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President's birthday interview, part 3

Hoeneß: I’ll be a very active 60-year-old

On 5 January, FC Bayern president Uli Hoeneß celebrates his 60th birthday. rounds off the countdown to the milestone event with the third and final part of a major birthday interview, in which Hoeneß reflects on retirement, death, and his top priorities for the next few years. The conclusion drawn by the man credited with transforming Bayern into one of the world’s top clubs is a positive one: “I’m very satisfied.”

Birthday interview with Uli Hoeneß, part three: Uli Hoeneß, is it okay if we now describe you as a gentleman in your 60s?
Hoeneß: I have no problem at all with that. I just hope none of our fans jump to any conclusions. On this occasion, I really can't do anything about it, because in my passport it says: date of birth, 5 January 1952. Even I can't change that.

Some people choose to retire at 60. What about you?
I think that's a difference between myself and a lot of folk. I'm going to try and continue my life as it currently is. I don't have the feeling I've become a different person overnight. In any case, my life has changed dramatically simply by virtue of the fact I'm no longer an active member of the management. What I certainly won't be doing for the foreseeable future is descending into complete inactivity. I don't want to sit on my porch waiting for the sun to rise and set, playing golf in between times. I'm intending to be a very active 60-year-old.

Is that your recipe against old age?
I believe it's very important to remain active. I know a lot of people who were very good managers. They worked from seven in the morning until nine at night – and then suddenly, they just tended their little garden, took the dog for walks, bought a holiday home and kept going on vacation to the same resort. You see them again five years later, and you think to yourself: is he really only 65? By contrast, when I meet 75-year-old Helmut Markwort, who worked full-time until two years ago and still has plenty to do, I think to myself: that’s more how I imagine it.

Wouldn't your wife have liked to see rather more of you after you stepped down from the Bayern board of directors?
My wife did imagine it would be different. On the other hand, she's also interested in my well-being. Maybe the time will come when I start doing things the way she imagines it.

Do you occasionally contemplate the fact that, at the age of 60, you've already had most of the life you're going to live?
I only briefly have this feeling, when somebody I know well develops a serious illness, or someone dies. Naturally, these blows fall more often nowadays than they did 10 or 20 years ago. But you have to work your way through it. That's just the way it is.

Do you often think about death?
I don't shy away from things like that. Nor do I waste time thinking: I have so much ahead of me, so much I still want to do but haven't done yet. Beethoven's Unfinished Symphony isn't part of my repertoire.

Does your involvement in a fatal plane crash mean you’re specially aware of how quickly it can all end?
If something were to happen, I'd rather it happened quickly than over a ten-year period.

Is there any single major target you’re determined still to hit?
Obviously, we can't just sit back now, trying to maintain the status quo. Standing still is a step backwards! We've achieved some essential goals for Bayern Munich. We've made the club financially healthy, we restructured it as a joint stock company, we attracted two fantastic shareholders in adidas and Audi, we've transformed the Säbener Strasse into a park, we've given the basketball section a home with the Audi Dome, and the footballers a home at the Allianz Arena. Once we've paid off the stadium in five or six years, or eight at the most, the club will be in terrific shape. And the public image of the club is better than ever before. If a top manager from Henkel suddenly says in an interview: ‘I've asked my people to consider what we can learn from FC Bayern’, it’s a bit like a knighthood.