Christian Ziege: Dead-ball Specialist

german defender christian ziege

Player Profile: Christian Ziege

Date of Birth: 1/2/1972

Height: 1.88 m

Position: Left wing-back

National Team: Germany

International Caps: 72

International Goals: 9

Club Career

While the defensive side of the game is the bread and butter for any defender, those that also offer a credible attacking option are always in high demand. Christian Ziege was one such player. The attack-minded left-back’s offensive game can be best gauged from the fact that he scored 56 goals during his club career. He also managed to line up for a host of big clubs including Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Tottenham.

A native of Berlin, Christian Ziege transferred to Bayern Munich when he was just 18 and had a fruitful stint with them. His initial days at Bayern were not the best as the club finished tenth in 1991-92. However, the arrival of Franz Beckenbauer turned around Bayern’s fortunes, and Ziege won two Bundesliga titles with the club. 

The German side also won the UEFA Cup in 1996. Throughout this spell, Ziege was an instrumental player for them, starting most of their league games. He even polished the goalscoring side of his game – there were two seasons when his goal tally went into double figures.

When Ziege made public his decision to leave Bayern in 1997, some of Europe’s top clubs were in for him including the likes of Barcelona, Arsenal and Juventus. He also had discussions with Sir Alex Ferguson, who wanted to bring him to Manchester United. However, Ziege’s mind was set on going to Italy, and it was to AC Milan that he made his move. 

He spent only two years at Milan before making a move to England with Middlesbrough. His one season at the club ended in bitterness as Boro were forced to accept an offer from Liverpool despite having better bids, due to a clause in his contract. Both Liverpool and Ziege were later fined for having acted illegally during the transfer saga. 

Ziege’s time at Liverpool was forgettable with the player later saying that he did not know what then-manager Gerard Houllier had against him. Nevertheless, he played a part as Liverpool lifted the FA Cup, League Cup and the UEFA Cup in the 2000-01 season.

The defenders next destination was Tottenham Hotspur for whom he had a fruitful first season, playing 33 times and scoring 7 goals. However, he was now falling victim to frequent injuries and desired a return back to Germany. In 2004, Spurs released him.

His next destination was Borussia Monchengladbach, for whom he played only 14 times. In 2005, after a recurring ankle injury had kept him out of action for almost a year, Ziege announced his retirement from football. 

International Career

Christian Ziege had a long and fruitful career with his national team, wearing the Germany jersey 72 times over eleven years. He made his debut in a friendly against Brazil in 1993 and but did not make it into the Germany squad for the 1994 World Cup. 

His proudest moment in Germany colours came when he was part of the team that won the 1996 European Championships. Ziege played every minute of the tournament for his team, making the left side of defence his own. He also scored the first goal of the tournament for his country against the Czech Republic. 

Ziege also represented his country in the 1998 World Cup, playing a part in every match except the quarterfinal that Germany lost to Croatia. The defender then had a one-year spell out of the team, returning in time for the European Championship qualifiers the next year. One of his most memorable games for Germany came during this period as Ziege scored an unlikely hat-trick against Northern Ireland in the qualifiers. He made the team for Euro 2000, but had a tournament to forget as Germany crashed out in the group stages.

Ziege made an excellent start to the 2002 World Cup, providing two assists in Germany’s opener against Saudi Arabia. He again assisted the winner in the quarterfinal against the USA but was dropped to the bench for the semifinal against South Korea. The defender came on as a substitute in the final as Germany lost to Brazil 2-0. 

He was then called up to Germany’s Euro 2004 squad as a replacement for Christian Rahn but did not play a minute. His last appearance for Germany came in 2004 in a friendly against Malta. 

Where is Christian Ziege now?

After retiring, Ziege immediately took to coaching, taking charge of the youth teams at Gladbach. He had an impressive start to life as their U-17 team manager with his charges doing well. His impressive start prompted Gladbach to appoint him as director of football in 2007. He gave himself yet another role a year later when he dismissed Gladbach manager Jos Luhukay and appointed himself in his place as caretaker boss. That lasted only thirteen days though as Hans Meyer took on that role. The following month, Ziege left Gladbach.

Ziege then signed for Arminia Bielefeld as their manager in 2010 but only lasted just over five months in the role. After being sacked from the club due to their poor start to the season, Ziege started working with the German football federation and subsequently became his country’s U19 and U18 manager. He continued on in that role until 2014. 

He then had unsuccessful stints at SpVgg Unterhaching and Atletico Baleares before taking charge of Thai club Ratchaburi Mitr Phol. However, he left the club after just two days owing to differences with management. In 2019, he was named manager of Austrian side FC Pinzgau where he currently works. Apart from that, he also makes media appearances to comment on his former clubs.  

Did you know?

– Christain Ziege claims that he nearly died when he was playing for Tottenham. After a game, he suffered a dead leg with blood remaining trapped. By the time he reached a hospital, Ziege was unconscious. Doctors told him that had he been late by 30 minutes, they might have had to amputate the leg.

– Ziege owns a part of his current club FC Pinzgau along with several fans.

– As a child, he had a stint playing as a goalkeeper, but soon realised that his best position was further up the pitch.