGoals
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