The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kahn still keen on bowing out

Berlin: Germany captain Oliver Kahn, under pressure to continue playing until the 2006 World Cup on home soil, is still considering an early retirement.

“I can imagine that retiring would be a sort of liberation,” the Bayern Munich goalkeeper said as the World Cup runners-up prepared for their Euro 2004 qualifier against the Faroe Islands on Wednesday.

Kahn, who this year became the first goalkeeper to win Fifa’s Golden Ball award for the best player in the World Cup, said last week he was not sure whether he would keep playing for another four years.The final decision will depend on his ability to continue producing top performances, the 33-year-old said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung to be published on Wednesday.

“I keep asking myself whether I can maintain that level,” he said.

Kahn, who has always been obsessed with perfection, has been through hard times since helping Germany reach the World Cup final with a string of crucial saves. The Yokohama final itself turned into a nightmare for him as his blunder led to the first of two Ronaldo goals in a game Brazil won 2-0. In that match he also sustained a hand injury that kept him sidelined for weeks.

The Bayern skipper, who has a reputation for losing his temper, then came under fire for an ugly foul in the Bundesliga last month, after which some observers questioned whether he should remain as the national team’s captain. Kahn reacted to the criticism by offering to give back his armband but never really apologised for grabbing the neck of Leverkusen striker Thomas Brdaric, who said after the game that he had feared for his life.

“That’s Kahn, that’s authentic,” Kahn said when asked about the offence, for which he escaped with a yellow card. “Those are my emotions. I will not let the moralists take anything from me.”

Bayern Munich chairman Franz Beckenbauer said he had noticed that Kahn, who was probably hurt by the criticism more than he let show, was going through a difficult stage, if not a personal crisis. “You can see that Oliver is not totally satisfied,” Beckenbauer told Bavarian television. “I don’t know why because I don’t know his soul, but when you look at him you can tell that something’s not right.”

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