He played his first football with home club VfR Osterode, before moving to the amateur team of Werder Bremen in 1988. He was discovered by Otto Rehhagel and soon moved to the professional team.
Between 1989 and 2002 he was active in 379 games for Werder, in which he scored 101 goals, making him the record Bremen goal-scorer. Despite some offers by major European clubs such as Bayern Munich, he remained loyal to Werder Bremen, retiring somewhat early after the 2002 World Cup. Bode also won renown because he was a particularly fair and decent player who only was booked ten times in his entire Bundesliga career and never got sent off. He was also known for his smart, sundry TV interviews.
In the seven years following 1995, he also played in 40 games for the German national football team, scoring 9 goals. He took part in the UEFA Euro 1996 final and in the final of the 2002 World Championships. At the 2002 FIFA World Cup Bode was a surprise substitution from manager Rudi Völler in the crucial third group match against Cameroon with the matchstill at 0–0. Being close to retirement the German fans felt Bode's selection was dubious, however Bode silenced the doubter by scoring the opening goal of an eventual 2–0 win for Germany propelling them into the knockout stages as group winners. It would be Bode's final goal and he made his last appearance in the World Cup final as Germany fell to Brazil.