He collected no less than three trophies on Tuesday night at the FIFA World Player Gala in Madrid. Along with the adidas Golden Ball and Yashin Award won at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™, the goalkeeper was voted runner-up to Ronaldo as Player of the Year. The FC Bayern and Germany captain, Oliver Kahn, chats to FIFA.com about his outstanding year.
FIFA.com: How proud are you to have been nominated by
coaches as one of the top three FIFA players of the year, along
with Ronaldo and Zidane?
Oliver Kahn: It's a great honour and truly extraordinary. It's amazing just to be nominated as it's two or three times as hard for a goalkeeper to be selected. And it confirms that I've been doing the right things in the last few years.
Why is it so difficult for goalkeepers to get such
The world is black and white for a goalkeeper. Sometimes you only have one shot to deal with, but it goes in. So you look stupid. On another day there are three or four on target, and everyone says you're world class. There's no sense of proportion. Therefore keepers not only have to be ambitious and talented, but need an unshakeable determination to keep bouncing back and carry on despite all the setbacks.
How important is the mental side of the game?
Every individual player has his own recipe for achieving peak mental condition when he has to. In my case, I concentrate hardest when the pressure is at its most extreme. But in the final there was a single instance when it wasn't enough. It can happen ? it's only human.
What are your feelings looking back on this season? Are you
satisfied with your performances?
The World Cup in Japan and Korea Republic was obviously outstanding. A stunning experience. Reaching the final was in itself a fantastic achievement. It crowned a really great year for me. And I'll never forget the extraordinary personal pressure. I only had an extremely short time to recover from the huge physical and mental effort of the World Cup before we went back to the Bundesliga and the Champions League. Nobody really thought about that, everyone expects you to be at your best at all times. Your every move comes under scrutiny both on and off the field. They're just waiting for you to make a mistake so they can lay in to you, but you have to learn to live with the pressure.
How would you describe Ronaldo and Zidane?
They're both wonderful players, who have proved their class time and time again and have the ability to turn a game on their own. So it's even more of a personal honour to be shortlisted for the world footballer of the year trophy alongside players like these.
Who do you think would have deserved to share the honour of
being nominated FIFA Player of the Year?
There are at least half a dozen players who could easily have made it onto the final shortlist: Raul, Figo, Henry, maybe Michael Owen, it's difficult to say. If I was to mention a German player, Michael Ballack comes to mind. He was mighty impressive both on the international stage and at home.
Which of your other team-mates do you consider now as top
class international players and potential leaders for
It was the first major tournament for many of the players. We'll have to wait and see what progress they make in the next few years. Every one of them had a great tournament in his own way, but it's still too early to make any predictions for 2006. Anything could still happen.
When Rudi Voeller admitted before the FIFA World Cup that
"reaching the quarter-finals would be an achievement",
did you agree with him?
A number of key players pulled out before the tournament, so very few people thought we would achieve much. But within the squad we knew if every single one of us performed to the peak of his abilities, making the quarter-finals would just be a stepping-stone on the way.
What was the general feeling among the players of the
national team when arriving in Asia?
I had the feeling we could achieve a lot at the World Cup. No one believed in us, which is actually why I was convinced we'd succeed. And I said so before the World Cup too.
Which opponent surprised you the most?
Actually there were two: the USA showed they have come an awful long way in the last few years. Korea Republic are the other team. It was almost unbelievable how they kept their highly physical game going throughout the tournament.
What was it like to play them in Seoul's stadium in the
semi-final of a FIFA World Cup™. Did the crowd impress
It was an unbelievable experience. There was a brilliant atmosphere in that superb stadium. But the most amazing thing was the mood in the city beforehand. Literally millions of people riding a wave of euphoria - I've never experienced anything like it.
Would you agree that the FIFA World Cup is the
"greatest football stage"?
Absolutely. It features the world's best players, every single one of them desperate to get his hands on the trophy. And the whole world is watching. Can you think of a better and simpler way of bringing together people from different nations and cultures? I don't think so?
Do you intend to play in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™
Could this be a personal challenge?
Nothing can compare with playing in a World Cup in your own country. It's something every footballer dreams of, even as a small boy. The way things stand I'll hang up my boots after 2006. But as I said before, anything can happen in the meantime.