Farewell interview with club doctor Dr. Müller-Wohlfahrt
Dr. Hans Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt has been the doctor Bayern have trusted for over 40 years. Franz Beckenbauer, Lothar Matthäus and Arjen Robben have all been made fit by ‘Mull’. Now, the world-famous sports orthopaedist is saying “Servus” to the record champions and has given an interview to club magazine ‘51’.
Interview with Dr. Hans Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt
Dr. Müller-Wohlfahrt, you started at FC Bayern in April 1977. Do you still remember your first day?
“Very well. I was actually late getting there, having driven from Berlin to Munich, which you can easily misjudge. I ran up the steps to the conference room, where everyone was waiting for me: President Wilhelm Neudecker, general manager Robert Schwan, head coach Dettmar Cramer. I was quite exhausted but they got down to business. Schwan said: “We’re looking for a doctor like you. Do you want to do it?” I answered that I did, shook hands and was the new Bayern doctor. Cramer put his hand on my shoulder and said: “Doc, let’s get started.” That was my cold start at FC Bayern. I liked that idea of not wasting any time.”
Uli Hoeneß used to come and see every player and press to know what was wrong, how long they’d be out. You had to fumble around to know what was going on.
“It was like that for years. But even Neudecker used to stand by me in the changing room and ask those questions, with a commanding tone. And woe betide me if I wasn’t sure. If you didn’t make a clear statement, you were in trouble. On the other hand, I remember when Gyula Lorant got Branko Oblak to take off his cast after a broken toe and train. ‘We used to just shove the cartilage back in and keep walking. You’ll walk now!’ I got wind of that, jumped into the car in my doctor’s coat and pulled Oblak off the pitch. In the ensuing crisis meeting, Neudecker said, ‘We do what the doc says’.”
Doesn’t that mean a lot of pressure?
“I don’t really know what a feeling of pressure is. I like to take on challenges. Uli Hoeneß challenged me like no other. He challenged and encouraged me. Whenever I was treating someone, he always stood beside me and asked his questions. That’s how a deep trust developed. The most important thing for me was that he always accepted my decisions.”
A look at 40 years of Hans Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt at Bayern:
There are a lot of anecdotes about how he always used to summon you back from your holidays. One time even from a Caribbean island…
“We often used to go on holiday in France, and again and again we had to come back to Munich for a few days. When he was Germany manager, Franz [Beckenbauer] would often call: ‘Mull, we need you!’ I told my wife that things couldn’t carry on like that, so we flew to Antigua and didn’t tell anyone where we were. We were just gone. I still have no idea how Uli found out where we were, but one night there was a rustling under the door. I thought it was an animal or something, but it was a fax – ‘Mull, you have to come!’ That was when they were competing against Köln and Christoph Daum for the league. The whole country was tense. I couldn’t do anything but fly back. I had to. That damn obedience, that damn sense of duty. My wife stayed with the kids in Antigua, I was sitting in the dugout in Cologne.”
How do you follow Bayern matches? Always watching the ball or bouncing around?
“It’s my own treat. I can’t deal with boredom. I need excitement, I enjoy excitement. If there’s a player down, I’m there. Before I reach him, I’m asking where it hurts so I can get down to business.”
You’ve been given a number of names down the years: Dr. Radar Finger, the muscle whisperer, the Sunday Times called you Dr. Feelgood. Which do you like best?
“Dr. Feelgood. That came from Linford Christie. He said that you come out of Müller-Wohlfahrt’s practice already feeling like a winner. That did the rounds.”
As well as Bayern players, Dr. Müller-Wohlfahrt also treated a number of other famous patients. U2 singer Bono, boxing legend Wladimir Klitschko and world’s fastest man Usain Bolt are among them and have thanked the doctor:
You’ve treated some of the greatest athletes in the world. Which performance impressed you most personally?
“I think Usain’s [Bolt] 100m world record will stand forever. And I think he didn’t go all the way and could’ve gone even quicker. No one will match 9.58 seconds, especially now that controls have gotten stricter. Usain was an avowed opponent of doping, and I’d stake my life on him being squeaky clean. You often see doping in athletes, especially in the neck muscles, but doping can also be recognised through palpatory findings in the muscle structure. I’m good at observations. I know Usain was clean.”
You once said there would be a great emptiness without the Bayern job. Are you afraid?
“No, I still have a number of ideas, will work on a scientific programme at the Rechts der Isar university hospital and develop, among other things, a computer programme for muscle diagnostics using the artificial intelligence of computers. We’ll scan a large number of magnetic resonance images of injured muscles and, assigned accordingly, enter my palpatory findings and diagnoses, so that the computer will finally be able to make diagnoses independently in my name. It’s a great desire to pass on my knowledge to young doctors and to tackle new projects with my new sports orthopaedics team.”