'Bayern has been a great experience'
It was already late on an emotional evening, so the ceaseless attention paid to Pep Guardiola at the post-cup final party seemed to make the coach a little uncomfortable. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge called the outgoing Bayern boss onto the stage at Telekom's Berlin HQ one last time, drawing yet another huge round of applause from the assembled guests.
"We've had three years with Pep. And they were magnificent years, I can tell you that," declared the chairman. Guardiola masterminded his team's victory over Dortmund in Saturday evening's cup final to complete a domestic double and take the Catalan up to seven trophies with FCB: three league titles, two cup triumphs, the FIFA Club World Cup, and the UEFA Supercup.
It is a truly impressive haul, "and what other coach can point to anything like that?" asked Phillip Lahm, who declined the captain's usual privilege of hoisting the cup into the night sky and left it to the boss instead. "I thought it would be fitting. The coach has done so much for the team and the club. He deserved the cup." Other senior players joined in. "He's given us a lot tactically," said Thomas Müller. "Bayern Munich have never before played football like we did under Pep Guardiola," added Manuel Neuer.
Unparalleled success story
The Spaniard remained modest as always. "It's been a huge, huge honour for me to be at Bayern and in Germany. It was the right decision to come," he stated. Tears flowed after the final whistle, "and that proved to me that he's had three great years here and leaves the city and the club with a tear in his eye," observed Lahm. "Once the last game's over, you can be human too," Müller mused.
Rummenigge expressed admiration at the way Guardiola maintained his new players' hunger for silverware despite taking over a team that won the treble in 2013. "Normally you're in a rut after a season like that, and you have to fight your way out of it," the chairman said. "Thanks to this man we never fell into a rut, but instead experienced an unparalleled success story." And in 2016 "it's another grand exit to the season," a smiling Müller declared.
Quite apart from winning seven of his 21 career trophies with FCB, Guardiola's overall record in Munich is outstanding. 124 of his 161 competitive matches in charge ended in wins. He led his men to the Champions League semi-finals three years in a row, meaning Pep's Bayern contested 36 of 39 possible fixtures in the competition. The equivalent figure for the DFB Cup is 17 out of 18. His 82 victories in 102 Bundesliga matches is the best win percentage for a coach in league history.
Even on such a great day for the club, there were bittersweet moments. "I'll miss working with these players every day. These lads are outstanding," Guardiola admitted. "It's been a great experience for me and life in Munich has been super. So is the Bundesliga: the stadiums always full, the fans respectful. It's all been very, very good. I wish Bayern all the best in the years to come." And everyone at Bayern says: Gràcies, Pep!