Philipp Lahm’s announcement to the press yesterday that he not only would retire from professional soccer after the current season, but also not take the position of sporting director at Bayern Munich surprised and disappointed more than his own fans. Lahm also caught Bayern Munich’s front office by surprise.
As the club revealed in an official statement, Lahm and the club had been in discussions for months over his potential succession to Matthias Sammer as sporting director. Lahm then told the club last week, however, that he would neither see out his contract until 2018 nor join the management as sporting director.
The public announcement yesterday caught the front office completely by surprise, even Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness themselves. Rummenigge made this clear in the club’s statement in response, expressing some displeasure at Lahm’s unilateral announcement:
Until yesterday we assumed that there would be a joint announcement on this decision by Philipp Lahm and FC Bayern München.
Hoeness likewise was surprised. He told kicker, “[I wanted to] observe the rules of working together and calmly discuss how we would break this to the public. We had no interest in announcing it so early."
Hoeness went on to claim, "The surprise about the announcement is only a marginal detail for me. It doesn't change anything. Philipp Lahm has earned our profoundest respect." At least with Hoeness, Lahm has not burned his bridges behind him: Hoeness clearly is at pains to leave the door open for Lahm’s future with the club. But the damage, whatever it is, has been done.
Just as with his decision to retire from the German National Team, Lahm has insisted all along that his decision to end his career will be his own. In spontaneously announcing that decision to the public without the input of Bayern Munich, Lahm has asserted his ownership of his career. “Mia san mia” has its limits.