Danke, Jérôme Boateng - 10 years of passion for Bayern
He's a leader, winner and playmaker -- and has shaped FC Bayern for the last decade. Jérôme Boateng has made 362 competitive appearances (10 goals) in the German record champions' shirt, and Saturday's home match against Augsburg is set to be his last. After that, the number 17 will be saying goodbye to FCB after 10 years. As a two-time treble winner, the centre-back has played a leading role in perhaps the most successful generation in the club's history. For that, everyone at FC Bayern says: Danke, Jérôme!
Part of Bayern history
"I am incredibly proud to be a part of this history here, the fact I could play so many games here, make friends and enjoy football with Bayern," describes the 32-year-old, looking back on probably the most important chapter of his football career. "I'm just incredibly grateful to the club and to every individual here that I was able to spend this unbelievable time." The right time has come for the next chapter, though. "It was obvious to me I'd move on at some point. I'm a person who needs new challenges. New experiences and proving yourself again are incredibly important to me," he explains.
Boateng's Bayern adventure began in summer 2011, when he moved to Munich from Manchester City. "I felt at home quickly" recalls the Berlin native. As a defensive strategist who's strong in the tackle and in the air, he quickly held down a regular starting berth and became a key factor in the team's build-up play. His pinpoint, deep long balls were always an effective weapon, particularly against deep-lying opponents.
Helper for 'Mr. Wembley'
Mr. Wembley himself, Arjen Robben, still thanks Boateng for the "brilliant pass to Franck Ribéry in the Champions League final". In the 2013 final against Borussia Dortmund, the defender initiated the Dutchman's winner to make it 2-1 with a chipped ball over 50 metres. "The rest was then down to the incredible class of those two and how they played it. But, of course, I'm pleased I was able to kick that off," reminisces Boateng. It wasn't to be the last time that one of these passes led to a trophy. Only last summer, he set up the winning goal for Robert Lewandowski in the 1-0 win at Werder Bremen that sealed Bayern's 30th Bundesliga title.
In 10 years, Boateng has collected an unbelievable 24 trophies with the club along with numerous individual accolades. In 2016, for example, he was selected in the UEFA Team of the Year and as Germany's Footballer of the Year. "I was incredibly touched and proud to have done that as a defender. But that doesn't happen without playing in such a great team," says the 1.90 metre-tall defensive giant modestly. He also learned a fair amount from his teammates. "I always try to soak everything up -- not necessarily to copy but to ask himself why he's so good at that."
Spearhead -- on and off the pitch
The two Champions League triumphs are unforgettable pieces in Boateng's trophy haul, and the 2014 World Cup winner sees clear parallels between them. In both cases, he "fought his way back from a minor dip" to Europe's throne. The 2013 final was to the unsuccessful Finale dahoam a year before, what the 2020 triumph in Lisbon was to months of injuries and personal setbacks for Boateng. "It wasshowing: that's me, that's the real me when I'm fit," he emphasises.
This irrepressible desire is what characterises Boateng. "It's part of my mentality. I hate losing on the field. My teammates are like my family on the pitch and I try to protect them," says the nine-time German champion. Boateng is also a spearhead off the pitch, where he has campaigned on social issues such as racism in particular, which, according to Boateng, is "still too prevalent and you have to keep working against it, not look away".
Thanks from teammates
His teammates benefited from those leadership qualities more than anyone. "In the time we've spent playing together at centre-back, I was able to learn a lot from you," commented David Alaba, expressing his admiration for his long-time defensive colleague. Alphonso Davies also thanked Boateng: "Thanks for everything you've taught me. You're a real leader, you took me under your wing and guided me."
For 10 years, Boateng has epitomised heart and passion for his teammates, for FC Bayern and its fans. All concerned regret that his last game for the German record champions won't be taking place in a sold-out Allianz Arena. He would've deserved to hear 75,000 mouths shout: Danke, Jérôme"
Here's some of the best photo's from Boateng's decade at Bayern: