Rummenigge: We can look to the future with optimism

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Happy birthday, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge! The FC Bayern chairman celebrates his 64th birthday on Wednesday, and the former international striker took time out to speak to fcbayern.com about his future, Oliver Kahn and Bayern’s start to the season, as well as revealing how the club intend to introduce young talents into the first team going forward.

The interview with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

Mr Rummenigge, you’re celebrating your 64th birthday today. How will you spend the day? And what’s your wish for the next year of your life?
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge:
“I’ll be in the office in the morning. This afternoon the ECA are visiting and then we’ll go to the Oktoberfest together this evening. When I resigned from my position at the ECA two years ago, I invited my colleagues on the committee to the Oktoberfest, which was so well received that they wanted to do it again. Today is the perfect time to do so.”

That sounds like a lot of work and not much relaxation for a birthday.
“It’s not work. Everything to do with football is a pleasure for me.”

The last two games have certainly been positive. What’s your summary of the season so far?
“We’ve won five out of seven games and also had a high-quality draw at Leipzig. The result against Hertha BSC in the opening game was the only one that was a bit painful. If we’d won that, we’d be top of the table now. Nevertheless we can be very happy with the start and we have to make sure we get the maximum out of the upcoming games against Paderborn, Tottenham and Hoffenheim. If we do that, we could be league leaders pretty quickly – and that’s where we want to be.”

"I think the best is still to come from him."

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

Is Tottenham the first real test in Europe?
“Yes, and there are two reasons for that. Firstly they got to the final last year, and secondly it has to be said that the Premier League is stronger than the Bundesliga at the moment. We’ll need a good performance there. I’m looking forward to the game. It’s a great stadium – the most expensive in the world, at any rate. It’ll be my first time there but London is always worth the journey.”

Last season the title race between Bayern and Borussia Dortmund wasn't decided until the final Matchday. Currently RB Leipzig are sitting in first place – is there a three-way battle for the title this season?
“It’s still a bit too early to say that. You can’t see how things are progressing until after Matchday 10. It’s important that we’re up there from the start. We mustn’t let ourselves fall nine points behind like last year. We have a top squad and can look forward to the future with optimism.”

You mentioned the squad: six players left the club in the summer, six came in. How happy are you with the new signings thus far?
“Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben in particular were important players for us, but we also shouldn’t forget the others with whom we won the double last season. We can be very satisfied with our transfer business and new signings, though. Philippe Coutinho obviously stands out, he’s world-class calibre and you can see that clearly. He makes the difference and he’s found the perfect partner in Robert Lewandowski. We can expect a lot from those two in the future. Ivan Perišić has also fully lived up to expectations, as have the two French World Cup winners we signed. I like Benjamin Pavard a lot because he’s a really good player and a modest person. Lucas Hernández was the most expensive signing in Bayern’s history. I think the best is still to come from him. We mustn’t forget that he’s just come back from an injury lay-off of around five months. Then there are Michaël Cuisance and Fiete Arp, who are both promising talents. In the future, we want to fill places 17-20 in the squad with youngsters who have a chance of playing fairly regularly.”

The young players such as Arp, Cuisance and Alphonso Davies are featuring consistently for the reserves. Is that the way of the future?
“There are two ways: one is via the reserves, as we saw last weekend. Davies and Cuisance were in the first-team squad on Saturday and then on Sunday they both played an important part in the reserves’ win over FC Ingolstadt, who were playing in the Bundesliga not long ago. Our young talents are challenged significantly more in the third division than they are in the Bavarian regional league. The second way, as we’ve done with a few players, is selling them but with a buy-back option. They’re all now in the Bundesliga or Bundesliga 2, and we have to watch them. They’re young talents and it’s important for them to be playing regularly as that’s the only way they’ll develop. Given the quality of our first-team squad, it’s not easy. It’s therefore crucial that we’re playing in the third division but if someone has the ability to play in the first or second division, we shouldn’t deny him that. We should find a possible solution, and that’s what we did in the summer.”

Your board colleague Jan-Christian Dreesen recently presented record figures for the 2018/19 financial year. How do you assess Bayern’s current economic state?
“We’ve been a limited company for 17 years and I believe we can be extremely happy with our progress. From day one, our aim has been to permanently increase both turnover and profit, and up to now we’ve always done that. At the end of last season, we were able to present turnover of over €750 million as well as all-time-high profit. That’s important and shows that while Bayern is having sporting success, it is still managed in an extremely serious and sound manner. I have to say it does make me rather proud that we’re continually in top condition financially. I was born with my talent as a footballer – obviously I had to work at it – but I had to acquire my management skills at FC Bayern completely from scratch.”


Oliver Kahn will join Bayern in January and learn the ropes alongside you. What does that look like? Does your work together only start in January or are you already in regular contact?
“I’ve had various conversations with Oliver Kahn already. It’s important for him to get to know FC Bayern anew because some things have completely changed. Oliver has realised pretty quickly how big FC Bayern has become. The whole football industry has changed. I’ll support him and then hand him the baton on 31 December 2021. He’ll give it his best and I have no doubts that it will run smoothly.”

And then you can sit back and enjoy a new chapter in your life?
“I’m 64 now and there’s a nice song, ‘When I’m 64’. It’s by my favourite band The Beatles, so this song is in the back of my mind. Thankfully I’m still fit and healthy. I’ve always enjoyed the job but I’ve always been someone who knows that you have to pass things on to the younger generation at some point. I had to do that when I was a player, and that worried me more than this because I still didn’t know what I was going to do after the end of my playing career. I have a great family and a very nice life. After I step down, I will certainly continue following football and in particular FC Bayern – and keeping my fingers crossed for them.”

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