Franz ‘Bulle’ Roth earned his place on Bayern's all-time roll of honour in his very first season in Munich, for it was the 21-year-old from Memmingen who scored in stoppage time to seal a 1-0 victory over Glasgow giants Rangers in the 1967 European Cup Winners’ Cup final. He also scored crucial goals in two of the three European Cup triumphs between 1974 and 1976. “Obviously, it was wonderful to score these important goals," said Roth, a member of the Golden Generation spearheaded by Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller and Sepp Maier. “It was a wonderful time with a fantastic team."
The man from the Allgäu, who runs two sport shops in his hometown, is a warm and friendly individual, but was as hard as nails out on the field. He was quick and strong in the tackle, as team-mate at the time Uli Hoeneß ruefully remembers: “I used to put on shin pads for training, because I knew if Franz was cross with me, he'd dump me on the running track. Training was a battle for survival, and it was fantastic for my development as a player," the club president smiled.
Two anecdotes illustrate the power behind The Bull’s thunderbolt shot. Once upon a time, he broke the net in a game away to Rapid Vienna. “The ball was nestling in the corner, but the referee didn't give the goal," the former player recalls, “we went to the goal and saw the net had been torn. The ref whistled for a goal after that." And they still talk of the match at Grunwald Stadium, in which the myth has it that Roth demolished the stadium clock. “But I didn't knock it down," he concedes, “I hit the scoreboard with the clock on top of it. It wobbled a bit."
The son of a farmer made his mark instantly when he turned up for pre-season with Bayern in 1966. Yugoslavian coach Tschik Cajkovski, surveying the players who had returned to the club from the World Cup in England, attempted to describe Roth as a bull, but used the wrong word in his patchy German. “We call it a bull here," Sepp Maier informed the coach, and a nickname for a lifetime was born.
Twelve years in Munich
Roth gave his all for the Reds in 322 Bundesliga appearances. His main job was to neutralise the opposing playmaker, but the man capped four times by Germany still managed to score 72 goals, and remains in the top 15 in the club's all-time goalscoring chart.
The Bull remained loyal to FCB for 12 years from 1966 to 1978, spurning lucrative offers from the likes of AC Milan and Grasshoppers Zürich. “There was nothing better in Europe, so why would I move?" he says, “you'll always have players who change club for a bit more money but end up unhappy. Here at Bayern I knew everything was okay."
He finally moved on at the age of 32, spending one season with Casino Salzburg in Austria, before winding down his career with Sandhausen as an amateur. And then he moved back home. Nowadays, Roth remains close to FCB and is an Allianz Arena regular, still speaking of “us" and “we" when he talks of the club. He suffers when Bayern miss their targets, and enthusiastically celebrates every new trophy.