Hopfner: "It was a very positive surprise"

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At first glance, it's obvious: Karl Hopfner is doing splendidly. One and a half years after his retirement from FC Bayern, the long-serving President, Chairman and General Manager of the German record champions was, in his own words "in the best of moods" when he was presented with the German Order of Merit in Munich.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge recognised Hopfner's commitment over 33 years in various positions for FC Bayern, saying: "Karl was the good-hearted soul of the club". With a smile, Rummenigge recalled: "In the stadium he always sat between Uli and me, and I think he learned a lot from that. Maybe we got on his nerves a little bit, too."

How does Karl Hopfner follow Bayern matches these days, and what does he think of being honoured? The 65-year-old revealed this and more in an interview with fcbayern.com.

Congratulations on receiving the Order of Merit, Herr Hopfner! How do you feel about that?
"I consider it a great honour, something very special. When you receive an award like this after such a long time, spent partly in honorary positions and in international associations, it fills you with pride. I was also very pleased that Bavarian Minister of the Interior Joachim Herrmann personally presented me with the award. But I would also like to emphasise that I have always been part of a team. I'm being honoured as an individual now, but actually they all deserve it."

How did you discover you were going to be awarded the Order of Merit?
"In May I received a letter from Bavarian Minister of the Interior Joachim Herrmann saying that German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier had awarded me the cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, as it's officially called. This was a surprise, a very positive surprise! I hadn't heard a word about it before, not even that I had been proposed."

What will you do with the cross?
"It'll go into a display case at home. I'll only be wearing it today. There's also a little pin that comes with it, which I can wear in the future."

It's been a year and a half since you said goodbye to FC Bayern...
"I haven't quite bid farewell yet. I'm still Chairman of [the charity] FC Bayern Hilfe eV. But of course, I now watch FC Bayern from the outside, without any inside knowledge. Most of the time I think to myself: What a very good decision! Sometimes: What a good decision! Only very rarely do I think to myself: Uh-oh! (chuckles). I must honestly say: you have to take your hat off to what FC Bayern has achieved in recent years."

When you've been at the helm for decades, it's often not that easy to let go. How has it been for you?
"I quite consciously took this step. I wanted to let go as early as 2012, but then made myself available for a transitional period as first Vice-President. In 2014, as an obligation to FC Bayern, I took over the presidency. That's over now. And I'm very well. I have a lot of free time, I travel a lot and annoy my wife at home (laughs). The funny thing is: When I watch Bayern matches, whether in the stadium or on TV, I always catch myself feeling like I'm part of it all, exactly like before. I hope that will never change!”

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