Debut. It is fun to think about it – when Oliver Kahn was born, Klaus Fichtel was already national team regular for 2 years and nearing his greatest international success. Yet, both players appeared in the same season – one ending and the other beginning a career. The newcomer will be much more famous and successful than the veteran, but if debuts are compared… Fichtel became impressive regular from start and national team player the next season, Kahn was hardly noticed.
Born in 1969, Oliver Kahn debuted in 1987-88 season, still 18-years old.
He was new reserve goalkeeper for Karlsruher SC and played his first Bundesliga game on November 27, 1987, against 1.FC Koln. Hardly a debut worth remembering… Karslruher SC lost 0-4. This season Kahn played only one more game and continued in the same way until 1990. In his first 3 years as a professional Kahn played more for the second team of Karlsruher SC than the first – 73 games in the lower West German divisions. True, goalkeepers rarely become stars from their first appearance, usually they need to mature, but not only in his first season Oliver Kahn did not make impression of possible solid player, let alone world-famous star. Then again, he was just 18-years old, debuting at time when players under 20 were considered too fragile for the tough professional football and had to be introduced carefully to the harsh reality. How wise – or consistent – was such attitude is another matter, but a debut with disastrous loss is hardly encouraging any coach to field again ‘born loser’. Eventually, Oliver Kahn would get what he was after, but that required a lot of motivation, courage, and even cynicism. Which made him a true child of his time – but that is in the future. The present was only a brief record of yet another debutante, who may or may not make a career in professional football.