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Ready, willing and able

New director of sport Nerlinger raring to go

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Everyone recalls goals which ultimately settle matches, titles, and trophies. There are also goals which decisively shape a career. Christian Nerlinger struck three such goals back in 1985. “We were 3-0 down, but I scored three and we equalised,” the 36-year-old related to, recalling a youth match he contested for TSV Forstenried against a certain Bayern Munich. “The call came a week later, inviting me in for a trial. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.” Some 24 years later, the lad who once deprived Bayern of a victory but went on to start a professional career with the club, has been tasked with helping lead Munich into a new era.

On 1 July 2009, when Louis van Gaal supervises his first training session at the Säbener Strasse, Nerlinger commences his new job at Bayern. It will be his first day as director of sport. “Everything which comes into the sporting category,” is how he describes his responsibilities. “In other words, the senior team, the youth section, and scouting.” Nerlinger has inked a three-year contract with his new employer.

From team manager to director of sport

The ex-pro admits it has been an “amazing sequence of events”. A year ago, he applied for an internship at the club but was hired by Jürgen Klinsmann as team manager. Now, he is taking on part of Uli Hoeneß’s responsibilities. The general manager is set to step down from the board at the end of the year and move to the supervisory board.

“I was in the right place at the right time,” Nerlinger smiles. “Uli Hoeneß and I will work together until the end of the year,” he explains, thrilled at the chance to learn from the ultimate paragon of club management. Nerlinger takes sole responsibility on 1 January 2010.

Perfectly prepared

That does not mean the start of a post-Hoeneß era, the new director of sport emphasises, as supervisory board chairman-elect Hoeneß will continue to play an important role. “It’s simply a restructuring,” Nerlinger says. “I’m very proud at the chance to be involved, shape and grow into the new situation.”

The season as team manager had been the perfect preparation, he feels. “It’s been a great year because I’ve been able to watch and learn so much.” That included aspects he would never have known about as a player. He had also talked long and hard with Hoeneß, “constructively, but not avoiding controversy, because we both value that.”