Linke playing for Red Bull Salzburg
|Date of birth||26 December 1969|
|Place of birth||Sömmerda, East Germany|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Playing position||Centre back|
|2005–2007||Red Bull Salzburg||51||(3)|
|2007–2008||Bayern Munich II||27||(1)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Born in Sömmerda, Thuringia, East Germany, Linke began his football career in 1977, with local BSG Robotron Sömmerda. In 1983, he transferred to FC Rot-Weiß Erfurt, eventually making the breakthrough into the first team in 1989; with the latter, he had the opportunity to gain experience by playing in the East German first division.
After finishing third in the last year of the competition, the club was placed into the newly consolidated 2. Bundesliga in 1991, as part of the German reunification process. Linke was a starter throughout the club's campaign but was ultimately unable to prevent it from being relegated at the end of the season, while also appearing in four UEFA Cup contests.
During Rot-Weiß Erfurt’s German Cup win over FC Schalke 04, the latter team's management took notice of Linke and brought the defender into the club the following season. At Schalke he was also able to quickly earn his way into the starting line-up, and, from 1992 until 1998, he appeared in a total of 175 Bundesliga games for the Royal Blues, his debut coming on 1 September 1992, in a 0–0 home tie against SV Werder Bremen.
In 1998, Linke transferred to national giants FC Bayern Munich, where he would go on to experience the most successful chapter of his professional career. In his first season, he scored his first goal for the Bavarians in a 3–1 derby home win over TSV 1860 München, on 7 November, but would also start in the notorious UEFA Champions League final against Manchester United.
With Bayern, Linke won five leagues, three German Cups and four league cups, in addition to the 2001 editions of the Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup. In the final of the former, he scored the final penalty to give Bayern the victory in the shootout against Valencia CF.
Since first joining Bayern, numerous critics prophesied that Linke would never be able to hold on to his starting spot in the center of defense. The player made it a point to prove his critics wrong by continually impressing with solid, if unspectacular, performances. Not until his final season, under coach Felix Magath, did he end up losing his starting role to Croatian Robert Kovač, appearing in only 11 games, but helping in another league conquest.
At the beginning of the 2005–06 season, 35-year old Linke made the decision to extend his playing career by transferring to the Austrian Bundesliga, linking up with newly re-tooled FC Red Bull Salzburg alongside former Bayern teammate Alexander Zickler. Soon after arriving, he was appointed team captain, and became a regular fixture. During his second season with the Red Bulls, he added one last piece of silverware to his extensive collection by winning the league; on 3 May 2007, the club informed him that his initial two-year contract would not be extended.
On 13 June 2007, aged almost 38, Linke agreed to a Bayern return, linking with the club's amateur side in the third division. In early 2008, he re-joined Salzburg, serving as assistant to director of Football Heinz Hochhauser and subsequently retiring from playing.
In the 2002 World Cup, Linke played a key role in the team that would eventually finish runner-up after a 0–2 loss in the final to Brazil. Additionally, he scored his only national team goal during the group stage match against Saudi Arabia, an 8–0 routing.
Linke announced his international retirement after that tournament, but was called up for national duty once more in 2004. After numerous injuries to the defensive line, national coach Jürgen Klinsmann personally called the player on the telephone and asked him to temporarily come out of retirement. He appeared, being booked, in a 3–1 friendly win in Austria, on 18 August 2004, and retired immediately after, with 43 caps to his name.
|Club performance||League||Cup||League Cup||Continental||Total|
|East Germany||League||FDGB-Pokal||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|1991–92||Rot-Weiß Erfurt||2. Bundesliga||27||1|
|Austria||League||Austrian Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|2005–06||Red Bull Salzburg||Austrian Bundesliga||24||3|
|2007–08||Bayern Munich II||Regionalliga Süd||33||1|
|Germany national team|
- Schalke 04
- Bayern Munich
- Bundesliga: 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2004–05
- DFB-Pokal: 1999–2000, 2002–03, 2004–05; Runner-up 1998–99
- DFB-Ligapokal: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004
- UEFA Champions League: 2000–01; Runner-up 1998–99
- Intercontinental Cup: 2001
- UEFA Super Cup: Runner-up 2001
- Red Bull
- "Bayern crowned European champions". BBC Sport. 23 May 2001. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
- "Linke to leave Salzburg". UEFA.com. 3 July 2007. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- "Germany savage Saudis". BBC Sport. 1 June 2002. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- "Spielbericht Österreich - Deutschland" [March Report Austria vs. Germany] (in German). Fussballdaten. 18 August 2004. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- "Thomas Linke - International Appearances". RSSSF. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
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