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FOOTBALL

Ballack attracts 50,000 to farewell match

Germany and Chelsea legend Michael Ballack bowed out of professional football on Wednesday night with a testimonial match. Newly-reappointed Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was among the 50,000-strong crowd.

Ballack attracts 50,000 to farewell match
Photo: DPA

Ballack, 36, who was capped 98 times including the Euro 2008 final defeat by Spain, scored three times in the 4-3 win by his side ‘Ballack’s friends’ against an invitational team playing in Leipzig.

“It is fantastic that after such a long season so many international stars [former Chelsea team-mate Didier Drogba was among them] came to play,” purred Ballack.

“It has really been a super career despite some difficult moments,” added Ballack, who won four Bundesliga titles, one with Kaiserslautern and three with Bayern Munich, and a Premier League title and FA Cup with Chelsea.

Mourinho, who brought Ballack to Chelsea in 2006, was full of praise for the attacking midfielder.

“He was a fantastic player for Chelsea and for Germany,” said Mourinho.

“I wish him from the bottom of my heart all the happiness in the world in his retirement.”

German national coach Joachim Löw was also among the crowd even though he and Ballack had a troubled relationship.

AFP/hc

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TOURISM

Is Leipzig really Germany’s ‘ultimate travel destination’?

The Saxonian city of Leipzig has been named by traveller’s bible Lonely Planet as its “ultimate” travel tip for Germany. Does the Local Germany’s knowledgeable readership agree?

The city centre of Leipzig.
The city centre of Leipzig. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild

Long a cult favourite among Germany fans, the left-wing city of Leipzig appears to now be gaining mainstream recognition after the Lonely Planet crowned it the country’s top travel destination this week.

In a new book titled “Ultimate German Travel Destinations – the top 250”, the travel publisher put Leipzig ahead of picturesque getaways such as Lake Constance and the Zugspitze as its number one destination.

“The hype that some say surrounds the city isn’t hype t all: Leipzig really is hipper than Berlin, and hotter than Munich, especially among millennials,” the guidebook boldly claims.

It goes on to lavish praise on the city of 600,000 inhabitants as “young, exciting, multifaceted – sometimes colourful, sometimes grey – and with a vibrant liveliness.”

“Everyone wants to go to the city where the anti-GDR demonstrations started,” the guidebook continues. “It is the home of Auerbachs Keller (made famous by Goethe and Faust); it’s the city of street art and wave gothic festivals; and its artistic scene at the Baumwollspinnerei is second to none.”

READ ALSO: A love letter to the eastern German city of Leipzig

‘Not cooler than Berlin’

Reaction to the list among the Local’s readership was mixed.

“It is a beautiful city and it’s easy to navigate. I find it hard to say that it’s cooler than Berlin, though. Berlin simply has more,” one reader told us on Facebook. “It’s the kind of place where people find their ‘spot.” I think most people in Leipzig know about most places in Leipzig. It’s a much smaller city. That may just be a more favourable lifestyle for some.”

Praise for Saxony’s biggest city ranged from admiration for the beauty of its architecture (particularly its train station) to the vibrancy of its arts scene.

Others suggested that Leipzig is indeed overhyped and that it can’t compete with natural wonders such as the pristine Königssee in the Bavarian Alps.

https://twitter.com/cr15b/status/1447491633486995458

Lake Constance wins silver

Lake Constance, the country’s largest body of fresh water, came in second on the list.

The authors praised the southern See, which borders Switzerland and Austria, for “the many beautiful spots on its shores: Lindau, Meersburg, Überlingen, Constance and more – often surrounded by lush orchards.”

A regatta on the Bodensee in September 2021. Photo: dpa | Felix Kästle 

Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie concert hall came in third. 

“It’s impossible to imagine the Hanseatic city’s skyline without this glass work of art, which soars into the sky above the harbour like a frozen wave,” the book notes.

Also in the top ten were the Wattenmeer, which is a huge nature reserve on the North Sea coast, Berlin’s museum island, the sandstone hills of Saxony, and Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze in Bavaria.

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