Bayern's all-time greatest XI
Goalkeeper Sepp Maier missed only 3 games in a 13-year career
Franz Beckenbauer's imperious style earned him the nickname Der Kaiser
Teammates attribute much of Bayern's success to striker Gerd Muller
In the inner sanctum of the Bayern Munich players' quarters, on a wall next to the communal dining areas, there's a giant black-white picture with photos and red letters. They spell out the clubs unofficial mantra Mia san Mia (We are who we are) and a number of its defining ideals. Full of confidence, loyal, technically brilliant, innovative, effective, focused, attacking, tactically flexible. In between those big words there are snap shots of 11 men who don't need any names or introduction, Bayern's all-star team:
Die Katze von Anzing (the cat of Anzing) was Bayern's No. 1 keeper from 1962-1979. Maier, one of the first players to experiment with plastic gloves, played an incredible 442 Bundesliga games in a row for the Reds and only missed three league games (in 1965/66) in 13 years in the top flight. He won three European Cups, one Cup Winners Cup, eight domestic trophies and both major honors with West Germany. Maier, who was renown as much for his pranks as his goal-line artistry, returned to work as a goalkeeping coach in the Nineties.
The club's greatest ever player and Germany's soccer demigod was set to sign for rivals TSV 1860 Munich as a youngster. But in a youth tournament game with his local team SC 1906, the 13-year-old Beckenbauer got into an argument with 1860s Gerhard Knig, who slapped the prodigious midfielder in the face -- Beckenbauer signed for Bayern instead. The son of a postal worker made his debut at 18 and quickly established himself as an international star with West Germany, too. In a time when man-marking was the norm, Beckenbauer found space and time as a Libero (Italian for free man), a deep-lying sweeper-cum- playmaker behind the defense. Beckenbauer's effortless, imperious style earned him the nickname Der Kaiser. He won every single possible title between 1964 and 1977, returned for two short, successful spells as interim manager and held the presidency from 1994 to 2009.
A Dutch TV commentator once memorably described the gruff center back as half man, half bull. Katsche Schwarzenbeck was responsible for less glamorous stuff, namely mopping up behind Beckenbauer in the Sixties and Seventies. But he owes his place in the Parthenon of All-Time-Greats to a rare goal in 1974: Schwarzenbecks sensational 25-meter strike in the final minute of extra time in the European Cup final vs. Atletico Madrid in Brussels forced a replay that Bayern won 4-0. This marked the beginning of an extraordinary era that culminated with a third consecutive European Cup triumph in 1976.
Munich's second great libero after Beckenbauer was the mainstay of the successful Eighties team. Auge (Eye), as they called him, was a no-nonsense tackler with a fierce shot and a great passing range. He also scored the goal of the decade in 1989, when his shot from the halfway line caught out Eintracht Frankfurt keeper Uli Stein. He only ever played for Bayern professionally and won, among other things, seven championships.
Diminutive left back Liza is the only foreigner in Bayern's Best XI. The French World Cup and European Championship was a firm crowd favorite in eight seasons at Bayern (1997 2004, 2005/06) and instrumental in changing Bayern's traditional Libero system to a modern four at the back. His arrival from Athletic Bilbao coincided with Bayern's re-emergence on the European scene.
The son of a Swabian butcher was a devilishly fast winger with a keen eye for goal. Hoeness scored 86 times in 239 league games and chipped in with important strikes on the way to Bayern's first European Cup win in 1974. After a knee injury forced him to retire prematurely at 27 years, the business-savvy Hoeness became general manager of the club in 1979. In his 30 years at the helm, the Bavarians were transformed into one of Europe's richest clubs. November 2009 saw him move upstairs to the less influential role of president but Bayern remain FC Hoeness to all intents and purposes to this day.
In his first four seasons in the Olympiastadion, the Erlangen-born box-to-box tyro developed into a genuine world-class player. Internazionale bought him for the equivalent of 4.2 million pounds ($6.7M) in 1988. After winning the World Cup in 1990, Matthus returned to Munich two years later and soon grew into his new role as sweeper. Germany's most-capped international (150) amassed seven championships but notoriously asked manager Ottmar Hitzfeld to substitute him five minutes before the end of the 1999 Champions League final against Manchester United (1-2), when Bayern were still 1-0 up. He played his last game for Bayerrn in March 2000, at nearly 39 years of age.
Effe was every bit as brash, arrogant and egocentric as Matthaus -- and just as gifted. The big, powerful midfielder fell out with coach Jupp Heynckes during his first spell in the Bavarian capital (1990-1992) -- he famously threatened to go outside with him during a teamtalk and was equally prickly upon his return (1998-2002). Effenberg's vision and leadership qualities were key in getting Bayern to the traumatic 1999 Champions League final. Alongside keeper Oliver Kahn, he epitomized the determination and never-say-die-attitude that helped win Bayern's fourth European Cup two years later.
The Seventies were a time of political upheaval in West Germany. Countercultural sideburns and rebellious posturing became de rigeur for footballers, but no one took it quite as far (to the left) Breitner. The Afro-wearing left back, who had escaped army conscription by hiding in the cellar as a youngster, brought Mao Tse Tung's Little Red Book to training, and posed with a propaganda newspaper from Beijing in a rocking chair. Breitner reveled in his image as revolutionary but had no quarrels switching sides when he was afforded a lucrative move to Francoist Real Madrid in the wake of the 1974 World Cup win. He came back in 1978 as a central midfielder and struck up a telepathic partnership with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Bayern were dominated by the great Breitnigge duo until 1983.
Without Gerd Muller, Bayern would have never had this much success. "We owe him everything," his former teammates Beckenbauer and Hoeness said last week, when Der Bomber celebrated his 65th birthday. The stocky, bulky striker was belittled as a weightlifter by his first Bayern coach Tschik Cajkovski but his opinion soon changed: Muller had knack of scoring nonstop from impossible angles, with all possible body-parts. His record of 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga games (1965-1979) is unlikely to be surpassed. The shy, introvert World Cup winner had difficulties dealing with retirement after a spell at Fort Lauderdale. He was brought back into the fold in 1992, when Hoeness appointed him as a youth coach.
Bayern's current CEO (nickname: Kalle) spent a decade (1974-1984) at the club that saw two great sides emerge. As a young and nervous man, he was a somewhat peripheral figure in the early triumphs. The man from Lippstadt in Westphalia really came into his own in the 1979/80 season, however, when his 26 goals led Bayern to its first Bundesliga title in six year. Rummenigge, probably the most technically gifted attacker West Germany ever produced, was voted European Footballer of the Year in 1980 and 1981. His 5.25 million pounds ($8.4M) transfer to Internazionale in 1984 consolidated heavily-indebted Bayerns financial position at the time, and he returned in 1992 as vice president to oversee another decade of success.
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