Bayern's ascent: Hoeneß as a manager and a person
An era draws to a close on Friday as Uli Hoeneß says farewell to FC Bayern at the annual general meeting after 49 years as a player, general manager, director, president and head of the Supervisory Board. He has shaped the record German champions over decades like nobody else. As a farewell, we are looking at his relationship with FCB in our series 'A life dedicated to FC Bayern'.
In his early years as FC Bayern manager, Uli Hoeneß did everything to lead the club back to success. He admits today he pushed to the limits back then. One year after he took up the position, Bayern won the championship title, the first silverware since whe 1976 Intercontinental Cup triumph. Munich's ascent to the pinnacle of German football began.
Bayern went on to win ten more championship titles until the year 2000, knocking FC Nürnberg off their perch as German record champions. In 1996 they won the UEFA Cup, laying down a marker on the European stage. Hoeneß reinforced the squad gradually, signing players like Lothar Matthäus, Oliver Kahn and Giovane Elber during that period. The young manager also broke new ground in terms of merchandising.
Rivals were suspicious of the ambitious Hoeneß but he was soft at heart. Hoeneß helped everyone in need. He was there for forward Lars Lunde when the latter had a train accident in April 1988, going into a coma for 12 days. Hoeneß helped many people in his career, "not only me," the Dane says today. "I could probably name 100 names."
Lunde was on loan at Aarau back then, but after his accident Hoeneß brought him back to Munich for rehab. Lunde, aged 24 then, lived with the manager's family for a few weeks. "It's not a matter of course, it's brilliant that I could feel so much warmth," Lunde says.
„This family stand for values that do you good.”
When he came out of the coma he first had to learn how to brush his teeth or use cutlery. He was unable to keep his balance, even while sitting. He had lost ten kg of muscle mass. In Munich he fought his way back. Rehab at the hospital, training at FC Bayern, assistance from the family. At the beginning he felt as if he had "a 100-kg bag on my back," says Lunde. Hoeneß helped him rid himself of the burden.
The forward ultimately made his comeback but never fully recovered. "The ball had been my friend, after the accident it wasn't any longer," says Lunde. He had to finish his career at the age of 26. Fast forward to today. He has been working at a hospital in Bern for many years. "I'm grateful I'm still alive, and my life is fine," he says: "I have nice memories, I like to get up in the morning and go to sleep in the evening – and it's even better when FC Bayern win. I'll always be grateful to Uli."
Lars Lunde's Hoeneß moment
"I can't name a specific moment, it's much more than that. It's a feeling. When I lived at his home back then, the way he and his family treated me was just brilliant. He was so warm-hearted but normal at the same time, you never felt you were living in the house of the manager of the great FC Bayern. This family stand for values that do you good. They're always there for one another, treat everyone with respect and always try to help. Such families are rare, many should learn from them."
"My girlfriend could go there whenever she wanted, just like me. If she wanted to stay overnight – no problem. That wasn't a matter of course either. After all, we were still strangers, despite everything. I was at the stadium with Uli once. Bayern lost. We had to walk 50 metres to his car after the match, it was raining, but Uli took his time for every fan. Others would have passed in such a situation. But Uli has never forgotten it's about the people out there. I got to know him as a humble, thoughtful and empathic person. I think he gives back because he knows he's been very lucky in his life. He gives others a good feeling. His wife Susi is just like him, as are his children, Sabine and Florian. They radiate a lot of warmth. I must say: hats off to this family. I think a lot about the Hoeneß family. Every day I hope they're doing very well."
On Thursday, the fcbayern.com series 'A life for FC Bayern' looks at Uli Hoeneß' years as a manager from the 2000/01 season.