It is a sad day for German football and the MLS as Torsten Frings has decided to hang up his boots after injuries slowed him down to the point of retirement.
Frings mainly made his mark in the Bundesliga for Werder Bremen, playing for the club from 1997-2002 during his breakout into the national scene and again from 2005-11 amassing 366 caps for the club and scoring 36 goals, becoming one of the clubs most accomplished players. Frings also made club stops at Borussia Dortmund and a one year stint at Bayern in between his days at Bremen. Frings won the league/Pokal double at Bayern, but left after just one year after being played out of position by then manager Felix Magath despite winning the only Bundesliga title of his career at the club.
Where Frings made his mark on German football however was on the international stage, making up a midfield with Michael Ballack during the 00’s for a German squad that was so close to two World Cup titles and an European Championship, taking two runner up finishes and a third place finish in World Cup 2006 in Germany.
Frings run in World Cup 2006 ended in controversy as after their shootout victory against Argentina in the quarterfinals Frings was suspended for his role in a post match dust up, missing the side’s semifinal clash with Italy, where they lost in extra time and ended their hopes of lifting the World Cup on home soil.
Despite the turmoil in the knockout stage, Frings did score a goal at WC 2006 in a 4-2 win over Costa Rica and earned himself 79 caps during his international career, playing in two Euro Cups and two World Cups for the DFB. An all around defensive midfielder, Frings hard tackling and powerful shot made him a versatile if not underrated player during his heydey in which he played for three of the Bundesliga’s most storied clubs of the 00’s at different points.
Injuries slowed Frings down during his final days at Bremen before leaving to the MLS as a Designated Player for Toronto FC where he was the club’s captain. Leading the Reds to a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal victory over David Beckham’s Los Angeles Galaxy before succumbing to injury yet again on September 5, 2012 signalling the end of his playing career.
Frings won just one Bundesliga title, the aforementioned title with Bayern, but he did win two Pokal titles with the club that made him famous in Bremen, winning the 98-99 and 08-09 titles. Frings also was a part of the Bremen team that were runners up in the 2008 UEFA Cup/Europa League and last came closest to the league title during the 2007-08 season where Bremen ten points behind Bayern who were led by Luca Toni and Franck Ribery. One would have to assume that if Bremen had Miroslav Klose in that campaign they might have been able to contend for a title in Werder for Frings.
But that will be the plot of Frings career when it is looked back on. A very good player, World Class in his prime, but not a legend in the way his contemporary Michael Ballack was. A leader and winner, but not a champion. If things went the way of the clubs Frings played for more often, his career accolades would be a lot more sparkling than they are today. It is unfair, but Frings never won an international trophy, nor did he win the Champions League. He has a solid list of accolades so it might not be fair, but Frings career could have been so much more had his career not ended with injuries holding him back, especially from the 2010 WC, the year that signaled the end of the old Ballack/Frings guard and the start of a new generation for the DFB.
His career will be one that should be more revered than it will be. Retiring from a hip injury that took longer to recover from than expected, Frings ends his career with stats that few defensive midfielders attain. 564 club appearances. 66 goals. Three Pokal Titles. The Bundesliga crown and a lengthy international career during a time where Germany revamped their program after their 90’s and were on the cusp of international glory. Torsten Frings will be missed and should go down as one of the Bundesliga and DFB’s great players
Header courtesy of flickr
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