Franz Beckenbauer says thank you to Uli Hoeneß

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On Friday, at the Annual General Meeting, Uli Hoeneß will say Servus to his FC Bayern as president. Franz Beckenbauer had some parting words to say to his long-standing companion.

Dear Uli,

Right at the beginning, here's a clear message: FC Bayern wouldn't be what it is today if it hadn't been for you. And with that we're already in the middle of your story. I was there, right at the beginning, when you started at FC Bayern in 1970. We internationals had just come back from the World Cup in Mexico. It was a nice tournament - contrary to expectations we'd finished third - but we were on our last legs. And then there you were, along with Paul Breitner. You were like twins back then. With your zest and your vigour, we were left chasing after you, and then, after a few weeks, we caught you up. We became one team, one unit. It was the beginning of the great Bayern period in the 70s.

When I first saw you, I thought: "Man, that's an athlete. Here comes a super-athlete." Your abilities quickly bore fruit: this incredible speed, your willingness to put in the legwork, your awareness of where your teammates were, and finally your finishing. You were the ideal partner for Gerd Müller. Gerd would hang around the penalty area, and you would cover so much ground. I know of no better pairing than the combination of Gerd Müller and Uli Hoeneß. You were already a doer on the pitch, a leader. Basically, you already acted like a manager back then. You were ahead of your time.


People will remember your goals against Atletico Madrid, your run at goal against Dynamo Dresden - and your penalty in the final of the 1976 European Championship. Today I can admit I'm to blame for the miss. Only shortly before we'd heard about the new rule that the game against Czechoslovakia could be decided on penalties. We hadn't practised anything, nobody expected it to come to that, and the Germany coach Helmut Schön had said that in case of doubt I, as captain, should assign the penalty takers. I said I would go fifth, but I wasn't confident myself. It was difficult to find a candidate at all. Somehow there were less and less of us. Uli didn't want to take one either, I saw it in his eyes. But I talked you into it, and you summed up all your courage. You deserve the greatest respect for that, and I think your willingness weighs more than the fact that they're still looking for the ball in Belgrade today. Nowadays, we've all forgotten about the penalty shootout of 1976.

As I said before, as a player you were already the doer - and so after the much too premature end to your career you also got cracking like no other off the pitch. I would have wished for a few more years on the pitch for you, but your history as general manager, president and chairman of the supervisory board is unique in the world of football. What impresses me most about your history is the human aspect. You made FC Bayern your family, you helped everyone who needed help - and you attacked everyone who attacked yours. If you noticed: Hang on, what's going on with the players, you immediately put yourself in front of the team. They can talk to whoever they want. For almost 50 years now, every player has spoken of Uli with the greatest respect. Because when in doubt, he's taken it all upon himself. The players take notice of that, everyone is grateful.

Your greatest strength is also your Achilles heel. If someone takes a poke at you, you like to react very impulsively. Maybe sometimes it might have been quite good if you had taken a deep breath first - but what am I saying? In the past, after an explosion, I often only realised what I had done afterwards. And let's be honest, if you're not emotional about football, you can go and play chess. Nothing against chess players, but football also lives from the emotions it evokes in people.


What does the future hold? FC Bayern without you is inconceivable. You know that. You were predestined from the beginning to take this path. And you won't be gone from one day to the next. You can't be. You'll continue to make your experience available to your club. Uli Hoeneß is a godsend for German football and for FC Bayern. I think it says a lot that you put so much effort into choosing your successor. This shows that the future of FC Bayern beyond the point of your farewell is also close to your heart. Oliver Kahn and Herbert Hainer are individuals with whom I firmly believe we have the opportunity to continue the successes of the past decades. I'm very optimistic about the future of FC Bayern. Especially since you will remain on board as our advisor. You not retired now - you're in pre-retirement.

All the best, thank you so much for everything,
Your Franz

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