Matthias Sammer’s father, Klaus Sammer was a mainstay in Dynamo Dresden’s midfield for over a decade, in the process making 17 appearances for East Germany prior to Germany’s unification. It was only plausible that the young Sammer would follow his father’s lead in the beautiful game.
Born in 1967, Sammer made his first team debut for Dynamo Dresden in 1985 as a forward. Lacking physicality required of a front man, his club manager Ede Geyer moved the 19-year-old into midfield for the 1986/87 season. Moving down the pitch sparked the skinny teenager’s rise to football greatness.
In 1990 he got transferred to Vfb Stuttgart, where he won his first league title in 1992. That same summer he moved to Italy’s Inter Milan but an unsatisfactory 11 match later, he was back in the Bundesliga plying his trade for Borussia Dortmund. It was in Dortmund where he finally realized his full potential.
At Borussia Dortmund, Ottmar Hitzfeld, one of the greatest managers in football history converted Sammer into a sweeper. And success soon followed. He found himself at ease in his new position from where he could dictate play and went on to become one of the best in that position. His performances often invited comparisons with the pioneers of sweeper play style, Franz Beckenbauer, Gaetano Scirea and Franco Baresi.
He led Borussia Dortmund to successive Bundesliga titles in 1995 and 1996. On a personal level he won Germany’s Player of the Year award in both those years, which reinforced his position as Bundesliga’s best defender at the time.
His performances didn’t go unnoticed beyond Germany as he was crowned Europe’s best player and received the Ballon d’Or in 1996, thus becoming only the second player from his country after Franz Beckenbauer to win the prestigious award.
Sammer’s another moment of crowning glory came in 1997 when he led Borussia Dortmund to their first and so far only Champions League triumph. In the final played in Munich, two goals from Karl-Heinz Riedle, and one by Lars Ricken confined Juventus to a 3-1 loss.
Renowned for his bravery on the field of play, an unfortunate knee injury signaled the end of his career at only 32 years of age.
Sammer’s insatiable appetite for the game saw him return as a coach the very next year where he worked as an assistant to Udo Lattek at Westfallenstadion. Promoted to first team manager status in the summer of 2000, he guided Borussia Dortmund to another league title in 2002. Thus, at just 34 years of age he became the youngest manager to win the Bundesliga.
Even though Sammer now works for the Yellow and Blacks’ fierce rivals Bayern Munich, his place in Borussia Dortmund’s history is special.