Kahn overwhelmed by Kolkata reception

May 29th, 2008 - 6:38 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata, May 29 (IANS) Retiring German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn was overwhelmed by the reception he and his Bayern Munich teammates received in Kolkata, more so seeing the huge turnout for his farewell game at the Salt Lake stadium Tuesday. A crowd of 120,000 packed the Salt Lake Stadium, the world’s second largest football stadium, to watch Kahn play his last professional match with Bayern Munich against Kolkata’s leading club Mohun Bagan, the oldest Asian club.

“Playing in a setting like this has been staggering,” Kahn said on the club’s website. He went on to add: “Although taking leave of the professional game had been relatively easy. I’m the kind of guy who’ll probably first feel a sense of regret in a few weeks’ time.”

The 39-year-old goalkeeper handed over his gloves to designated successor Michael Rensing during the match which Bayern won 3-0.

It was also the last match for Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfield, who will now coach the Swiss national team at the Euro 2008.

“I’m completely astonished by this world. I’ve been to Asia quite often, but the reception we received in Jakarta and Kolkata was overwhelming,” a disbelieving Hitzfeld commented. “The players were amazed too. They’ve really enjoyed coming here,” the coach said.

Team manager Uli Hoeness, who was a part of Germany’s 1974 World Cup squad, hailed the tour as “a huge success”.

“I never thought this was possible. The passion here is amazing, especially in India,” Hoeness said. “It’s been fantastic and we’ll take back some incredible memories. The team has been very disciplined and played good football in difficult conditions.”

Kahn was given a fitting send-off in Kolkata including a trophy studded with 8,640 diamonds.

“I believe Oliver Kahn will remember this day for a very long time,” Hoeness said.

The club is also looking forward to an early return to Asia, as the Bundesliga giants will be back in the region just two months from now.

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