Created on 22-05-2008 at 00:00 AM
On the Munich Town Hall balcony a few days ago, Bernd Dreher was forced into a place he does not like to be, namely the centre of attention. “We’ve forgotten someone,” Bastian Schweinsteiger told the 30,000 throng in the square below, and cajoled the 41-year-old into coming forward with the championship shield in his hands. “I thought what the lads did was really nice,” Dreher told fcbayern.de in Jakarta. “I’ve normally stood right at the back on the town hall balcony, I’m happier there than in the spotlight.“
In twelve seasons with Bayern, Bernd Dreher never asked for nor received a starring role. Dreher was a reserve keeper, goalkeeping coach, a behind-the-scenes personality, and a symbol of continuity in the dressing room. He ends his playing career and leaves the club this summer after making just 13 Bundesliga and two League Cup appearances since 1996. Indeed, his medal collection comfortably outnumbers his total of games played.
Dreher has laid hands on 21 trophies with Bayern. He equals Oliver Kahn and Mehmet Scholl’s record of eight championships, shares with Kahn a record six DFB Cup triumphs, and has further medals from the League Cup (five), the Champions League and the World Club Cup. “I’m delighted we won things, but I don’t wander around all day with the medals around my neck,” the veteran explains, “I was part of it and it was great.“
The former Bayer Uerdingen number one keeper was fully aware of what he was taking on when he switched to Munich in 1996. “I knew I was signed as the number two,” he relates, “Sven Scheuer was there when I arrived, and I swapped the number two position with him. But after you’ve spent six seasons in Uerdingen and you get the chance to join Bayern Munich, I reckon everyone would do it.”
Unexpected comeback in 2004-5
His relationship with Oliver Kahn down the years has always been “super“, Dreher insists. “Olli didn’t quite know how to deal with me at the start, so I quickly made it clear that I accepted he was the number one and I was there to help him whenever I could.“ It is hard not to marvel at a character who was content to spend so long on the bench, and even returned to the professional ranks after initially hanging up his gloves in 2003 at the age of 37 to focus on his coaching role.
Just over a year later, then boss Felix Magath reinstated him as back-up goalkeeper. “We were short of a keeper at a training camp, so he told me to pull on my gloves – and then he decided to stick with me,” Dreher recalls, “obviously, one of the reasons was that we needed a twelfth German national in the squad [as required by league regulations], but I wasn’t such a bad player either. When I’ve been asked to play, I’ve always shown I’m up to the job.“
Dreher’s final Bundesliga appearance came a year ago on 19 May 2007 in a 5-2 victory at home to Mainz. He was 40 years, 6 months and 17 days old, making him the oldest player ever to appear for the club in a competitive fixture. “Actually, I am a little proud of playing for Bayern Munich football club at that age,” he confesses. He made his very last first-team appearance in January, keeping goal for the second half of a friendly in Düsseldorf and pulling off a stunning save near the end to preserve Munich’s 3-2 victory.
”I’ll never forget it, because I cut my knee very badly in the last minute,” Dreher reflects, indicating a scar on his left knee. The 41-year-old, whose contract with FCB expires on 30 June, had hopes of succeeding Sepp Maier as head goalkeeping coach, but the club opted for Walter Junghans instead. “I have to accept the situation, and that’s what I’ve done,” comments Dreher, who is now looking for a new challenge.
”I don’t know what I’ll do next,” he confesses, although coaching is the only real option for a man who craves the environment of the practice ground. “I could never work in an office,” he declares with a grin. He is open to offers from Germany or abroad. “I’ve spent years working with Sepp Maier and Oliver Kahn, and there are no better credentials than that. It’s a shame my time at Bayern is coming to an end. I’ve had some fantastic years there, but now I’m looking forward to a new chapter in my life.“