Daniel van Buyten strikes fear into the hearts of opposition attackers
Daniel van Buyten strikes fear into the hearts of opposition attackers

Still going strong

He has various nicknames: the Rock, the Wall, Tarzan. You get the general drift. The son of a professional wrestler, Daniel van Buyten has been an imposing presence at the heart of the FC Bayern München defence since joining the record champions from Hamburger SV in the summer of 2006.

Front to back

After eight years with the record German champions, however, the decision was taken in May 2014 not to renew his contract, although Van Buyten is still going strong for his country.

Quite apart from his evident back-row qualities, van Buyten has a fair scoring return for a defender. With 27 Bundesliga goals to his name all told, he has even turned out for Bayern as a stop-gap centre forward.

That, though, was in fact nothing more than a return to the roots for van Buyten, who regularly played up front in his youth and envisioned a long-term career in the same capacity. A coach switched him to a deeper position when he was 18, but even now he admits that if he had the opportunity to do it all again, he would happily take his chances in the forward line - "It would be a risk, but that's what I was trained for."

North to South

A much-travelled man, van Buyten's first foray abroad as a professional was in France with Olympique de Marseille, who signed him from R. Standard de Liege as a 23-year-old in 2001. After a brief loan spell at Manchester City FC, he joined Hamburger SV in 2004 and swiftly became a fans' favourite with his committed, uncompromising style - as well as becoming team captain.

His move to southern rivals Bayern did not go down at all well with some sections of the Northerners' support, but it did wonders for van Buyten's silverware collection, most notably in the form of league and DFB Cup doubles in 2008 and 2010.

Wrong to right

There have been disappointments along the way as well of course, none greater than the home loss to Chelsea in the 2012 UEFA Champions League final - the second time in three years that Bayern had fallen at the final hurdle in Europe's elite club competition.

That wrong however, was righted, and the trophy cabinet opened wide again after three barren years, van Buyten was still there, and still key, as Bayern won an unprecedented quadruple in 2012/13. More trophies followed a year later before the Bavarians saluted one of their most consistent defenders, still going strong for Belgium.