Talent of the century against his will – Sebastian Deisler turns 40

By Nils Bastek, dpa : Sebastian Deisler turns 40 on Sunday but the man who was hailed as the saviour of German football 20 years ago has long disappeared from the public eye.

Stuttgart (dpa) – Anyone interested to know what Sebastian Deisler is doing these days will have a hard time as even long-time companions are no longer in contact with the man who suffered badly from being hyped as a football super talent two decades ago.

Deisler ended his career in 2007 at age 27, having suffered from depression and multiple severe injuries.

How and where he will celebrate his 40th birthday on Sunday is not known, with his former coach Ottmar Hitzfeld among those who have lost contact with him.

“I have always had my ears open here in Loerrach, and I wrote to him as well,” Hitzfeld said. “I didn’t manage to establish contact. He simply didn’t want to have anything to do with football any more.”

Hitzfeld knew about Deisler early on in the player’s short career as they are both from the south-western German town of Loerrach.

But Deisler has disappeared from the public eye and football scene since a last intervew with Die Zeit magazine and his biography in 2009.

The interview shows an immensely gifted talent who however could not cope with all the side effects of the game.

Deisler was hailed as Germany’s only top talent at the time who was supposed to get German football back on track after a quarter-final exit at the 1998 World Cup and a group stage elimination at Euro 2000.

“I was 19, 20, when the Germans believed I could save their football. On my own,” Deisler told Die Zeit.

Deisler made his Bundesliga debut at age 18 for Borussia Moenchengladbach in 1998 and moved on to Hertha Berlin the following year, with a national team debut following in 2000.

The hype in Berlin around him was huge but the adoration of the fans turned into hatred when news broke that he would join Bayern Munich for a big fee in 2002.

“That’s what ruined football for me. That was the shot in the back,” Deisler said later.

He was twice treated for depression in a Munich clinic end eventually ended his career in January 2007, citing lack of confidence in his often operated right knee.

“He is one of the best players Germany has ever had. That’s why it is so incomprehensible. But we have lost this fight,” then Munich general manager Uli Hoeness said at the time.

Deisler played just 62 top flight matches for Bayern during his more than four years there, and despite 36 caps between 2000 and 2006 missed the World Cups 2002 and 2006 owing to his injury problems.

He quit without even bidding farewell to his Bayern team-mates, and never answered their messages because he simply wanted to get away from it all.

“I couldn’t go on,” he told Die Zeit.

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