Stefan Effenbergn,born 2 August 1968 is a retired German footballer. A central midfielder, he possessed leadership skills, powerful shooting ability, physical strength, but also a fearsome and controversial character.
In the Bundesliga alone ÔÇô where he represented most notably Bayern Munich, in six seasons in two different spells ÔÇô Effenberg collected 109 yellow cards, an all-time worst at the time of his retirement.
He played for Germany on more than 30 occasions ÔÇô in a career which was cut short after a run-in with the management ÔÇô representing the nation in one World Cup and one European Championship. His nickname is Der Tiger
Born and raised in Niendorf, Hamburg, Effenberg started his professional career with Borussia M├Ânchengladbach, being an undisputed first-choice by age 20. This prompted the interest from Bundesliga giants FC Bayern Munich, and he proceeded to score 19 goals in his first two seasons combined, but the club did not win any silverware whatsoever.
After legendary Lothar Matth├ñus (who also represented M’gladbach) returned to Bayern in 1992, Effenberg moved to ACF Fiorentina, being relegated from Serie A in his first season, on a side that also included Dane Brian Laudrup and Argentine Gabriel Batistuta.
Effenberg then moved back to Borussia, where he amassed a further 118 league matches, with 23 goals, being then re-signed by Bayern. The second spell with the Bavarians was much more successful, as he collected three leagues in a row, and also the 2000ÔÇô01 UEFA Champions League, scoring in regulation period from the penalty spot in a triumph against Valencia CF (1ÔÇô1, penalty shootout win). During the latter tournament, he also won the Most Valuable Player award. After his departure, club fans voted him one of the eleven greatest Bayern players of all time.
After an unassuming spell at VfL Wolfsburg, Effenberg ended his career in Qatar with Al-Arabi Sports Club. Subsequently, he had the odd appearance as a color commentator for German TV.
Effenberg played 35 games for the German national team and scored five goals. His debut came on 5 June 1991, in a Euro 1992 qualifier against Wales, as he played the last 18 minutes of a 0ÔÇô1 away loss. He would be an everpresent fixture during the final stages, even netting in the second group stage match, a 2ÔÇô0 win over Scotland.
However, Effenberg’s international career was marked by controversy and several years in the international wilderness, after the German Football Association refused to consider him for selection following an incident at the 1994 FIFA World Cup. In the group game against South Korea, Effenberg had gestured in an inappropriate manner (“gave the finger”) to fans at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas when he got substituted after a subpar performance; the Germans were then only one goal up, after leading 3ÔÇô0. Because of this incident, coach Berti Vogts decided to drop Effenberg from the German national team for the remainder of the tournament.
Effenberg was briefly re-instated to the national team four years later for a couple of friendly matches in September. These games proved to be his last caps and also Vogts’ final matches in charge of the national team.
Effenberg had a history of attracting attention and ire from fans and other players alike with his behaviour. In 1991, prior to a UEFA Cup game against then-semi-professional Cork City, Effenberg told the press he was sure of a victory, saying Cork City midfielder Dave Barry was “like (his) grandfather”. Barry got his retribution by scoring the opening goal in the team’s 1ÔÇô1 draw at Musgrave Park.
In the late 1990s, Effenberg was rarely out of the tabloids, especially when he left his wife Martina and revealed an affair with Claudia Strunz, who at that time was the wife of former team mate Thomas Strunz. Later, the player published a controversial autobiography, notorious for its blatant contents ÔÇô which included lashing out at some other football professionals, namely club and national side mate Matth├ñus.
In 2001, Effenberg was fined after being found guilty of assaulting a woman in a nightclub. The following year, he implied that unemployed people in Germany were in fact too lazy to look for work, and demanded they took benefit cuts. The interview issued in Playboy.
Strunz and Effenberg were married in 2004, and the player also had three children from his first marriage; the couple then relocated to Florida.