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Mentor and friend

'Dettmar Cramer was a great man’

Dettmar Cramer, who has died at the age of 90, spent almost three years as FC Bayern head coach between 1975 and 1977. He decisively shaped the history of what would become Germany’s most successful club by masterminding back to back victories in the European Cup (1975, 1976) and sealing an Intercontinental Cup triumph (1976), thereby laying the foundations for the club’s rise to prominence at home and abroad. Cramer passed away on Thursday at his home in Reit im Winkl.

“To many people, Dettmar Cramer was more than merely a sporting figure,” commented FC Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. “To me he was like a fatherly friend, and the biggest influence on my early years as a professional. To a large extent, I have him to thank that I was very successful as a footballer. FC Bayern mourns the loss of a great coach and special individual.”

If anyone knew how a globetrotter really feels, it was Dettmar Cramer. The future Bayern boss was the first German coach to take the plunge and go abroad – he spread the word in over 90 countries during his career.

Double European Cup triumph

Cramer worked for FIFA up to 1974 as an instructor and coach in some 70 countries before coaching the USA national team for a few months. He finally arrived at FC Bayern in January 1975 – and was successful straight away. “He is the only coach to win the Champions League twice with Bayern Munich – back then it was called the European Cup,” recalled Rummenigge, who sees the 1976 Final at Hampden Park, a 1-0 win against Saint-Étienne, as the “greatest triumph.”

The only title he failed to win was the Bundesliga. The 1.65 metre tall coach, who was once mocked by Sepp Maier due to his diminutive stature (Cramer: “Sepp just has a different sense of humour”), certainly revelled in being photographed wearing a Napoleon fancy dress outfit. He enjoyed a very close relationship with Franz Beckenbauer, as Cramer explained: “When Franz and I are together we’re always on the same wavelength.”

Cramer left Munich for Eintracht Frankfurt in December 1977 but moved on again at the end of the season. After spells in Saudi Arabia and Greece he returned to the Bundesliga in 1982 with Bayer Leverkusen. Cramer spent three years in the Rhineland before taking another overseas posting.

Global renown

The football aficionado was always open to new cultural influences, in part to earn respect amongst his players. Before taking up a job in Japan at the end of the 1980s he used two pencils to practice using chopsticks. Within days he was able to divide up fried eggs with them much to his players’ admiration. Thanks to his abilities as a ‘professor of football’, as he was often called, Cramer is still seen as the father of the game in Japan.

There is nothing Cramer hated more than failure. “As long as better is possible, then good is not enough,” was his motto. “I’ve always tried to do a bit better.” Cramer has not just left a lasting impression as a coach, as Rummenigge declared. “He was a great coach – and, above all, a great man.”

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