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Is Michael Ballack Soccer’s Buffalo Bills?

You would think that Michael Ballack has it all. He has fame and fortune, is captain of his country and was selected in FIFA’s 100 Greatest Living Players. But a closer look at his CV bears a very strong resemblance to that of the Buffalo Bills. Maybe Ballack’s nickname should be the nearly man.

2008 was a bad year for Ballack. His Chelsea team lost in the Carling Cup final to Tottenham Hotspur, was beaten by Manchester United to the Barclays Premier League title and in the Champions League final. And to top it all off, his Germany side was beaten by Spain in the European Championship final. What a year.

But remarkably, it was not Ballack’s worst year. That came in 2002 when Ballack played for Bayer Leverkusen. In that year Bayer threw away a five point lead at the top of the table over the last three games of the season to finish second behind Borussia Dortmund, lost the Champions League final 2-1 to Real Madrid, and lost the German Cup final 4-2 to Schalke 04. These three runners up finishes were dubbed ‘Treble Horror’ in Germany.

To top it off Germany lost in the world cup final to Brazil in 2002 to add another runners up medal the Ballack collection. Add in at least three domestic cup final runners-up medals while playing in Germany, plus a Premier League runners up medal from 2007 ands a third place World Cup medal from 2006 and you get at least 13 runners-up medals.

By my calculations Ballack has 8 winners medals in his collection for a total of 21 major medals. Has any athlete every had as many runners-up medals as Michael Ballack?

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