The creative midfielder, who is enjoying life at Bayern Munich, has revealed he has fully adapted to the playing style in Germany after making the switch from Barcelona and it’s “tika-taka” philosophy. Despite people often comparing Bayern’s possession-based style of play under Guardiola to the one at Thiago’s former club, the talented Spaniard claims he had to change his style of play in order to fit in at his new club. “I had to change my Barcelona style a bit when I got here,” the 22-year-old told TZ. “It’s a different type of football but that’s only improved me as a player.” Thiago also revealed he is having the best time of his career at Bayern. He added: “Some of my former Barcelona team-mates have already visited me here. I am feeling very well here and that’s what I’ve told them as well. “I didn’t have any expectations when I joined Bayern. I had never expected that everything would have been perfectly organised like this.” In a recent Bundesliga match against Eintracth Frankfurt, which Bayern convincingly won 5-0, he broke Bastian Schweinsteiger’s Bundesliga record of most touches in a match with 185. Though he insists it is more important to him to continue to fully adapt to his new club rather than the record itself.
I don’t really care about how many touches of the ball I get. What matters to me is that I understand my team-mates on the pitch. I am slowly starting to get to grips with how the guys are behaving in certain situations and where they want to receive the ball. That’s important to me.
Thiago’s ability to “play three, four, five positions” as Guardiola pointed out earlier in the season gives the head coach additional options in his current 4-1-4-1 formation, particularly with Bastian Schweinsteiger struggling with injuries this season. Bayern signed the Spanish international last summer and he has been in fine form this season notching up nine appearances in the Bundesliga to go along with two in the Champions League.
Sometimes life isn’t fair and the case of former Bayern Munich goalkeeper Raimond Aumann proves that theory. Even though he was a six-time Bundesliga champion with his club and a World Cup winner with his country in 1990, Aumann’s carer is mostly associated with only two matches – the one in Milan and the other in Belgrade.
How the competitive edge worked in Aumann’s favor
Raimond Aumann was born in Augsburg on October 12th 1963. Like most players do, he started his career at his local club called SV Stadtwerke Augsburg where he stayed until 1980. After a brief stay at FC Augsburg he would eventually transfer to Bayern Munich and play for the A-youth squad for two more years. Despite heavy competition from Manfred Müller, Walter Junghans and Belgian Jean-Marie Pfaffhe, he was promoted to the senior squad of Bayern in 1982.
In his first two seasons in the senior squad he served as a reserve goalie but after Junghans and Müller left it was between Aumann and Jean-Marie Pfaffhe to challenge each other for the number one spot.
The competition between the two goalkeepers got so heated that at one point they got into a fight at a training session in 1984. Aumann eventually got the better of the Belgian and was selected to the first team of Bayern. He made his Bundesliga debut on August 25th in a 3-1 victory at Bielefeld.
Injuries mean major misses
Aumann suffered a major setback in November of 1985 when he tore cruciate ligaments in his knee. Due to the injury he missed the entire season and lost his place in the starting eleven at Bayern to Pfaffhe again. Even though he was just a reserve behind Bodo Illgner, he was also forced to miss the World Cup 1986 in Mexico in which West Germany finished as runner-up.
After Aumann’s recovery from injury, Bayern again faced the same goalkeeper issue. In the summer of 1988, Pfaffhe decided to leave Bayern and Aumann was back at being the number one goalkeeper.
During his goalkeeper reign, Aumann was considered one of the best goalies in Germany. In the 1988/89 season, he set a new record of 17 matches without conceding a goal, a record which was broken by Oliver Kahn in 2002 with 19.
On September 6th 1989, he debuted for the senior team of West Germany in a 1-1 draw against Ireland. In the preparation for the World Cup 1990 in Italy, Aumann’s string of brilliant performances at Bayern started a discussion about him being the number one goalkeeper of the national team.
After his two gala performances in the semi-final of the European Champions Cup against Milan, he was considered by many to be a better choice than Bodo Illgner at the time. But nevertheless, he was selected to the World Cup squad as a reserve behind Illgner and won the gold with the West German team.
Due to a serious knee injury in 1991 and disagreements with the head coach of the German national team Berti Vogts he ended his international career after playing only 4 matches. Andreas Kopke took his place and became the new number 2 goalkeeper behind Illgner.
Major mistake and onto retirement
In that same year, Aumann made arguably the biggest mistake of his career. After losing 2-1 in the 1st semi-final leg of the European Champions Cup to Red Star, Bayern were up 2-1 in the away leg until Klaus Augenthaler scored an own goal in the 91st minute of the match which meant the Bavarians were eliminated. Aumann later confessed it was his mistake and took the blame for the own goal.
In 1994, after two years of being the captain of the team, Aumann decided to leave Bayern and join Turkish side Besikstas. He won the title with Besiktas in his first and only season with the team.
In November of 1995 he retired from football. He appeared in 216 Bundesliga matches for Bayern and became one of the best goalkeepers of the Bundesliga ever. In 1994 he was honored by being named the Goalkeeper of the Year in Germany.
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Alexander Zickler was born on February 28th 1974 in Bad Salzungen, Germany. He is a current football trainer and former German footballer most well known for playing as a striker at Bayern Munich.
Even though his career was slowed down by several injuries, including cancer, he is a great success story since his recovery in 2002. He has appeared in over 300 official matches for the Bavarians and won 19 major titles during his 12 years with the club.
The early successes of Zickler
Zickler starter his career at Dynamo Dresden after joining the club at only 6 years old.He would stay with Dynamo Dresden for 12 more years. He made his Bundesliga debut on October 23rd 1992, after coming on as a sub in a match against 1. FC Nürnberg. In his first Bundesliga season, he helped his club narrowly avoid relegation.
In the summer of 1993, Zickler moved to the German record champion club Bayern Munich for a fee of €1,1 million. At first he was only a reserve player, but Zickler rose through the ranks and made it to the first team in his second season.
His debut came on August 7th, 1993 against SC Freiburg in a Bundesliga fixture.
He proudly made his International Cup competition debut with Bayern against Twente In September of 1993. He took on the nickname of “Zico”, and enjoyed both highs and lows as a player in European competition.
He played a major role in Bayern’s UEFA Cup 1996 success with eight matches played and two assists.
Three years later came the lowest point of his career against Manchester United in the final of the Champions League.While it looked like a solid win, in almost an instant, the Red Devils shattered the dream of Bavaria with two last-minute goals to lift the trophy. Zickler played 71 minutes of the final.
Zico’s up and down career
Zickler made his international debut for Germany in November of 1998 in a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands. But between 1998 and 2002, he would only play in 12 matches for the Germans as various injuries stopped him from having any significant part in any major tournament for his country. His last international game was on October 11th, 2002 in a 1-1 draw against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In the 2000 and 2001 season, he scored his most important goal for Bayern. On the 33rd Round of the Bundesliga season, he scored the winning goal against 1. FC Kaiserslautern in the 90th minute. This was a critical play as it helped Bayern stay top of the Bundesliga and eventually lift the title.
Zickler also played a part in Bayerns 2001 Champions League success by converting on one of the penalties against Valencia in the shoot out.
After a fairy tale ending to the season with Bayern, Zickler’s injury woes started in the following year. He had to remove a tumor from his right shin after being diagnosed with cancer in 2002. Fortunately, he successfully recovered but was forced to miss the World Cup with Germany. After his recovery from cancer, Zickler suffered another setback with a break on the very same leg. Just a few days before the 2003/04 season, he suffered yet another shin break, which many believed put his career in serious jeopardy.
But Zickler bounced back and successfully overcame his injuries.He did losehis starting position at Bayern, which was the tipping point for him to move on.
Moving ahead for Zickler
In 2005, he signed a deal with Austrian side FC Red Bull Salzburg. Together with his former Bayern Munich teammate, Thomas Linke, he led the team to a 2nd place finish in the Austrian league with 9 goals in 31 matches. In the 2006/07 season he became the Austrian Player of Year. With 22 goals to his name, he led Salzburg to their first domestic title in 10 years.
After five season with Salzburg his contract was not extended. Zickler then moved to LASK Linz as a free agent where he would appear in 15 matches and score only one goal.
At the end of the 2010/2011 season he announced his retirement from football.
Zickler played in 384 matches during his career, 214 of those at Bayern Munich, and scored a total of 111 goals. He is currently employed as a assistant coach of the U-16 team at Red Bull Salzburg.
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Johannes Christian “Hans” Pflügler, born on March 27th 1960 in Freising, West Germany, is a former German footballer best known for playing left or central defender positions at Bayern Munich. Having spent his entire career with the Bavarian club he became one of the most successful players by winning eight major titles with the team. He was also part of the World Cup 1990 winning West German side.
Hans – the go-to Sub
Pflügler started his career at a local youth club called SV Vötting-Weihen where he stayed for 8 years. At the age of 15, in 1975, he moved to the youth department of Bayern Munich where he would stay the next six years before signing a professional contract.
His debut with the senior squad happened in the 6th Round of the Bundesliga season in an away match against Eintracht Braunschweig on September 12th 1981. They were defeated 3-1, but Hans was subbed in for Paul Breitner in the 56th minute. During the same month, he also made his European Cup debut in a 5-0 victory over Swedish side Östers IF.
After a couple of matches where he was subbed in, he soon became a automatic first team choice for the Bavarians. Most notably he played in all matches during the 1986/87 season in which Bayern reached the European Cup final and eventually lost to Porto. Pflügler described it as one of the biggest disappointments in his career.
Pflügler also played for the national team of Germany.
He made his debut on March 25th 1987 in a friendly match against Israel. After a decent string of performances he was called-up for the UEFA Euro 1988 West German squad. During the tournament, in which the Germans reached the semi-finals, he appeared on the bench in two matches but failed to play in both of them.
Hans’ Finishes with an Impressive Career
The highlight of Pflügler’s career came in 1990 at the World Cup in Italy. He was part of the West German side that won the World Cup for the first time in 16 years. He appeared in one match against Columbia on June 19th 1990 in Milan, in a match that finished 1-1.
After appearing in only 14 matches in the 1991/92 season he decided it was time to retire. However, a variety of injuries forced Bayern head coach Giovanni Trapattoni to call him up for a match in 1995 against Kaiserslauter on April 8th. Pflügler accepted the invitation and played his final match for the senior squad of Bayern Munich.
He continued on to play for the club’s amateur squad up until the 2001/02 when he was 42 years old, helping them finish in 10th place in the Regionalliga Süd. Overall in his career he played in 372 matches for Bayern Munich and scored 46 goals. He also made 11 appearances for the German national team.
Pflügler, who owns a engineer diploma, is currently employed at his former club in the merchandising department.
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Klaus Augenthaler, born on September 26th 1957 in Fürstenzell, West Germany is a former German professional footballer and currently a football manager. Playing as a classic Libero throughout his career, he enjoyed great success with Bayern Munich and the German national team. With seven Bundesliga titles to his name he is one of the most successful players in Bayern Munich history. He was also part of the World Cup 1990 champion German squad.
Klaus rising in the ranks
Augenthaler started his career at a local youth club FC Vilshofen at the age of seven. At the age of 18 Bayern Munich assistant manager Werner Olk brought him to the youth department of the Bavarian club where he would spend one year before being promoted to the Amateur squad. After spending a year with the Amateur team he was promoted to the professional team by head coach Gyula Lóránt.
He scored the leading goal against Borussia Dortmund, Bayern went on to win 3-0. Augenthaler was one of the major reasons for the victory.
Between 1975-1976 he was involved with the DFB Youth Selection and played a total of 11 games. He made his debut on October 15, 1975, in Trelleborg in a 1-1 draw against the youth selection of Sweden. After playing ten more matches and scoring three goals he was promoted to the “B” team where he would play 8 times after which he was promoted to the senior squad. His debut for the senior team happened on October 5, 1983 in a 3-0 victory over Austria in Gelsenkirchen.
He got the nickname “Auge” because of the meaning of his surname “the eye” in German which also described his ability to read the action before it happened from the center half and libero position. Augenthaler captained Bayern Munich for a period of 7 years and during that time he was Bayern’s main force in the defence.
Augenthaler’s big wins
The most memorable goal he scored was in 1989 in a match against Eintracht Frankfurt. After beating Frankfurt’s goalkeeper Uli Stein with a shot from the halfway line, the goal earned “Goal of the Season” as well as “Goal of the Decade” accolades.
Augenthaler’s finest moment came in 1990 at the World Cup in Italy as he was the member of the West Germany team that secured it’s first World Cup championship in 16 years. In the same year, he lifted his seventh Bundesliga trophy with Bayern which made him the most successful Bundesliga player of all time. His record stood until Oliver Kahn and Mehmet Scholl broke it with eight German championship titles to their name.
Although Bayern enjoyed success in the Bundesliga, the team has failed to win anything meaningful in Europe during Augenthaler’s time with the team. In 1982, they were narrowly beaten by Aston Villa 1-0 in the final the European Cup of Champions.
Five years later in 1987 against FC Porto, Augenthaler was forced to miss the final due to a suspension from the semi-final against Real Madrid. Without their main central defender Bayern lost 2-1.
Augenthaler’s final attempt at European glory ended in a tragic way. In the 2nd leg of the 1991 Semi-final of the European Cup, he scored an own goal against Red Star Belgrade in the 90th minute which resulted in Bayern’s elimination.
After playing in 404 matches for Bayern Munich and scoring 52 goals, he finally decided to hang up his boots in 1991. In the next 6 years he was assistant to a number of managers including Jupp Heynckes, Sören Lerby, Erich Ribbeck, Franz Beckenbauer, Giovanni Trapattoni and Otto Rehhagel. In 1996 he finished runner-up in the Bundesliga and won the UEFA Cup.
A call for coaching
On May 18th 1996, Augenthaler became the first ever Bundesliga coach to make 4 substitutions in a single match. While replacing head coach Franz Beckenbauer in a match against Düsseldorf, Augenthaler subbed in three players and replaced goalkeeper Michael Probst with Oliver Kahn. The match ended in a 2:2 draw and Bayern Munich escaped without a fine.
Ottmar Hitzfeld’s appointment as head coach of the team in 1998 resulted in Augenthaler’s departure from the team as he was convinced by the Bayern board to take a Head Coaching job somewhere else. He took over Austrian side Grazer AK and finished 3rd two times in his three year stay.
In 2000 he was appointed head coach of 1. FC Nürnberg and lead the team to Bundesliga promotion in his first season. However, he was sacked in 2003 after the club was facing relegation.
The following four years he was involved with two Bundesliga clubs – Bayer 04 Leverkusen and VfL Wolfsburg. In the two years spent with Leverkusen he managed a 3rd place position and a Champions League birth.
His time at Wolfisburg was marked by a press conference on May 10th, 2007 held before a Bundesliga match against Aachen. Augenthaler completely ignored reporters and answered four questions that he came up with. The press-conference ended after 42 seconds. Without much success, he left the team on May 19th, 2007 by mutual agreement.
Augenthaler’s latest job was with third division side SpVgg Unterhaching in 2010/11. After saving the club from relegation, his contract was not renewed at the end of the season.
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Josef Dieter Maier, known as Sepp, was born on February 28, 1944 in Bavaria. He is a former German legendary football goalkeeper.
Declared by many as the best German goalkeeper of all time, he was part of Bayern Munich’s golden generation which featured Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. A World Champion with West Germany in 1974, he collected 95 caps for his country and is the record holder among goalkeepers even today.
The makings of a goalkeeper
Maier actually started his career as an attacker at the local club of TSV Haar at the age of 8 years old. But after a “you’re the laziest, you’re the fattest – you go in goal” speech from his coach he switched positions and became a goalkeeper. And a legendary career was born.
In 1958, his family moved to Munich and Maier was tansferred to Bayern where, it turned out, he would spend his entire career and become one of the key players of the best generation in the history of Bayern.
He signed his first professional deal with the senior squad four years later.
At the start of the 1963/64 season, he replaced Fritz Kosar as the first team goalkeeper. With him as the goalkeeper, Bayern began their rise and were promoted to the Bundesliga in 1965.
Success with Bayern earned him a call up to the national team as he was selected as a back-up to Hans Tilkowski at the 1966 World Cup in England.
Maier finally became the goalkeeper of the national team at the World Cup in 1970, which took place in Mexico. After making several key saves and helping his country reach the semi-finals he was unable to stop the Italians in the legendary 4-3 defeat. He didn’t take part in the match for third place as Germany defeated Uruguay 1-0. Theyended up taking home the bronze medal.
Sepp’s rise to the top
The 1972 European Championship marked the start of the best years of Maier’s career. West Germany took their first ever European title after a convincing 3-0 win over the Soviet Union. It was the first and only European crown in Maier’s career, he also finished runner-up four years later as the defending champions West Germany lost on penalties to Czechoslovakia.
Two years later the Germans became the highlight of Maier’s career. West Germany hosted the World Cup and won their first title in 20 years with Maier playing one of the key roles in the success.
Maier’s international success was followed both by individual and club awards as well. Bayern won three straight European Cups (1974, 1975, 1976) in what was arguably the most successful decade in the club’s history. On a individual level, he was named European footballer of the Year three timesand was on paar with Italian Dino Zoff and Englishman Gordon Banks as the best goalkeeper in the World.
Often an entertainer on the field as well as a competitor, after his team was awarded a penalty in a match against Bochum, he celebrated by chasing a duck which inadvertently made it to the field. His agility and athleticism earned him the nickname “Die Katze von Anzing” which stands for “the Cat from Anzing”.
From a player to a coach
Initially he planned to play until the age of 40, but his career came to an abrupt end at the age of 35. In 1979, he was involved in a car accident in which he suffered several career-ending injuries. Prior to his injury he often joked he would “play with Franz [Beckenbaur] and Gerd [Müller] as long as they can push him on the pitch in a wheelchair” but the accident changed his plans for good. After he recovered from his injuries, he went on to become a Goalkeeper Coach both at Bayern and the German national team. He is also active as the ambassador for the German Jose Carreras Leukemia Foundation.
Maier’s football legacy was completed after he was named “German Goalkeeper of the Century” by the IFFHS.
He will forever be remembered for wearing his over-sized gloves as well as the silverware he collected during his almost 20 year career. He has made 536 appearances for Bayern Munich, as well as 442 consecutive
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Paul Breitner, born September 5th, 1951 in Kolbermoor, is a former German footballer and one of the most controversial players in German history. Nicknamed “Der Afro” he was well known for his partnership with Franz Beckenbauer and Berti Vogts in the defence of the German national team. Towards the end of his career he moved up to play a midfield role which brought him and his team tremendous results. He is one of only four players to have scored in two different World Cup final matches along with Pelé, Vavá and Zinédine Zidane.
Beginnings of ‘Der Afro’
Breitner started his career at the age of just 6 years old. During his school days he played for the youth team of SV-DJK Kolbenmoor. When he turned 10, he moved to ESV Freilassing where his father was a youth coach. His hard work and determination got him a call-up to the DFB youth team in 1968. During one of the learning courses he took while with the youth team, he met Uli Hoeneß with whom he developed a great friendship. On September 22nd 1968, he debuted for the youth squad in a 4-1 defeat to Yugoslavia.
His talents were noticed in 1970 after he graduated high school.
Along with his friends Uli Hoeneß and Rainer Zobel, he was called up by coach Udo Lattek to play for Bayern Munich. Soon after proving himself for coach Lattek he signed a professional deal. This meant he had to quit his college studies and focus on football. It turned out to be the right decision for Breitner as he made his first team debut on August 15th, 1970 in a 1-1 draw against VfB Stuttgart.
Bayern’s coach Udo Lattek thoughtvery highly of the talented Breitner and even used him on occasions as a striker despite him being a natural full-back. His energy and responsiveness combined with a powerful right foot shot made him a threat to opposing defenders. His frequent flank runs contributed heavily to his team’s offensive play.
At the end of the first season with Bayern, the club finished as runner-up in the Bundesliga but did win the German Cup 2-1 against 1. FC Köln.
The team consisting of players such as Franz Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier, Gerd Müller, Uli Hoeneß and Breitner himself was only getting started.
On the road to victory
In the following years, Bayern Munich enjoyed their biggest success in the history of the club.The 1970’s were the most productive decade in the clubs history.
Every one of the next three years (1972, 1973 and 1974), they were the undisputed champions of Germany.
On the international level, Breitner enjoyed success with Germany as well. He was part of what many call “the best German selection of all time”, known for their famous 3-1 victory over England at Wembley. After 18 years of waiting, the Germans finally won a major title as they defeated the Soviet Union 3-0 in the final of EURO 1972.
In the summer of 1974, West Germany hosted the World Cup in Munich and much was expected from the Helmut Schön led West Germans. Breitner enjoyed a fine start to the tournament as his long range shot secured a opening 1-0 victory against Chile. But after opening the tournament with a victory, the team struggled and after the historic 1-0 defeat to East Germany the team qualified as second in the group behind their rivals.
Playing alongside Franz Beckenbauer helped Breitner become one of the dominant players in defense. West Germany quickly recovered after the group stage and defeated Yugoslavia 2-0 in the second round with Breitner scoring his second goal of the tournament. A 4-2 win over Sweden in the final match of the second round meant that West Germany qualified for the final in which they faced the Netherlands.
In the final, Breitner showed great responsibility and stepped forward to take a penalty awarded for the Germans in the 25th minute. He converted and the Germans scored another and went on to win their first World Cup in 20 years. Later on Breitner himself admitted that he wasn’t intended as a shooter but took the shot anyway. For his heroics, he was regarded as one of the best players in the world during that time. At the age of just 22, he won every title a player could ever dream of winning.
Life after Bayern
After the World Cup, he transferred to Spanish giants Real Madrid, where the new coach, Miljan Miljanić, noticed Breitner at the tournament in Munich. Breitner came under harsh criticism because of the move as Spanish dictator Franco openly supported the club.
Together with Günter Netzer as the best players of the team, he won two Spanish championships (1975 and 1976), as well as a Spanish Cup in 1975. During his time in Madrid, he even starred in a not so successful German movie called “Potato Fritz”.
Breitner was often labelled as a obstructionist amongst the media because of his revolutionary behavior. His falling out with West Germany’s coach Helmut Schön after the World Cup made him retire from international football at the age of just 22.
Since Breitner moved to Madrid, the DFB issued a strict rule in which they were against call-ups for German foreign professionals. However, because of pressure from the public, Breitner returned to play two more games for the team in October of 1975 against Bulgaria and Greece. After the two matches were over Breitner decided not to play anymore for the national team. It would take him another six years to decide for a comeback to the team.
During those six years he was a columnist for the newspaper Bild and used every opportunity to critique the team and the DFB.
Back to Germany
Three years after joining Real Madrid, Breitner’s wife wanted to move back to Germany. He had a hard time finding a new club in the Bundesliga as nobody wanted to pay the expensive transfer fee which was around 1.6 million DM. But then, out of nowhere, German business man Günter Mast, who was the main sponsor of Eintracht Braunschweig at the time, provided the club with the required money to sign Breitner. The total cost of the transfer was around 1.6 million DM plus 400.000 DM for Breitner’s annual salary.
Switching from a worldwide famous club such as Real Madrid to a team which wasn’t known very well outside of Germany wasn’t easy for him. The superstar Breitner was considered hard to work with as he often clashed with teammates and coaches. In his first and only season with the team they finished 13th in the Bundesliga and, despite scoring 10 goals, he was considered a average player because of his team’s disappointing finish to the season.
Breitner, who had by now switched to a midfield position, returned to Bayern Munich in the coming summer.
The team found a new sponsor to fund the 1.75 million DM transfer and Breitner re-joined his longtime friend Uli Hoeneß. Bayern wasn’t the dominant force anymore as the team’s main players Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller both left the club and Uli Hoeneß was now in a management role with the club. A very ambitious Breitner set a goal to get the club back on top of the Bundesliga as he wanted to demonstrate his maturity by becoming the leader of his new club.
And, they’re back…
In his first season with the Bavarians, the team finished fourth – another conflict with head coach Gyula Lóránt followed, which resulted in his departure from the club in early 1979. The next season started with Bayern appointing Pál Csernai as their new coach who immediately gave Breitner the captains armband. He soon became the key player for the team as his playmaking skills comibed with striker Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s speed formed a deadly duo.
Bayern went on to win three straight Bundesliga titles and a German Cup in 1982. European success was denied by English side Aston Villa who defeated Bayern in the European Champions’ Cup final of ’82.
Joined by his Bayern Munich teammate Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, he decided to come out of international retirement and re-join the German national team in 1981. He was selected to the 1982 World Cup squad shortly after returning. The Germans made it all the way to the final with Breitner as their leader.
The most notable victory was in the semi-finals against France which was decided on penalty kicks. After the tiring semi-final match against France, the Germans simply ran out of energy for the final match against Italy. Breitner scored the team’s only goal in a 3-1 defeat making him only one of four players ever to score in two World Cup final matches.
Retiring on Top
After a season marked with injuries, Paul Breitner finally decided to retire from football in the summer of 1983. His last match came against Schalke 04 on May 28th 1983 in a 1-0 home defeat. He played in 369 matches during his career and scored 103 goals. He also collected 48 caps for the German national team and scored 10 goals. During his career, he won a total of seven league championships in West German and Spain.
He was also named both German and European Player of the Year in 1981.
Breitner’s post-football career will be remembered by the “17 Hours Bundestrainer” incident which took place in 1998. DFB president Egidius Braun appointed him as the new coach for the national team but after getting criticised from other association officials he changed his mind just 17 hours later.
In March of 2007, he signed a contract with Bayern Munich and became a advisor for the club. As of today he works as a TV pundit and newspaper columnist. He still plays on special occasions for the Bayern Munich All-Star team.
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Franz Beckenbauer, nicknamed “Der Kaiser” is one of the most important figures in the history of German football. Born in Munich on September 11th 1945, Beckenbauer is hailed by many as the greatest German footballer of all time.
Growing up wasn’t easy for Franz as his country was on it’s knees after the second World War finished. His career started at the young age of just nine years old in the youth team of SC Munich ’06 in 1954. In that same year the “Miracle of Bern” happened, West Germany won it’s first ever World Cup after coming back from two goals down in the final against Hungary. Beckenbauer described it as “magical” and pointed out that it played a huge part in his desire to continue playing football at his young age. Early on in his career Beckenbauer played a attacking role and idolized 1860 Kaiserslautern’s attacker Fritz Walter.
At the age of 13 the team he was playing for decided to disolve their youth. Coincidentally one of the last matches they played was against 1860 Munich. During the match one of the players from 1860 Munich who was marking Beckenbauer at the time punched him in the face. After the match he told his teammates they could all go to 1860 Munich but he was going to Bayern instead. His teammates decided to join him at Bayern as well.
After switching to Bayern Munich, Beckenbauer went quickly through the youth ranks and made it to the first team. In just his first season (1964-65) with the club they managed to gain promotion to the Bundesliga. Beckenbauer’s stellar performances didn’t go unnoticed as he was called up to play for the national side at the age of 20 years old. Then West Germany’s national team head coach Helmut Schön took a bit of a risk for inviting him to the team. But soon afterwards the critics accepted him as a part of the team as West Germany qualified for the 1966 World Cup in England with Beckenbauer playing a big role in the success.
Beckenbauer’s World Cup debut came against Switzerland as he scored twice in a 5-0 win in West Germany’s first match of the tournament. Dominating the group West Germany went through as the winner and faced Uruguay in the Quarter-Finals. Beckenbauer was fast becoming the star of the tournament. The South Americans didn’t pose a threat to the Germans as they won 4-0 to go through to the next round and face USSR in the semi’s. Beckenbauer played one of his best games of the tournament against the Soviets as he helped his side advance to the finals with his fourth goal of the tournament. In the final the Germans were up against the host England, the match ended up going into extra time and England eventually won. The match would go down as one of most exciting and controversial ever played in a World Cup. Beckenbauer finished the tournament tied for 3rd place on the scoring list despite playing a defensive role for his country.
After the tournament in England ended Beckenbauer’s reputation changed dramatically. He was given the captain’s armband at Bayern as he led the team to the Bundesliga title and won the “German Player of the Year” award. He completely revolutionized how the game of football was played by introducing a new position called “libero”. Scoring goals from this position, developing the play of his team and creating chances is what he did. His teammates were always full of respect for Franz and in 1968 his stellar play earned him the nickname “Der Kaiser” (The Emperor). To this day there is no official version on how he got the nickname. Beckenbauer told the story of how the nickname happened. He said the media gave him the nickname after he posed beside a bust of the former Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I. At first he was called “Fußball-Kaiser” but soon afterwards it was shortened to just “Der Kaiser”.
The 1970 World Cup, which was played in Mexico, was also a successful one for Der Kaiser and his team as they finished third after a 1-0 victory over Uruguay. The most memorable match of the tournament was the semi-final showdown between West German and Italy which was labelled as “The Game of the Century”. During the match Beckenbauer dislocated his shoulder after a hard foul by the Italians. Since the Germans used both of their substitutions earlier in the match he was forced to stay on the pitch and carry his shoulder in a sling. The match went into extra time with the Italians winning 4-3 in the end.
Undoubtedly the biggest success of Beckenbauer’s career was the World Cup 1974 held in his homeland West Germany. The Germans upset then heavily favored Holland and Beckenbauer played a huge role in stopping their famous “Total Football” leading his team to a 2-1 victory in the final.
After winning three straight Bundesliga titles with Bayern, Beckenbauer and his team were ready to become a international force. The domination in Europe started with a convincing 4-0 victory over Atletico Madrid in 1974 as Bayern won their first ever European crown. The following year Bayern won again, this time in the final 2-0 against English side Leeds United. The hat-trick of European titles was completed in 1976 as Bayern made it to the final for the third consecutive time. This time they faced French side Saint-Étienne and won 1-0 which enabled Beckenbauer to lift the trophy for a record third straight time. To this day many of the Bayern greats say the 70s was the most successful era in the history of the club.
In the same year (1976) Germany reached the final of the European Championship which was held in Yugoslavia. Beating the host country 2-1 in the semi-final the Germans were on their way to retain the title they won 4 years earlier. In the final they faced a Czechoslovakia side and were the favorites to win it. However the match finished 1-1 and it went to penalties with Czechoslovakia winning in the end on a memorable goal from the spot by Antonín Panenka. It was Beckenbauer’s last big tournament on the international scene as he decided to retire from international football. He played a total of 103 games for his country and scored 14 goals in the process.
Soon after retiring from international football Beckenbauer decided to leave Bayern as well. Later in the years he explained how he simply “got fed up with the Bundesliga and lost the motivation to play in it”. He decided to play in the North American Soccer League as he joined the New York Cosmos in 1977. Beckenbauer joined a number of stars in New York, including Brazilian forward Pele and former Brazil Captain Carlos Alberto. His impact was instant as he helped The Cosmos to three Soccer Bowl titles in just four seasons with the club. After a two year deal with Hamburger SV and one Bundesliga title he returned for a brief campaign to New York where he eventually retired. He played in 587 matches in his career and scored 81 goals.
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Gerd Müller nicknamed “Der Bomber” is a former German International footballer and is rated as one of the most prolific goalscorers the sport has ever seen. Holding a record of 68 goals scored in 62 appearances for his country, as of today he is rated as the 8th player of all time in the “International goalscorers” category despite playing fewer games than any other player in the top 15. Playing for his club Bayern Munich, Müller scored 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga matches helping the Bavarians to win 4 Bundesliga titles in the late 60’s and early 70’s. During his reign at Bayern as the best striker he also won three consecutive European Champions’ Cup in 1974, 1975 and 1976.
But it wasn’t all bread and butter at the start of his career. Müller, who was born in 1945 just after the second World War ended, was highly inspired by his countries 1954 World Cup win in Bern, Switzerland. Then called “West Germany” came from two goals down in the final to defeat Hungary 3:2 to win their first ever title. Supporting his childhood club Nürnberg, Müller hoped to one day get a chance to play for the club but the approach was never made. Instead Müller got a chance to play TSV 1861 Nördlingen.
After scoring a incredible 51 goals in 31 matches for Nördlingen the big clubs finally started to look at Müller. Finally in 1964 FC Bayern Munich signed the young striker. Müller was a influence right from the start and after just one season his club gained promotion to the Bundesliga. The Coach at the time was very critical of Müller’s phisice as he thought the player was too small and weighed too much so he gave him the nickname “Short Fat Müller”. But as time progressed the coach began to have more faith in him. As soon as Müller started playing in more friendly matches from the start he began scoring more goals. The old nickname gave way to a new one “Der Bomber”. Müller’s reputation changed dramatically in the football World which helped him win his first major individual award “European Footballer of the Year” in 1970. In the same year Müller helped West Germany to a third place in the World Cup played in Mexico winning the Golden Boot in the process by scoring 10 goals.
The highlight of Müller’s career was undoubtedly the World Cup in 1974 which was played in his homeland of Germany. Scoring 4 goals in the tournament he helped his nation win the World Cup and he became the most prolific scorer in the history of World Cups. That record stood until 2006 when it was broken by Brazillian striker Ronaldo who played in one more tournament than the German.
After his playing days Müller had severe problems with alcoholism but he went through alcohol rehabilitation after his friends at Bayern convinced him to do so. After the process was over he got a job with his former club where he works today as a coach. In the year 2000 Müller was awarded the “World Football’s Greatest Goalscorer of All Time” award.
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