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'Grazie Kalle'

Rummenigge celebrates with the FCB family

The new Säbener Lounge at the Allianz Arena was festively set on Friday evening. After all, the occasion was very special: One week after his 60th birthday Karl-Heinz Rummenigge threw a big party. Besides Rummenigge's family, the FC Bayern board and committee, coach Pep Guardiola and the skippers Philipp Lahm, Manuel Neuer and Thomas Müller, only FC Bayern employees were on the guest list, at the express wish of the chairman.

“Tonight I asked the staff to join in. I think that you're the core of this club, besides the team and the coach,” said Rummenigge in his address. “This club has grown so much in the last ten years – we've seen incredible progress – and it was only possible because the colleagues joined us in taking this step. I want to thank you for your very good work,” added Rummenigge.

'Continuity, professionalism and quality'

Stadium announcer Stephan Lehmann hosted the evening programme in a relaxed way, with Caribbean-Bavarian music by the band Die CubaBoarischen to set the scene. Comedian Chris Böttcher was responsible for the entertainment, presenting excerpts of his stage programme to peals of  laughter.

“Dear Karl-Heinz, to start off the 61st year of your life I wish for you to stay healthy and remain at FC Bayern Munich for a long time. Our club couldn't have wished for a better president than you,” club president Karl Hopfner told his long-time board colleague in his address. In his position as FC Bayern chairman, Rummenigge embodies “continuity, professionalism and quality,” declared Hopfner, stressing: “Nobody can fool you in international football any more.”

'Triumvirate' Rummenigge, Hoeneß, Hopfner

Uli Hoeneß, Rummenigge's former team-mate, later part of the “triumvirate” on the board with Rummenigge and Hopfner, had prepared an address too. Rummenigge's transfer to Inter Milan in the summer of 1984 is the reason that “to this day we've been debt-free,” declared Hoeneß, who arranged the move of the “incredible football player” for about 11 million marks, thereby putting the then indebted club in the black again. “It was a triangular trade at its finest. Everybody profited from it.”

After the end of his active career and his return to FC Bayern, when Rummenigge started his “second career” as vice president in 1991, a “wonderful time” shaped by “wonderful cooperation” began, said Hoeneß. “Today Karl-Heinz is – as I believe – the most important man in European football. I can only wish FC Bayern that Karl-Heinz will find the strength to be here for a long time,” declared Hoeneß, thanking Rummenigge in the same way as an Inter fan once did after a victory over Juventus: “Grazie Kalle!”

FCB among 'absolute elite in Europe'

When he joined FC Bayern as an 18-year-old, “I took up my apprenticeship. I had a fantastic time as a player,” explained Rummenigge. His second career as an official was “a bit of a surprise, I had to learn a lot.” Today FC Bayern is among “the absolute elite in Europe,” without the interference of oligarchs or other investors. “The culture at FC Bayern has to be defended. We have to be a different club compared to the ones in England, in Paris or in Spain.”

FC Bayern is “an extraordinary club,” stressed Rummenigge. He concluded: “I've been here for 41 years now and the only thing I can say is that I've been very fortunate to be here for so long. It’s wonderful.”