Bayern Munich’s and Germany’s legendary goalkeeper, Sepp Maier, turns 75 this week. He helped put both FC Bayern Munich and the German National Team on the map in the 1960s and 70s. In honor of his birthday, AZ gave a brief rundown of Maier’s career.
Sepp Maier is probably just as famous for his silly antics on and off the field as he is for his legendary play. The Germany goalkeeper was known for his knee-length shorts, wearing “Mickey Mouse-sized” gloves (which are now standard), and sniffing smokeless tobacco. He explained his snorting habit once in third person:
Sepp Maier has his own hobbies. Other people drink, other people smoke, and Sepp Maier snorts.
In 1974, at Munich’s Olympic Stadium, Maier once got bored during a game, when Bochum had hardly any chances at the Bayern goal at all. Luckily for him, a duck landed on the field. While the ball was down at the other end of the pitch, Maier began chasing the duck around. He even dived once in an attempt to catch it.
Maier himself says, “I am not a clown, but actually a serious person. When I want to, I can also be funny.”
It seems like the latter was more often the case. According to Uli Hoeneß, there were many more stories Maier’s antics. He once told a reporter that he could think of “many great stories with Sepp, but they can only be told in private.” Hoeneß also said that the Maier made the training ground “much funnier than today”. (It is hard for me to imagine how that could be possible with Thomas Müller at the club these days.)
Not only did Maier provide comic relief for the teams he played for, but he also brought immense success. Maier came to Bayern’s senior team while they were still in the second league. He played in 36 games the year that they earned promotion to the Bundesliga. As a player, he went on to win the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal four times each, while also being a part of the Golden Generation that won the European Cup (the predecessor to Champions League) three times. Maier only ever played for Bayern. Overall, the goalkeeper managed 473 games in the Bundesliga. His record 442 games in a row still stands today.
Maier was equally successful with his country. He came second and third in the World Cup before finally winning it in 1974. He also won the European Championships in 1972 and was runner-up four years later. He was also named one of FIFA’s top 100 players of all time, as well as Germany’s keeper of the century.
The xG on his highlight reel is off the charts!
After retirement, Maier went on to be a coach for Germany and later became the first goalkeeping coach in the Bundesliga. While with Germany he won yet another World Cup and European Championship and took second in both of those tournaments, as well. Bayern meanwhile was also very successful in the Bundesliga, the DFB-Pokal, and Champions League while he was there. At both positions he was able to mentor Oliver Kahn and help him develop him into the legendary keeper we remember him as today.
Oh, and you want to learn Bavarian? Well, here’s a start. A joke about two matches and a hedgehog: