Karl Hopfner: I tremble with anticipation at games just like I used to
Karl Hopfner retired six years ago. On the occasion of his 70th birthday on Sunday, the former president and long-serving club policy maker chats about his childhood in the heart of Munich, the new FC Bayern and his commitment to the club charity FC Bayern Hilfe eV.
Herr Hopfner, for 33 years you had your finger on the pulse at FC Bayern. What does your life look like today, six years after you left?
"First of all, FC Bayern will always be a part of my life, not least because I continue to be active as chairman of FC Bayern Hilfe eV. Away from FC Bayern, I'm still active in a supervisory board as well as an advisory board and am involved in two foundations on a voluntary basis. But there's still time for a round of golf now and then (smiles)."
In general, how much space does FC Bayern still occupy in your life today?
"For breakfast, I open my iPad and read all the Munich newspapers as well as the usual magazines dedicated to football. Then I also read an international press review that I get every day, which keeps me informed about what's happening in the world and at our club. The nice thing about my life situation is having the time to read. I enjoy it."
And if you read something about FC Bayern that bothers you, do you pick up your mobile and call Uli Hoeneß - or Säbener Straße?
"(Laughs ) No, certainly not. You have to be able to let go. Every now and then I catch myself thinking: I would have made one or two decisions the same way - or differently. That's normal. But basically, our successors Oliver Kahn, Jan Dreesen, Hasan Salihamidžić and Andy Jung with Herbert Hainer heading up the supervisory board are doing a very good job. I just follow everything now as a member and a fan."
How often do you still go to the Allianz Arena?
"I go to almost every home game. But I don't go to away games any more - I've seen all the stadiums in Germany and almost all the ones in Europe, so it's enough for me now to be at home watching on TV. As a spectator, I tremble with anticipation and get excited, just as I did when I was still involved in operational matters. There's not much difference, because even when I was in office, I always kept it that way, wanting to experience those 90 or 120 minutes in the stadium as a fan - I would never do the maths on the side, wondering about how much revenue there was, or what a goal for or against us would mean for our club."
You were born in Munich - have you always been an FC Bayern fan?
"I grew up in Munich's Au district. As children we fished for crayfish in the Auer Mühlbach urban river at Mariahilfplatz in the middle of the city, and I basically grew up in the Schyrenbad swimming pool. We used to turn the rubbish bins upside down and set them up as goals, and then we played barefoot. But my father mainly supported the Blues, so I was duty-bound to go with him to watch 1860 at the Grünwalder (Stadium). But at the latest from the time FC Bayern got promoted to the Bundesliga, I realised who played the better football. That's when I became a Red."
What kind of image do you have of the new FC Bayern, of the board of directors, supervisory board and executive committee?
"New people in charge means new ideas, which is good and important for development. I see FC Bayern on a good path for the future. The members and fans don't need to worry. It will be important to continue to put the club's values, tradition and family togetherness first."
What was the best time for you at FC Bayern: as managing director, as a member of the board or as president?
"It was all wonderful at its time. There's nothing better than success, and we've always had plenty of that at FC Bayern. But for me, successes off the pitch are also absolute highlights: the expansion of Säbener Straße with two new grass pitches and a new administration building, the transformation into a public limited company, the construction of the Allianz Arena and the FC Bayern Campus ... these are all things of value that remain. We've always decided and created all of this together, it's never been one person alone."
Why is your involvement as chairman of FC Bayern Hilfe eV so important to you?
"Anyone who has the possibility to donate something can consider themselves to be very fortunate - and can help those who are not so fortunate. FC Bayern Hilfe eV supports people and institutions who have found themselves in need through no fault of their own. Since we don't need an administrative apparatus, every cent goes directly to the beneficiaries. I can't thank our fans, members and all the people who donate enough."