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The Cat from Anzing

Sepp Maier

Is he the best-known Bayern star in the world? Perhaps - but whatever the case, Josef-Dieter Maier, known the world over as 'Sepp' Maier, was one of the finest goalkeepers the world has ever seen. As a player, his knee-length shorts became his trademark,while nowadays it is the snuff-box he carries with him everywhere. What has not changed at all is Sepp Maier's reputation as a joker: 'I have a very positive attitude towards life, happiness and humour are the most important things to me. I soon manage to rid myself of anger,' he has said.

This attitude hepled him to bounce back quickly from the lowest point of his life in football, when a serious road accident ended his playing career in 1979 at the age of 35. He had already won practically everything there was to win in the game: the Bundesliga title (1969, 1972-1974), the DFB Cup (1966, 1967, 1969, 1971), the European Cup (1967, 1974-76) and the World Club Cup (1976). The crowning glory was a World Cup winners' medal in 1974.

The 'Cat from Anzing', as Maier was known, first stood between the sticks for Bayern in 1958. He completed a total of 473 Bundesliga appearances for the Munich club, including a run of 422 in a row, which is naturally a record. His performances were recognised with a number of honours: he was German Footballer of the year three times (1975, 1977, 1978), was awarded the national service medal in 1978, and is recognised as Germany's 'Keeper of the century'.

Maier never contemplated leaving Bayern. 'We were sucha strong team, perhaps the best Bayern side ever - why would I have wanted to move on? And we Bavarians are very firmly rooted, it's not easy to re-plant us elsewhere,' he said. True to his word, it is still possible to run across Maier at Bayern: he is a goalkeeping and youth coach at the club, passing on both his experience and his Bavarian sense of fun to a younger generation.

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