St Pauli saviour Hoeneß

Be successful, but never forget the weak

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The words in our headline also feature, perhaps paradoxically to those who don't know the club, in the FC Bayern Hall of Fame. This section of the Erlebniswelt, dedicated to the greatest players ever to pull on the famous red shirt, also includes a thorough examination of the club's eleven core values, the basis of Bayern's long and consistent principles and philosophy. “Be successful, but never forget the weak," is the first sentence in our definition of the value of Responsibility. In a history now stretching more than 110 years, there are countless examples of the club reaching out to the needy, but just one of those commands a special place in the story.

On the late afternoon of 12 July 2003, captains Holger Stanislawski and Oliver Kahn led out their teams at the venerable Millerntor Stadium in Hamburg, home to cult club St Pauli. Some 17 months earlier, mighty Bayern lost 2-1 to the rank outsiders in the Bundesliga, just weeks after FCB had come home with the Intercontinental Cup. In a message of greeting to Pauli in 2003, Uli Hoeneß recalled the very same match: “Our defeat in January 2002 as Champions League and Intercontinental Cup holders gave birth to the legendary phrase, Weltpokalsieger-Besieger (Conquerors of the World Club Cup winners). Being made a laughing stock hurt for a moment, but there was a really creative idea behind the gag. It was witty and not simply below the belt. The atmosphere at the Millerntor fascinates me anew every time."

Naturally, Hoeneß willingly came forward to help out in summer 2003, as the Hamburg club's fortunes had taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Following consecutive relegations, the club was down to the third tier of the game, but even that was not guaranteed due to a €2 million financing gap. Help was needed fast, and Pauli president Corny Littmann turned to Hoeneß.

Bayern duly travelled to the north for the fundraising match, but in totally different circumstances to the past, “when we were the target for everything imaginable, abuse, beer, coins, whatever," Hoeneß recalled. In July 2003, Bayern won the friendly match courtesy of a Paolo Guerrero goal, but the game itself was incidental. The revenue generated by the sell-out crowd enabled St Pauli to stave off a winding up order once and for all, and both sets of fans celebrated together deep into the night.

Ever since that momentous day, relations between the seemingly chalk-and cheese-clubs – the aristocrats from the south and the anarchistic rough boys from the Reeperbahn – have been transformed. “I really liked the way the St Pauli fans honoured our commitment. I sensed gratitude towards FC Bayern like seldom before," Hoeneß stated. On the occasions when Bayern step out at the much-renovated Millerntor, they are now greeted with respect and recognition.

And as it happens, Respect is another of the eleven values you'll find explained and examined in the special section of the FCB Erlebniswelt Hall of Fame.

Uli Hoeneß was quoted in "St. Pauli hat mich schon immer fasziniert", in St. Pauli unser, published by Julia Suchorski, Rowohlt Verlag, 2010