Remembering Germany's closest equivalent to an under-appreciated Heskey

Team 33's Raf Diallo looks back at Carsten Jancker on The World Is A Ball

Carsten Janker, Germany, Gary Breen, Ireland,

Carsten Jancker of Germany and Gary Breen of Ireland ©INPHO/Andrew Paton

Emile Heskey didn't score a whole heap of international goals for England.

But arguably the most famous of his seven goals at international level was in the famous 5-1 win over Germany in 2002 World Cup qualifier.

Unfairly maligned due to his goalscoring record - which was not the most important aspect of his attributes - Heskey was appreciated by managers and team-mates for other reasons.

Michael Owen, who notched a hat-trick in Munich that night benefited greatly from playing up front with Heskey for Liverpool and England, due to the latter's unselfish work and physicality.

Heskey cropped up on this week's Team 33 as we looked at players who were or have become maligned due to perceptions about their ability after a war of words broke out between two ex-England internationals of the 1990s in Matt Le Tissier and Carlton Palmer.

Steven Gerrard scored the other English goal, but it is easy to forget that they actually fell behind to the Germans that night on September 1st 2001.

The man who scored that goal past David Seaman on six minutes was Carsten Jancker, a player who could be loosely likened to a German version of Heskey except for the fact that the Leicester native had a far more fruitful professional career and was stronger in the air.

An enormous player standing at 6 foot 4, the then-Bayern Munich target man would be out of place now in a Germany side which often features False 9s in the Mario Gotze mould up front.

But he was making the Germany side at a time when they were enjoying - or more accurately, enduring - one of their lowest ebbs.

That period between 1998 and the early 2000s coincided with Jancker's peak years as he developed a fruitful strike partnership at Bayern Munich with former Brazilian forward Giovanni Elber.

Thus he featured on that famous night in '99 against Manchester United, memorably hitting the crossbar acrobatically and also winning the early free kick which gave Bayern the Nou Camp lead.

His overall goal tally for Bayern between 1997 and his ill-fated 2002 transfer to Udinese was mostly respectable but far from prolific. However, it was enough for him to make it onto the German national team picture at a time when they weren't exactly blessed with great options.

Ten international goals would follow, with seven coming in friendlies, but 2002 would become a transition point.

Called up to a World Cup squad which would eventually make it all the way to the final, that tournament's all-time record goalscorer Miroslav Klose had just arrived on the international scene just over a year earlier and announced himself to the world with a hat-trick in an 8-0 thumping of a distinctly poor Saudi Arabia side.

Jancker also scored that night in Japan and remained a starter for the remainder of the group stage, including the 1-1 draw with Ireland.

But once the knockout stage began, he never made a single appearance from the last-16 game to the final defeat to a Ronaldo-inspired Brazil.

Although he scored two more international goals in the months after the World Cup, his Germany career was halted that year.

Yet even at the height of his 33-cap international career at club level, he was not appreciated. Indeed, in the build-up to the England match in 2001, The Telegraph's Matt Lawton spoke to the player and reported that Bayern had spent the previous summer trying to cast him off to the highest bidder. 

That piece by Lawton also includes an interesting story about the time Luton Town turned their noses up at him at the dawn of the 1990s when their manager David Pleat felt he wasn't worth signing after the striker played in one reserve match for them. 

But in many ways, he did get the most out of his career by winning a Champions League title in 2001, playing and scoring for his country at a World Cup and netting against Pleat's nation. 

Could be worse, couldn't it? 

You can read more from Raf's The World Is A Ball series every Wednesday on To find past articles, head to the Team 33 show page.