Michael Ballack enjoyed an eventful spell with Chelsea and is fondly remembered for his time at Stamford Bridge. The German midfielder joined the club on a free transfer in 2006 after rejecting advances from the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and Inter Milan.
A box-to-box midfielder by trade, Ballack was one of the most complete players of his generation, with his all-action ability from the center of the park on show several times for club and country.
The former Germany captain made 167 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea and scored 24 goals as he left the Blues in 2010 with five major honors to his name.
He is held in high regard at Stamford Bridge for his leadership qualities and knack for scoring important goals, with new signing Kai Havertz drawing comparisons with the legendary midfielder due to his playing style and career path.
On that note, here are five of Ballack’s finest moments in a Chelsea shirt.
#5 Chelsea debut in 2006
After his much-anticipated move from Bayern Munich, Ballack made his Premier League debut in August 2006. The German midfielder started alongside Frank Lampard in midfield and showed flashes of his brilliance as the Blues recorded a comfortable 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Lampard and Didier Drogba in the second half.
#4 Matchwinning UCL goal against FC Porto
In the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie against FC Porto, Ballack took center stage for the Blues. The Portuguese side took the lead on the night, but Arjen Robben restored parity with a goal after the interval.
Late in the game, Ballack stepped up and scored a half-volley from close range as Chelsea won the tie 3-2 on aggregate and made it through to the quarterfinals of the competition.
#3 First game as Chelsea captain in December 2007
In a crucial Boxing Day clash against Aston Villa, stand-in captain Frank Lampard was withdrawn prematurely due to an injury. New manager Avram Grant opted to hand Ballack the armband, and it’s safe to say his decision paid off in some style.
The German midfielder produced a sensational showing after coming on, as he scored a free-kick to put Chelsea ahead late in the game. Villa equalized in stoppage time and the game finished 4-4, but Ballack’s late stunner proved to be the turning point of his Chelsea career.
#2 Man of the Match performance against Manchester United
In April 2008, Ballack scored a match-winning brace against fellow title challengers Manchester United. He was named Man of the Match for his contributions as Chelsea drew level with the Red Devils at the top of the table.
The German midfielder’s first goal was a header, but the matchwinning moment arrived late in the game as he calmly dispatched a penalty late in the game.
#1 Winning the Premier League
In his final season with Chelsea, Ballack finally got his hands on the Premier League title. He had won the FA Cup three times and the League Cup once, but English’s football biggest honor eluded him till Carlo Ancelotti’s first season at the club.
After winning the title with the Blues, Ballack left the club on a free transfer and returned to the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen. Until December 2012, he had the highest win percentage of any player in Premier League history to have played over 100 games, as he lost just 10 of his 105 appearances in the competition.
Ballack’s first goal for Chelsea was also one to remember, as he scored a penalty against Werder Bremen to give his side a 2-0 victory. Michael Essien broke the deadlock in the first half, but the Bundesliga side threatened to hit back, with Miroslav Klose causing the Chelsea backline a handful of problems.
However, Ballack eased Chelsea’s fears, as he calmly dispatched a penalty to get his side’s UCL campaign up and running.
Another goal to remember was his strike against Cardiff City in the FA Cup in the 2009-10 season. With the scores tied at 1-1, Ballack latched onto a brilliant pass from Drogba to put the Blues 2-1 up on the night. Daniel Sturridge and Salomon Kalou scored late goals to help Chelsea win the game 4-1, but Ballack’s goal proved to be the turning point of the game for his side.