The name Uli Hoeness is synonymous with Bayern Munich. From playing for the club during his career to holding the office of club president for the better part of a decade, he’s helped Bayern become what it is today as one of the world’s most successful football clubs and brands. He turned 70 today and former Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who played and worked alongside Hoeness for many years, honored his compatriot on the special occasion.
“Uli was always a strong opinion maker and a passionate fighter for the club. He always encouraged and challenged me, first as a teammate, then as a manager and finally in our joint responsibility for the club,” Rummenigge said (Abendzeitung). Hoeness is known for his outspoken boldness, as he’s never been someone to shy away from putting someone in their place, whether it be a pundit, player, press member, or anyone, for that matter, who speaks ill of Bayern Munich. The love for him amongst the Bayern community was typified in 2016 when he was re-elected president of the club after serving a prison sentence for tax evasion. He got overwhelming support during the re-election process, so much to the point that it had reduced him to tears when he was officially re-elected at Bayern’s annual general meeting at the Audi Dome that year.
It was at a young age during his playing career that Rummenigge said his relationship with Hoeness started to really take hold. “When I came to FC Bayern at the age of 18, in awe of the big names, he quickly became my roommate,” Rummenigge recalled. They played together at Bayern for roughly five years before Hoeness hung up his boots for good.
Even during their respective tenures as front office members and executive board members at Bayern, Hoeness and Rummenigge did not always see eye to eye on certain issues. They had their fare share of disagreements. Whether it was differing opinions on transfer targets, the 50+1 rule, managerial candidates, or anything else, Rummenigge said that the common ground between the two of them was always doing what’s ultimately best for the club. “Uli as a Swabian and I as a Westphalian have always agreed: ‘No marriage works without compromise. FC Bayern first’,” he explained. He said that the two of them, at times, have been “representatives of the Bavarian culture of controversy.”
Without Hoeness and his deeply rooted influence on the club, Rummeingge said he feels that Bayern would not have won so many titles “in their uniqueness and also in their independence as we experience them today.”