5 legendary Effenberg moments
Stefan Effenberg's history at FC Bayern is a colourful, vibrant, dazzling and exciting one. The memories of it are legendary. Now, at 54, the "Tiger" is back and a new ambassador, because the values he stood for on the pitch still hold true today: Never give up, keep going, straight ahead. Through him, they are embodied to the outside world. With his inimitable manner as "Cheffe" (boss), he shaped the successful era under coach Ottmar Hitzfeld from 1998 to 2002 and not only won the last-minute championship in 2001, but also, sensationally, the Champions League and the Club World Cup.
fcbayern.com takes a look back at five of Effenberg's legendary Bayern moments:
From "Effe" to "Cheffe"
His first spell as a player at FC Bayern from 1990 to 1992 was rather difficult in sporting terms. Before Effenberg left for Fiorentina, FCB only managed a tenth-placed finish in the league. But the fact that Bayern and Effenberg were actually a good match was confirmed in impressive style in 1998 when he returned to Säbener Straße from Borussia Mönchengladbach. Under Hitzfeld, he was allowed to fully flourish in central midfield. "Effe" became "Cheffe". He was the driving force, and aggressive when he had to be. He led the team, with his teammates following his example. He never shied away from a tackle. This is one of the reasons why he holds the Bundesliga record for the most cautioned player. In 370 games, Effenberg saw 114 yellow cards. In addition to his skills as a sweeper, his passing qualities and the courage he showed in always being willing to take a shot were also outstanding. The Bavarians won three straight Bundesliga titles (1999 to 2001). In retrospect, this period marked the beginning of an era of dominance after less successful years. When the FCB fans craved trophies, Effenberg delivered. His will to win was infectious, he swept his team along when it really mattered. "When others are looking for a hiding place, that's when Effenberg steps forward," Hitzfeld once said about him.
Just a press conference, friends of the sun
It was unforgettable and achieved worldwide notoriety: the press conference. Effenberg stepped out in front of the journalists in the old "Presse-Stüberl" on Säbener Straße wearing a Bayern jumper and wagging his finger. He had come under heavy criticism from the media in November 1999. And this time the "Tiger" extended his claws off the pitch: "Stefan Effenberg will not break. All you ever write is: 'Effenberg only plays with the handbrake applied', or something like that. What a load of rubbish," he said, among other things, and added threateningly that you should be careful with what you say, what you write and how you put it across, "because I'm someone who doesn't put up with that. Friends of the sun." It fitted perfectly with the image of the uncompromising Bayern frontman.
The great drama of Barcelona
They're painful memories, but no great career is complete without major setbacks. For almost 90 minutes, everything had pointed to a triumph in the Champions League final against Manchester United at Camp Nou. And then Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer popped up with late, late goals. In 102 seconds the game was turned on its head and United had won 2-1. Effenberg, like his teammates, slumped to the turf. After all the drama, Effenberg had to take a doping test. He was walking through the catacombs and suddenly saw David Beckham with the cup in his hands. "I will never forget that image for the rest of my life. The lights went out, it was almost dark - and seven or eight metres in front of me, Beckham's walking along with the cup. That's when I vowed to myself. I'm going to get that thing!" he recalled. It's a sign of strength to draw motivation and strength from defeats, to learn from them and to focus on your goals again. Effenberg managed to do that. "I said: I assume l'll get another chance like this during my lifetime. And then no one will take this trophy away from us! That was my way of coming to terms with the defeat." The rest is well documented.
The triumph in San Siro and the tackle that said it all
The next opportunity for Effenberg and FC Bayern to lift the trophy came swiftly, on 23 May 2001 in Milan against Valencia. Anyone who still harboured any doubts about how serious FCB were again this time was proved wrong right at the start of the match. "Effe" dispossessed the Spaniard Gaizka Mendieta, who had given Valencia the lead with a penalty after two minutes, with a truly commanding tackle. Effenberg himself levelled the score - also with a penalty kick - in the 50th minute. His example continued to have an effect in extra time and in the penalty shoot-out. Oliver Kahn surpassed himself. Afterwards, there was sheer relief. Effenberg knows: "If we had won in 1999, it wouldn't have worked out in 2001. We would have been satisfied. So that defeat was also a good thing."
Blowing kisses to the BVB fans
Effenberg had a polarising effect. The Bayern fans loved him, and away from home the headwind from the stands sometimes blew violently in his face. But it would be a lie to say that "Effe" didn't enjoy it a little bit. He was also able to turn the sound of fans whistling into motivation. On 7 April 2001 in the match against BVB in Dortmund (final score 1-1), they were deafeningly loud. The atmosphere on the pitch was heated - and Effenberg was right in the thick of the action. In the end, it became the most carded match in Bundesliga history (13). The only Bayern players to finish the game without a caution were Patrick Andersson and Roque Santa Cruz. "Effe" had already been shown the red in the 55th minute, and as he walked off the pitch towards the dressing room, he blew kisses to the BVB fans. More than 60,000 fans against one man, but Effenberg stayed true to his alpha-male persona. It was this straightforwardness for which the Bayern fans adored him. He never allowed anyone to make him deviate from it when it came to football.