Happy Birthday! Franz 'Bulle' Roth turns 75
Franz Roth secured his place in FC Bayern club history in his first season. In the final of the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1967 against Rangers, the then 21-year-old scored to make it 1-0 in extra time - and led the Munich team to their first ever continental triumph. Today, almost 54 years later, the Bull is celebrating his 75th birthday!
"The Bull was a very important man for us," said Sepp Maier in the latest edition of club magazine "51", recalling the time together with the down-to-earth Allgäu native. "You need guys like him if you want to win something of course," added the former goalkeeper, reflecting on Roth's importance for the team and the club. This was true of the European Cup finals in 1975 and 1976, when Roth fired himself into the collective Bayern memory.
'Overath, Netzer, they were all afraid of him'
The Bull led the way with the first goal against Leeds United (2-0), and the following year he scored the only goal of the game against Saint-Étienne (1-0) with a free kick. "Scoring these important goals was wonderful of course," recalled Roth, who was an important part of the golden team featuring Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller and Maier. "It was a great time with a great team."
Born in Memmingen, he is a friendly person, with most of his sentences accompanied by a laugh. On the other hand, 'Bulle' Roth was very tough on the pitch. "If you said to him before the game: Take care of that player today, you wouldn't see anything from the player. Overath, Netzer, they were all afraid of him," reported Maier. But his own teammates had to be careful now and then. "I used to put on shin guards in training because I knew: If Franz is mad at me, he'll put me on the cinder running track," said Uli Hoeneß.
Loyal to Bayern despite offers from abroad
The sharpshooting farmer's boy made a strong impression in his first training session for Bayern in 1966. "There is someone who has the strength of a cow," said the then Bayern coach Zlatko 'Tschik' Cajkovski to the national team players who had just returned from the World Cup in England. "That's a bull, not a cow," corrected legend Maier. The nickname that accompanies Roth to this day was born.
Roth ran, fought, tackled and shot for Bayern in 322 Bundesliga games. Although his primary role was to neutralise the opposing playmaker, the four-time Germany international also scored 72 goals. He remained loyal to Bayern for a total of twelve years (1966-1978), and even turned down offers from abroad from AC Milan and Grasshopper Zurich. "There was nothing better in Europe. Why would you leave?" said Roth. "There are always players who switch clubs for a little more money and then become unhappy. Here at Bayern I knew everything was fine."
Close connection with FC Bayern
It was not until the age of 32 that he left the record champions, playing a year at Casino Salzburg in Austria and finally ending his successful career with SV Sandhausen in the amateur league before returning to the Allgäu. The passionate fisherman and golfer is still closely associated with FCB to this day, and regularly attended home games at the Allianz Arena before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. When 'Bulle' Roth talks about the record champions, he says "we" and "us". He suffers when the team suffers and celebrates when a title is won. A glass will be raised today - and for good reason: Happy birthday, 'Bulle' Roth!