Bierhoff 1996 - the shirt in which the man with the greatest header the game has ever seen enjoyed his finest moment.
As the son of a CEO of a large German energy company, Oliver Bierhoff was afforded a financially comfortable upbringing in the city of Karlsruhe in the south of Germany. It was not all plain sailing for the boy though. His father was, to put it mildly, tough and very much from the old school. An oft repeated story is that when young Oliver once returned home from a training session, his father noted that his kit was spotless. Believing that this meant his son had not been applying himself enough, he proceeded to pour water over the grass in their garden, before waiting for it to freeze over and then making Oliver practice diving headers.
To call a spade a spade, that was probably a pretty mean act of child cruelty. But it is perhaps an indication as to why Bierhoff would, when he turned professional, so readily stick his head in between two onrushing defenders to hammer in a header on goal.
Which leads us nicely on to his greatest moment. It came for his national side in the final of Euro '96. Having been subbed on just shy of the 70th minute and with Germany trailing by one, it took just four minutes for him to score a trademark header from a free kick to equalise and send the game into extra time. It was then that he made history by scoring the first ever golden goal in a major European final. After rising highest to flick a header on to strike partner Jurgen Klinsmann, he received it back and, after a moment of twisting left and right, he wrong footed the Czech keeper with a deflected shot.
It seemed to take him a moment to comprehend what he had just done. As he wheeled away, you can almost see the magnificent reality dawn on him and his teammates. Truly the stuff dreams are made of.
Words by Andy Gallagher
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