'He can be proud of his work'
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'.
The last nine years of Uli Hoeneß’s tenure as manager, before he took up the position of president, began with the long-awaited triumph in the Champions League in 2001. Bayern had already established themselves as the dominant team in Germany and won four league titles and four DFB Cups between 2001 and 2009. Hoeneß continually refined the squad and signed numerous big names including Roy Makaay, Mark van Bommel and of course Franck Ribéry.
Always by his side was Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who was installed as vice-president in 1991 and sat on the executive board with Hoeneß from 2002 following the spin-off of the football division into a public limited company. “I learned a lot from him,” said his long-time companion. The pair had first met back in 1974, when new signing Rummenigge became the roommate of World Cup winner Hoeneß. “Nobody at FC Bayern has known him for as long as I have – and I think I know him better than anyone,” he says.
“We were also driven somehow,” describes Rummenigge. “He was an incredibly dashing, clever, intelligent person and he always had a huge network that he could draw on.” Rummenigge and Hoeneß have suffered and celebrated side by side in the stands for many years (“he gets happy like a little child”) and they’ve travelled the world to make signings.
“We were always a kind of duo – hopefully not the infernale variety,” recalls the FCB chairman with a grin. “Neither of us are business experts but we acquired everything over time. It has a lot to do with experience, too. There are some things you can’t learn at university.”
Looking back, Rummenigge doesn’t hide the fact that there were sometimes differences of opinion between them. “But for us, it was always about the well-being of FC Bayern and that always united us.” He has always appreciated the reliability and social skills of his comrade-in-arms: "When you have a problem and you're in trouble, he's there for you. That’s how he’s shaped this family feeling.”
As a manager and a man of action behind the scenes, Hoeneß was, according to Rummenigge, very present. “He has lived this club like no one else – and presumably like no one ever will again.” The decision to step down, in Rummenigge’s view, is “brave and responsible – at some point you have to be prepared to pass the baton to the next generation.” Along with wishing him good health, fortune and happiness, Rummenigge hopes his buddy “can watch his Bayern with pride from Tegernsee. And he can be proud of his work.” In any case, Hoeneß is not going to disappear. “There’ll never be a life without FC Bayern for him, and he’s always welcome here. I wish my friend Uli all the best.”
Rummenigge’s Hoeneß moment
“I’ve had so many special moments with him that it’s extremely hard to pick one out. It was certainly an unusual turn of events in 1984 when I moved from Bayern to Inter Milan. Uli was manager in Munich at the time and negotiated for the club – and at the same time he was always there for me for advice. Only a few players had advisers back then. Inter got a new player, I had a new challenge and in one fell swoop, Bayern were out of debt. My move was a win-win situation.”
„"I know that I can always rely on him."”
“I’d already had a big offer from abroad a year before that. It was interesting but not the best. At 28 I wanted another new experience. Uli advised me to reject it. ‘If someone really wants you, they’ll pay really well,’ he said. Then when Inter came knocking, he negotiated really hard, and on my behalf too. I believe those negotiations were very important for both of us because we both learned a lot. I know that I can always rely on him.
“Bayern got 11 million Marks for me, they could pay off their liabilities of 7.5 million Marks and still had money to buy players such as Lothar Matthäus and Andreas Brehme. Uli had managed to restore the club, and that was the start of the next chapter in the club’s hugely successful history.”
On Friday in part four of our series ‘A life for FC Bayern’, fcbayern.com says goodbye to Uli Hoeneß with a look back over his time as president.