Uli Hoeneß is a villain to many. People who dislike FC Bayern Munich -- and despite record fan numbers, there are plenty of those -- have always hated the one person most identifiable with the club and its rise to domination of German football. Then there are those who can't stand rich people who try to avoid paying their taxes.
But one thing none of them can deny is that the former Bayern player, manager and president has a long and rich history of charitable work. And his current troubles haven't slowed him down in that department.
As Peter Höß the mayor of Bad Wiessee (a town on the beautiful Tegernsee, a 45-minute car ride south of Munich, where Hoeneß keeps his main residence) revealed at a New Year's Eve reception, Hoeneß and his wife Susi hosted about 30 Syrian and Afghan youths on Christmas Eve at the local golf club, including a dinner of Hendl and Pommes (also known as rotisserie chicken and fries). The three-hour party included presents for the young attendees in the form of FC Bayern paraphernalia including balls, warm-up suits, hats, scarves and bags.
As Höß noted, Bad Wiessee should be really proud of the solidarity shown by Hoeneß for the refugees. It is also noteworthy that it appears that the Bayern legend did not intend to derive publicity from the gesture. The beans were spilled a week later, and there were no photo ops at the actual event.
This followed another report that shortly before Christmas, Hoeneß had called in to a local radio show that was raising money for a charity. He spontaneously donated €10,000 to the cause, saying it was enough of a gift for him to be able to spend time at home with his family, so he was giving the money away in lieu of buying presents for himself and his wife.
Whether he returns to a prominent position at the club, after his announced early release, is still up in the air. But there seems to be little doubt that he is already back to his giving ways and stories like these make it really hard to hold a grudge against this gruff, yet loveable, man.