Stefan Effenberg

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The name Stefan Effenberg is synonymous with one of the most glorious periods in the club's history as this natural leader strode the international stage.

Midfielder Stefan Effenberg, a natural-born leader if ever there was one, possessed an extraordinary ability to drive and inspire his team-mates in the most tense and challenging circumstances. 'Effe' soon earned the nickname 'Cheffe', an endearing term for the Big Boss.

He arrived at Bayern from Borussia Mönchengladbach in 1990 aged just 22, but his first spell in Bavaria ended without honours and he moved on after two seasons. His return in 1998 coincided with a period of success in which he was to play a starring role.

Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld had made Effenberg one of his priority targets and put complete faith in the number 11 from the very first day. The player repaid that trust with outstanding performances and a superb track record, including the Bundesliga title in 1999, 2000 and 2001 and the German Cup in 2000. His career at Bayern reached a climax with the Champions League trophy in 2001 and the World Club Cup the following autumn.

Effenberg appeared for the Reds on 160 occasions, scoring 35 goals. He also earned 35 international caps (five goals) and won a runners-up medal at the 1992 European Championships in Sweden.

Hitzfeld never made a secret of his admiration for the on-field boss. "Stefan Effenberg leads this team, many of my players come to life when he's around. He goes up to his team-mates and instil confidence. When others are looking for a hiding place, that's when Effenberg steps forward," the coach enthused.

On 5 May 2002 ahead of the last match of the season against Hansa Rostock, a capacity 63,000 crowd at the Olympic Stadium gave Effe a standing ovation as he officially took his leave from the club. "Milan 2001, we'll never forget! Thanks Effe!" stood in huge letters on a 20 metre placard.

"Stefan has been outstanding in the four seasons he's spent with us, it's been one of the most successful periods in Bayern's history, and a lot of it is down to him," President Franz Beckenbauer said as he bade farewell to the team captain. Hitzfeld echoed the Kaiser's comments: "Stefan is a marvellous player who's had a huge role in Bayern winning so many honours."

Alas, there was to be no fourth domestic title in a row by way of a leaving present, and injury kept the midfielder below peak form in the last few months of his Munich career, "which was very unfortunate," new captain Oliver Kahn commented.

"He's had a worthy send-off from the fans, and he's deserved it," general manager Uli Hoeneß commented, "he's been a huge figure at Bayern over the last few years, and much of what we've achieved together is down to him, so I'm extremely grateful to him for that."

And what did the 'Boss' have to say? "I've had four wonderful seasons," he agreed, "everything, the whole A-Z, worked together perfectly."

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