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President's birthday interview, part two

Hoeneß: Hard work matters more than luck

On 5 January, FC Bayern president Uli Hoeneß celebrates his 60th birthday. continues the countdown to the milestone event with part two of a major birthday interview, dedicated to the role and importance of luck. We asked Hoeneß to reflect on the light aircraft crash in 1982 from which he was the sole survivor, and to reveal a crucial conclusion from his youth, the realisation that success depends on hard work

Birthday interview with Uli Hoeneß, part two: Uli Hoeneß, looking back over your life, would you say you're a naturally lucky person?
Hoeneß: I basically wouldn’t say I'm especially lucky. What I think is that a great deal of work lies behind the many things I've achieved. Obviously, I've been lucky from time to time. For example, at the end of my playing career, if I'd gone to Hamburg rather than Nuremberg, I don't know whether I'd have ended up as a general manager. I definitely wouldn't have my sausage factory in Nuremberg. Or if I'd stayed in Munich, who knows whether I'd have got caught up in the drama between [former FCB president] Neudecker and the team. If so, I'd never have become manager. And obviously, I was incredibly lucky in the plane crash [on 17 February 1982].

Do you have any memories of the crash?
None at all. That's basically another piece of good luck. I was on my way to Hanover for the international between Germany and Portugal ahead of the 1982 World Cup. I took Helmut Simmler, one of my best friends, along with me. I was sitting at the back on the right, with him on the left. Just before we left the Säbener Strasse, someone from Hamburg SV rang up and asked whether we were flying to the match, and whether their financial director Naumann could fly with us? Of course, no problem! But he didn't show up. So the big question is where would I have sat if he'd flown with us? There was only one seat on the plane [a six–seater Piper Seneca] where the passenger survived: at the back on the right!