Augenthaler: I've always thought in red and white

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He was one of FC Bayern’s leading figures in the 80s and 90s. With his strong defensive play Klaus Augenthaler held the record champions together at the back and was dangerous going forwards with long precise balls up the pitch, deservedly earning himself the nickname ‘Auge’ (German for eye).

He wore the Bayern shirt for 17 years, with 545 appearances and 52 goals, and was captain for seven seasons from 1984 to 1991. In his playing career he won the Bundesliga seven times and the German Cup three times. Bayern Munich was Augenthaler’s only club as a professional, and on Tuesday he celebrates turning 60.

With the five years as FCB assistant coach included, the former sweeper has spent over a third of his life at the Säbener Straße. “I've always thought in red and white,” said the 1990 world champion. Since then he’s balanced working for FC live and spending more time with his family. Augenthaler’s birthday celebrations in Graz will be a low-key affair. A few days ago the Lower Bavarian native met to talk about his career and FC Bayern.

Interview with Klaus Augenthaler

Hello Klaus Augenthaler. It’s an important birthday on Tuesday. What are your thoughts about turning 60?

Augenthaler: “With a six at the start of my age everything will be a bit harder than before. But how you feel about it is what's most important. You’ve got to be happy that you can go to bed in the evening and get up healthy the next morning.”

So you don't have any health problems?

Augenthaler: “I don’t really. I had a hip replacement about 18 months ago. I put that off for two or three years. Now I feel like a new man and I can play football again. I can be active again, it’s fun.”

How do you look back at the past 60 years?

Augenthaler: “You always ask yourself where the time has gone. When I lead a training session or go onto the pitch, like I did last year in Donaustauf, I feel very young again. You think you’re 30 again. But the bones tell you a different story. Then you realise you’re double that age."

'It was always my club and my family'

Klaus Augenthaler

Looking back would you have done anything differently in your life?

Augenthaler: “I think I did everything right. I had one club as a player, FC Bayern. 17 years as a player, then five years as assistant coach. Sure, in hindsight I think England would have interested me. I always liked the style of play there - it was more traditional. There were players who went to Italy as well, like Brehme, Klinsmann and even Matthäus. That would have been a great experience. But I believe I did the right thing staying in Germany.”

You just said it yourself: 20 years of service at FC Bayern. What is the meaning of this club for you?

Augenthaler: “I have always thought in red and white and still do. It was always my club and my family.”

During that time you won the league seven times, five times as captain. Is there a title that you particularly remember?

Augenthaler: “The first league title was special. The 1986 title as well, when we won it on the final day (editor’s note: level on points with Bremen, won on goal difference). Bremen were our rivals and we had to keep chasing them down. That was a special year. In the home game in November I fouled Rudi Völler, he was out for five months after that, until the return fixture. That was his comeback and he won a penalty. If (Michael) Kutzop had scored we would have come second. That’s why this memory sticks out in my mind.”


In your long career some strange things must have happened. Do you have any good stories for us?

Augenthaler: “There are so many stories. There is a good one when Bernardo came to Bayern. It was the start of the season, we were on a boat trip when he was picked up from the airport. Bernardo joined us while we were having lunch. Uli Hoeneß realized that we didn’t know whether he could swim or not and we should be careful not to push him in. Everyone had a few beers and it wasn’t long before he was in the water. Then I shouted out ‘Crocodiles!’ I've never seen someone swim so quickly, although the water only went up to his hips (laughs).”

Now you’re back at FC Bayern. As a pundit you analyse the record champions’ performances post-game. Do you enjoy this job?

Augenthaler: “I find it really fun. I’m back in the Bayern family. I get to meet the players at the training ground as well as my co-workers in the studio. It’s great that I have this opportunity.”

Do you plan to return to coaching at some point?

Augenthaler: “When you’ve been in the football world as long as I have, you never really leave it. I took some time out and said I would do some other stuff I enjoyed. I went fishing. But at some point I realised I can’t just go fishing forever. At some point you get the urge again. I’m not completely sure. If a request comes in we’ll see what happens. The last offer I had was from abroad and I didn’t want that. I’ve already been abroad: Graz, Leverkusen and Wolfsburg (laughs).”

As a player you were known for your good perception and your long balls. Is there a Klaus Augenthaler type player in the current Bayern team?

Augenthaler: “Mats Hummels or Jerome Boateng maybe, although they’re bigger and more athletic. I was able to do well with my body shape though.”

Finally you have to explain another funny story from your career. In the game against Karlsruhe in 1996 it looked like you'd fallen asleep on the bench…

Augenthaler: “It did look like that yes! It really was a terrible game that one. We were leading 1-0 against Karlsruhe and it was really cold. I kept looking at my watch and I was filmed in slow motion. It looked like I closed my eyes but I was just looking down at my watch. I think it was the 78th minute and I just wanted the game to end.”

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