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Ballack hurt by home jeers in final Munich match

Written by: Staff

BERLIN, May 13 (Reuters) Germany captain Michael Ballack expects to reach a deal with Chelsea within the next few days and said it hurt to be jeered by Bayern Munich fans before his final match today.

Ballack, who led Bayern to three Bundesliga championships and three German cups in his four years in Munich, blamed the club's executives for whipping up public sentiment against him after he said he wanted to move to Chelsea next season.

''Those things got whipped up a bit in recent weeks after some remarks by the club's management,'' Ballack told Premiere television when asked about the jeers directed at him before the match and during the first half.

''The fans are sensitive to what is said. But I always tried hard to do my job and that should be honoured. I want a new challenge now. I've got to accept some jeering. It shows I was an important player but it does hurt.'' The jeers began at a ceremony before the match when Ballack and other players who are leaving the club were given flowers.

The 29-year-old appeared stunned by the cold reception from the 69,000 Munich fans.

The booing continued into the first half until Bayern commercial manager Uli Honess went out in front of the crowd to appeal to the fans to stop jeering.

''I wasn't trying to mess anyone about,'' Ballack said, dismissing criticism aired last week by Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. He has said he wants to move to Chelsea but said he has not yet signed a deal.

''I was not able to make a decision sooner and couldn't force a decision just because Bayern managers demanded one. There are a lot of others at Bayern who don't know whether they have a future at Bayern Munich or not.

''I've had a great time here and felt good with a great team that won a lot of titles,'' Ballack said.

Ballack, who can now leave Bayern on a free transfer, said he wanted to have a contract signed by the start of the World Cup in four weeks.

''I'll decide in the next few days,'' he said.

Reuters SY RN2306

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