When it comes to the ultimate new praise, Kahn has to overcome himself a little
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Manuel Neuer brings the opponent to despair in the Champions League final. The 34-year-old from FC Bayern is the best goalkeeper in the world. Oliver Kahn sees it that way too. But he hesitates when asked.
ALeaning on crutches, Thomas Tuchel hobbled with his broken foot long after the winning ceremony, where, after a brief exchange with Uli Hoeneß, there was a longer tête-à-tête with Manuel Neuer. With his arm around the Bayern captain’s neck, the uncrowned coach of Paris Saint-Germain could have told the Bayern captain, who triumphed 1-0 in the Champions League final, what he also told reporters in a confidential conversation .
“Manuel Neuer is definitely in top form at the wrong time, and has been for weeks,” said Tuchel. It was clear to him who, besides goalscorer Kingsley Coman, was primarily responsible for PSG leaving the Estádio da Luz as a loser. “Manuel’s quality was incredible again today. He took the goalkeeping game to a new level, that’s for sure. He plays at his very highest level – unfortunately, for us. “
Tuchel even got himself a little joke, the 46-year-old spoke of “a little distortion of competition”. Neuer was once again a great support in a grand finale. Like in the Munich premier class triumph in 2013 in Wembley against Borussia Dortmund or in the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil against Argentina.
“We were lucky and Manuel Neuer”
“I made a good game, a great game,” said Neuer himself. Was it his best ever? “No, I don’t think so,” said the 34-year-old. “You need the chance to score. We had them, you just have to put them in, ”moaned Tuchel.
But even superstar Neymar didn’t succeed against Neuer. Neuer’s most spectacular rescue act was the first against the Brazilian when he parried superbly with his leg (18th minute). Neymar’s colleagues Angel di María, Kylian Mbappé and above all Marquinhos (70th), who was free to shoot in front of Neuer, also despaired of the Munich goalkeeper’s incredible reflexes.
“We were also a little lucky today – and Manuel Neuer between the posts,” said Thomas Müller. Bayern coach Hansi Flick was not a bit surprised: “We have Manuel, the world’s best goalkeeper.”
Also board member Oliver Kahn – former titan in the Bayern goal, who saved three shots on penalties in the first Munich premier class triumph against FC Valencia in 2001 – ennobled Neuer. At Sky, Kahn initially hesitated when asked whether Neuer was the best German goalkeeper of all time, but then he made up his mind: “We in Germany always had really great goalkeepers, but he is certainly one of the really, really great.” Then added Kahn: “If you look at what he has won – he became world champion, won the Champions League twice and always helped the team – yes, you can say.”
Because of the corona pandemic, the European championship had to be postponed to 2021 this summer. Neuer used the Champions League tournament in Portugal to demonstrate his inviolability. In the quarter-finals he had already outdone his DFB rival Marc-André ter Stegen in an 8-2 win against FC Barcelona. The young, ambitious Alexander Nübel, who came from Schalke for free and wants to replace Neuer at some point as number one in the Bayern goal, will have to be very patient.
Neuer’s contract runs until 2023
After his long foot injury before the 2018 World Cup, Neuer is a goalkeeper giant again. And after lengthy negotiations, he has extended his contract in Munich again until 2023.
Then he’ll be 37. So what, joked Kahn in the days of Lisbon. “When a goalkeeper gets older, he doesn’t get worse. Manuel Neuer is now 34 – and Gianluigi Buffon will soon be 50. He can still play at a high level for many years to come. “