The son of a German utility magnate, Bierhoff played for nine different clubs, in four different leagues. He scored a total of 103 goals in Serie A, one of the highest totals for a non-Italian in the league's history. In the 1997–98 season, he was the Serie A top scorer with 27 goals forUdinese. Bierhoff, however, was never a success in the Bundesliga. After failing to shine in Germany, he got his chance in the Austrian Bundesliga. That gave him the chance at Ascoli in Italy. But it was at Udinese, under Alberto Zaccheroni, that Bierhoff found success and won his place in fame and in the German national team. He then transferred to Milan in 1998, winning the Serie A title in his first season with the club, scoring 19 goals in the league and 21 in all competitions, including the match-winning goal in the final, title-deciding match of the season, a 2–1 away win over Perugia. During the 1998–99 season, he set a Serie A record for most headed goals in a single season, with 15. After three seasons there, he moved to Ligue 1 side Monaco in 2001 for one year, before moving back to Serie A to play for Chievo Verona, where he retired at the end of the 2002–03 season. In his last ever game, he scored a hat-trick for Chievo Verona in a 3–4 defeat to Juventus.
Bierhoff made his debut for the German national team in a friendly against Portugal on 21 February 1996. In his second appearance on 27 March 1996, he managed to score his first two international goals in his country's 2–0 win over Denmark. Altogether Bierhoff scored 37 goals in 70 caps, including both goals in the 2–1 win over the Czech Republic in the Euro 1996 final after having come on as a substitute. In an important qualification match on 20 August 1997, Germany trailed Northern Ireland, 0–1, with 20 minutes left when the manager of the national team, Berti Vogts, decided to send in Thomas Häßler and Oliver Bierhoff. Within seven minutes the former provided the latter with three assists, meaning Bierhoff had scored the fastest hat-trick in the history of the German national team. In 1998, he was appointed captain of the national team after the retirement of Jürgen Klinsmann. Bierhoff also played in Euro 2000, and both the 1998 and 2002FIFA World Cups. In Germany's opening match of the latter tournament at the Sapporo Dome on 1 June, he scored in an 8–0 win over Saudi Arabia. He made his last appearance for his country on 30 June, when he was brought on during the second half of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final against Brazil, but was unable to help the Germans score in the 0–2 loss.
Style of play
A large and prolific striker, Bierhoff was a strong, physical, aggressive, and powerful player, who played mainly as a target man in the centre-forward role. Although he was not particularly skilful with his feet from a technical standpoint, or a particularly good ball-player, he was known in particular for his aerial ability; indeed, in addition to his height, strength, and elevation, he was able to execute headers with extreme power and precision, having scored several critical goals with his head throughout his career, for both club and country, which led him to be regarded as one of the best players in the world with his head and as a specialist in the air. In addition to scoring goals, he was also capable of providing assists to his teammates with his head through knock-downs. Although he was less adept at scoring with his feet, he also possessed a powerful shot.
Bierhoff was from 2004 until December 2017 a manager of the German national football team, a new position created as part of Jürgen Klinsmann's acceptance of the coaching job. Essentially the duties revolve around the public relations aspect of the team as opposed to the coaching responsibilities. On 1 January 2018 a structural reform in the German Football Association took place as a technical director of the German national football team.
Bierhoff married Klara Szalantzy on 22 June 2001, Szalantzy was a model from Munich and former girlfriend of basketball player Dražen Petrović. She was behind the wheel in the fatal car crash that claimed Petrović's life. Bierhoff and his wife had a daughter on 27 January 2007. Bierhoff is a Roman Catholic. Bierhoff features in EA Sports'FIFAvideo game series; he features in the FIFA 14 Ultimate-Team Legends. Bierhoff is a member of the A.C. Milan Hall of Fame. Bierhoff was one of several celebrities in 2015 who endorsed the tabloid newspaper Bilds petition against anti-Islamisation group PEGIDA.