Kathleen Krüger: The strong woman behind the strong team
It was clear from her childhood that sport would be an essential part in Kathleen Krüger's life. She played football and practiced karate. As an adolescent she was called up for national karate teams, but at some point it became too time-consuming to practice both sports, so Krüger decided in favour of football: "Team spirit made the difference. I've always felt very much at home in a team."
Krüger joined Bayern aged 18 in the summer of 2003. In the early 90s she watched Bayern home matches together with her father and older brother from the south stand. "Both are big Bayern fans. That certainly reinforced my decision to stick to football, it strengthened my passion."
The midfielder was promoted to the first team after one year with the reserves. She made her Bundesliga debut in October 2004, a 4-0 victory away to Wolfsburg. 32 more matches in the German top flight followed. But her priorities changed over time, her future career took priority. She had to make a decision: "I hung up my boots at the age of 24 because I only got pocket money for all the effort. We all worked or studied on top of the sport," explains Krüger. She studied international management from 2009, working in the logistics branch of FC Bayern women on the side. But she was a student for only one semester.
„Like hitting the jackpot.”
Christian Nerlinger had just taken up the position of sporting director and was looking for an assistant. "FC Bayern had a considerably smaller staff then today," says Krüger: "One day Mr Hoeneß approached me and asked if I'd like the position. I completed the three-month application procedure and got the job. I've always wanted to work in sports, but I was very realistic from the start, I knew the branch is very attractive and that there are few jobs for many applicants. Being able to work in my sport at my club is like hitting the jackpot." When Nerlinger left FC Bayern in 2012 and Matthias Sammer became sporting director, Krüger was promoted to the position of team manager. She has been responsible for organisational procedures since.
The door is always open
Krüger's door is always open. The players pass her office at the Säbener Strasse several times a day. Krüger is in the thick of it. The players know she was a footballer herself, but she abstains from analysing the play. "We only talk about it when I'm sitting beside a player on the bench and mumbling."
Krüger is often asked about her role in a men's team. After all, she is an exception as a woman working in the Bundesliga. But she has never felt special. "We all have the same goal here: to be professional and successful."
Krüger is a colleague, an organiser and a troubleshooter for the players - and a crucial confidant. Krüger is a hub at FC Bayern. Not only the players have wishes and suggestions, but also the fitness coaches, the kitmen and the cooks, not to mention team security, sponsoring, marketing, travelling or media.
Her working hours are dependent on her "lads," for whom she is available around the clock, seven days a week, apart from few exceptions like Christmas and a few days during the summer break. "But that's the deal I've accepted," Kathleen Krüger says with a smile. "I'd never complain. I like my job far too much for that."