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Throwback Thursday: The Best Keeper Of All Time?

This is a new series where we pick a player from years past on Thursday and write about him/her. This week: Oliver Kahn.

Built like a linebacker and nicknamed “Der Titan,” Oliver Kahn was an intimidating presence in the goal. Smaller forwards would wilt like dead flowers when Kahn came charging out of the goal at them, not that coming out of the goal was his only skill.

Kahn is one of the few goalkeepers who have been able to get to every part of the net, including all four corners, to stop a shot. More than once, perfectly-struck balls to the upper 90 were turned away by Kahn, who would explode off the ground, like a shark exploding out of the water to snag a seal, and bat the shot away with his hand.

Very few keepers have ever had the combination of explosive athleticism and flexibility and coordination and special awareness to do this.

Kahn was named the best player (Golden Ball) of the 2002 World Cup, where his German side lost to a stacked Brazil team that featured Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho at their collective apexes, as well as an up-and-coming youngster named Kaka. Germany also managed a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup with Kahn in goal.

Kahn also helped his club, Bayern Munich (where he played from 1994-2008), to the 2001 Champion’s League title, with Kahn saving three penalties in the shootout against Valencia in the final. Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga eight times while Kahn was there.

He was named the man of the match for his efforts. Kahn was the German player of the year in 2000 and 2001. He was the runner-up for FIFA World Player of the Year in 2002. He was named by Pele to the FIFA 100. He was named the world’s best goalkeeper in 1999, 2001 and 2002 by the International Federation for Football History and Statistics.

Kahn made his first-team debut in 1987 for Karlsruher SC at the age of 18. Kahn retired in 2008 after more than 20 years between the posts as a professional.

He also starred in the greatest soccer highlight film of all time, and if you think this whole article was just an excuse to show you the video, you know me too well:

Follow Sam Klomhaus on Twitter @SamKlomhaus

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