Goalscorer, world champion, legend - Paulo Sérgio
Goalscorer, world champion, legend - Paulo Sérgio played for FC Bayern for three years from 1999 to 2002, during which time he experienced two last-gasp championships and the legendary Champions League triumph in Milan. The 1994 World Cup winner celebrates his 51st birthday on Tuesday. fcbayern.com sends best wishes and looks back at his career in Munich.
It was a good day to make history on 23 May 2001 at the San Siro in Milan. The stage was set for the huge footballing occasion in the Opera del Calcio, where FC Bayern and FC Valencia fought for the Champions League trophy. In a memorable final, Bayern prevailed in the penalty shootout and won the most important trophy in European club football for the first time since 1976. And right in the middle of Munich's collective celebration was Paulo Sérgio, who held the coveted trophy aloft in the Milan night sky.
2001 UCL victory ‘very emotional’
"It was always my goal to win the Champions League," said Sérgio, who moved to Munich from AS Roma after Bayern lost the 1999 UCL final in Barcelona. "It was an important moment for me because it was always my wish to play in the Champions League. We managed to lift the trophy again in 2001, after 25 years. It was very emotional. We did so much to achieve that moment," Sérgio recalled.
Sérgio paves the way to the final in Milan
Bayern’s place in the Champions League final was also secured thanks to the Brazilian. He paved the way from Old Trafford to Milan and Europe's football throne with his late goal off the bench in the 1-0 quarter-final victory at Manchester United. Four days before the final, Sérgio and his teammates won the memorable last-minute league title in Hamburg. "It was a great time. We won everything in the three years," said Sérgio, reflecting on his time in Munich.
Many hours on the pitch
Born and raised in the metropolis of São Paulo, it was clear early on where little Paulo's path would lead. He spent his days playing football for hours on his local pitches. "My parents always scolded me, my aunt scolded me: 'Where are you, Paulo? Where have you been?'" "I was on the pitch, playing football," was his answer. "Football was always the big thing in my life." At 13, he joined Corinthians and at 18 he became a professional, playing in the domestic league for a total of six years.
Leverkusen, Rome, Bayern
In 1993 at the age of 24 he moved to Bayer Leverkusen, where he continued in the tradition of young, talented Brazilian players at the Werkself. After four years and 121 games (47 goals) in the Rhineland, he moved to AS Roma in Italy’s Serie A in 1997. During his second season with Roma, an offer from FC Bayern was delivered by Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. "I immediately said 'yes' - and I shook hands with them and said 'of course'," recalls Sérgio.
Sérgio declines offer from Dortmund
"Paulo Sérgio suits us perfectly, in terms of his playing style and his position. He can be used on the right, left and up top," said Hoeneß at the time. Just a week later, Borussia Dortmund also made Sérgio an offer "where they wanted to pay twice as much as Bayern". But the attacker remained steadfast. "I told them: I gave my word and we shook hands, and that's why I'm going to Munich."
1994 World Cup glory
A good decision, because the 30-year-old celebrated his greatest successes at club level at the Säbener Straße: Champions League, Intercontinental Cup, two German titles (2000, 2001) and a DFB Cup victory (2000) adorn Sérgio’s CV. There was also the league title in Brazil with Corinthians (1990) and the World Cup victory in 1994 in the USA. "The greatest moment in my career. After 24 years we were world champions again - with a fantastic team. I thank God that we have become world champions," the player declared.
Two-time Goal of the Month at Bayern
The devout Christian ("God did a lot for me and showed me the right way to go. That's why I won everything") played 125 competitive games in three seasons for Bayern, scoring 34 goals. Two of his goals were voted "Goal of the Month" by viewers of the ARD Sportschau: in September 1999 for a 2-1 victory in the UCL group game at PSV Eindhoven, and his backheel in May 2000 for 3-0 in the spectacular league finale against Werder Bremen.
Brought on for the penalty shoot-out
But back to the Milan final, was there something else? Shortly before the end of extra time, Sérgio came into play at 1-1 and it went to a penalty shoot-out. The Brazilian was the first FCB penalty taker and fired the ball over the bar. "I saw the goalkeeper going to the left corner and changed my decision at the last second," he explained after his miss. Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld "brought him on as a substitute shortly before the end because he said he was a safe penalty taker," said captain Stefan Effenberg years later with a smile.
In action for FC Bayern Legends
That's just one of the many anecdotes that Sérgio and his former teammates share at the regular FC Bayern Legends meetings. What remains is the legacy of the trophies won and the numerous memories from his three years at Bayern. "This is the club that gave me their hand - and I'll always be grateful for that."
Paulo Sérgio was on the road in his hometown with the FC Bayern Legends in December 2019. You can see the highlights here 👇