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Where Philipp Lahm Ranks Alongside Bayern Munich's 20 Greatest Players

Stefan BienkowskiFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2014

Where Philipp Lahm Ranks Alongside Bayern Munich's 20 Greatest Players

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    As Bayern continue their current search for further glory under new coach Pep Guardiola, the club can quite comfortably acknowledge where it is in European football at the moment and reflect upon the significance of all it has achieved in comparison to former great sides who have played for this Munich club. 

    In particular we can now look at Philipp Lahm, the 30-year-old captain of this record-breaking side and to the five Bundesliga titles, five DFB Pokal Cups and, of course, the one Champions League that he now holds to his name and comparing him specifically to former Bayern greats. 

    Has the world's most prominent full-back achieved enough within his nine seasons at Bayern to be compared to some of the best the club has ever produced? Let's take a look. 

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    Gero Breloer/Associated Press

    20. Lucio

    As the famous Brazilian centre defender that Dante undoubtedly took his style from, Lucio comes into this list as the solid vice-captain of what feels like only yesterday's great Bayern side. With three consecutive Bundesliga titles under his watch, this defender is easily one of the club's best ever.

     

    19. Ze Roberto

    In a specific four-year stint, the Brazilian box-to-box midfielder Ze Roberto was quite simply one of the best players in the world. With 10 separate trophies with Bayern over his two stints at the club—first as a prevailing attacking midfielder and then as a defensive partner to Mark Van Bommel—we add another samba star to our list.

     

    18. Bixente Lizarazu

    A player who will undoubtedly go down as the last great left-back before David Alaba conquered all before him, Bixente Lizarazu comes in at 18th as one of the best full-backs ever to play for the Bavarian club. In his time at the club, he too won 10 domestic trophies as well as the 2001 Champions League.

     

    17Giovane Elber

    Within six years at Bayern Munich, Giovane Elber had scored 138 goals, won four Bundesliga titles, three DFB Pokal Cups and one Champions League trophy in 2001. To put it quite simply, he was one of Bayern's greatest-ever modern strikers.

     

    16. Franck Ribery

    Franck Ribery is a forward who will undoubtedly finisher higher on this list before he chooses to hang up his boots, but at this point he still must contend with sitting outside the top 15. A modern star who has only to look up to the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo when compared to any other player across the world, Ribery is a Bayern great in the making.

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    Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

    15. Michael Ballack 

    Michael Ballack may have never had the best of luck when it came to important finals for either Germany or Bayern, yet the captain of each side is fondly remembered by both. A consistently excellent, genuine world class player who undoubtedly spent his best years in Bavaria.

     

    14. Bastian Schweinsteiger

    At 29 years old, Bastian Schweinsteiger still has another three or four years in him before we shut the book on his achievements at Bayern. Yet what his side accomplished last season has already propelled him into the top 15 best players to have ever played for the club just as he reaches the peak of his career.

     

    13. Klaus Augenthaler

    Although Klaus Augenthaler never won as many European Cups as "Der Kaiser," he will always be remembered as the man who replaced him and actually went on to win more Bundesliga titles with the club. A central defender whom history doesn't remember as fondly as fans of Bayern clearly do.

     

    12. Mehmet Scholl

    A player who is fondly remembered as one of Bayern's greatest-ever playmakers in modern history as he spent 15 consecutive seasons working his magic throughout the Bundesliga's top side. In that period the midfielder incredibly averaged one trophy per season, such was his quality and that of his colleagues at the time.

     

    11. Philipp Lahm

    Although Lahm fails to make it into our top 10, he is already well regarded as one of the greatest-ever captains to have played for Bayern and the German national team. His methods and style of play have completely revolutionised what it means to be an intelligent player, whether that be from right-back or the base of midfield. A great player with the intelligence to rival any.

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    JAN PITMAN/Associated Press

    10. Sepp Maier

    Legendary goalkeeper Sepp Maier kicks off the top 10 with an unquestionable loyalty to Bayern that saw him play more than 500 games for the club during a period in which he won four Bundesliga titles, three DFB Pokal Cups as well as three European Cups. One of the greatest-ever keepers to grace the game. 

     

    9. Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck

    Always known as the "other guy" beside Franz Beckenbauer throughout the club's golden era, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck was the second-best central defender to have ever played for the Munich side. With Bayern, he won 12 trophies in just 10 years between 1972 and 1982.

     

    8. Uli Hoeness

    Although the name Uli Hoeness may not be as well regarded amongst the football community as it once was, the former German and Bayern forward will always be renowned as a Bavarian great. On the pitch and off it, no player has ever meant as much to this club as Hoeness.

     

    7. Stefan Effenberg

    "Der Tiger" will always be remembered for his personality on an off the pitch for Bayern, but it was the penalty he scored in the 2001 Champions League final that he and fans will look back on just as fondly. A true great who brought Bayern back to the top of European football after 25 years.

     

    6. Paul Breitner

    Paul Breitner just misses out on the top five Bayern players ever but will forever be known as the club's greatest-ever full-back. In just four years between 1970 and 1974, he won all there was to win, including the European cup with his club and the World Cup with West Germany. A true great of the game. 

5. Lothar Matthaus

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    Oleg Popov/Associated Press

    Lothar Matthaus is the only German player to have ever won the modern FIFA World Player of the year award.

    What this tells us, aside from the stupidity of individual awards in a team sport, is that by some margins the attacking midfielder was quite simply the best-ever German outfield player to have played the sport in the past 20 years. 

    The first thing that comes to people's minds when they think of Matthaus isn't his ability or a specific moment in his career but his sheer longevity, having played for Bayern in 302 games as well as for his national team in no less than five World Cups. 

    Although he never did manage to win the Champions League at Bayern, failing in that famous final against Manchester United in 1999, Matthaus will always be remembered as a player synonymous with the club's emerging fortunes through the 1990s. 

4. Oliver Kahn

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    Philipp Guelland/Associated Press

    Our next player on the countdown is none other than Oliver Kahn. The famous goalkeeper stood between Bayern's goals and their many opponents for 429 games, with some incredibly successful consequences. 

    Throughout his career Kahn went on to win eight Bundesliga titles, six DFB Pokal cups, one UEFA Cup and one Champions League trophy, yet the German international will forever be remembered as one of the first modern role models for goalkeepers across the world. 

    Like Peter Schmeichel at Manchester United, Kahn's physicality and sheer size led to his reputation often proceeding him throughout his time at Bayern to the point where it was all but impossible to compare a 'keeper in the modern game to anyone without eventually lining them up to the yardstick of all shot-stoppers—this Bayern legend. 

3. Gerd Muller

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    Modern football fans will know Gerd Muller's name as the current road block that players such as Messi and Ronaldo have to overcome on their path to goalscoring stardom.

    Yet for Bayern, this striker will forever be remembered as the greatest-ever in the sport's history. 

    In 453 games, Muller scored an incredible 398 goals for the Munich club as they marched to three European Cups, one Intercontinental Cup and a solitary European Cup Winners' Cup with the prolific striker up front. 

    "Der Bomber," as he is famously known, also scored 68 goals in just 62 games for West Germany as he won the European Championships in 1972 and the famous World Cup in 1974.

    To put it quite simply, his goals made Bayern and Germany the power within the sport that they are now. A rock-solid foundation upon which the club still rely today. 

2. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

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    Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

    Bayern may have had its rock-solid goalkeepers, its hardened defenders, its flashy midfielders and its goalscoring strikers, yet Karl-Heinz Rummenigge comes into this list in second place having been none of those. 

    For he was a forward who simply won games with the skill and technique many would have likened to another player who was making waves back then: Diego Maradona. A truly world-class player who went on to incredible success with Bayern. 

    In fact, in his 10 years at the Munich side, Rummenigge won eight trophies including two Bundesliga titles and two European Cups, as well as European Footballer of the Year twice, World Footballer of the Year once and Bundesliga top goalscorer for the season on three separate occasions. 

    The great man now sits in the same seat of the executive box at Bayern's Allianz Arena as the club's current chief executive. He looks over all Bayern as a constant reminder of the excellence expected of each player at this club. 

1. Franz Beckenbauer

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    Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press

    At No. 1 we have none other than Franz "Der Kaiser" Beckenbauer: Bayern's greatest-ever defender, player and unquestionably one of the best to have ever played the beautiful game. 

    Whilst playing for the German side, Beckenbauer won three consecutive European Cups—still the only player to do so as captain—and four Bundesliga titles, as well as the World Cup in 1974 with West Germany. 

    In the position that came to be known as his own, Beckenbauer won all before him as the greatest0ever libero to have graced the game and stands tall as the perfect example of this mighty club. 

    Even today, 40 years after his glory days at Bayern, people still look to young centre-backs who show a touch of technique or skill and instantly bring up Beckenbauer's name. The trophies will forever be remembered, but it was his reputation and the legacy he has left on this club that will forever make him its greatest-ever player. 

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