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Glory Days

Interview: Daniel Martinez (sms)March 2, 2008

Former German national team player and World Cup winner Paul Breitner, now a consultant for Bayern Munich, told DW-WORLD.DE about the future prospects of the team that has won more titles than any other in Germany.

Members of the 2005 Bayern team lift the German Cup
Bayern fans are one step closer to having something to celebrateImage: dpa

Paul Breitner spent most of his professional soccer career, which lasted from 1970 to 1983, at Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. A member of the 1974 World Cup and 1972 European Championships winning teams, many experts see him as among the top midfielders of his day.

This interview took place prior to Bayern Munich's 1-0 win over Munich 1860 in the German Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday, Feb. 27.. The game was decided by a Franck Ribery penalty kick in the last minute of extra time.

DW-WORLD.DE: Mr. Breitner, are you and the directors of FC Bayern Munich satisfied with the way the season, both domestically and internationally, has been going?

Paul Breitner in 1974
In his days as a player, Breitner was easily recognized from anywhere on the fieldImage: PA/dpa

Paul Breitner: Yes, we're very satisfied, especially with our participation in the UEFA Cup. We're also at the top of the Bundesliga table. Everything is going well.

Still, there are always reports coming out of Munich about troubles, discussions and internal problems...

No! That's simply not the case -- not for the club management and not for the team. We almost never find out where these reports come from. Bayern Munich attracts a lot of attention, and a lot of people make what could happen there their business. If months go by without anything happening then someone comes up with the idea that something is in the works. Here in the team we've learned how to live with stories that don't exist.

Has Bayern moved beyond local, domestic soccer to an international or global level?

None of the world's leading clubs have a local mentality. Take Arsenal London as an example: The team played its last Champions League match with 11 foreign players -- not a single Englishman. That's become normal for other big teams in England like Chelsea and Liverpool, which put seven or eight foreigners on the field. In other parts of Europe it's the same. The local mentality has been passe for six or seven years.

When it comes to fielding an international team, Bayern Munich has had some problems with South American players like Julio dos Santos, Roque Santa Cruz and even Martin Demichelis, who after five years in Germany is just starting to meet expectations.

Paul Breitner in 2004
Since retiring, he's toned down his appearance

But maybe this wasn't their problem, but one of development as players. These days Martin Demichelis is an important part of the Bayern team and a member of the Argentine national squad. It's not unusual for two South American players out of six, seven or eight to perform below expectations. We're currently very happy with our Latin American players like Ze Roberto and Lucio, and we expect big things from Jose Sosa. Times are very good for our players from Argentina and Brazil.

Are players like Sosa and new Brazilian arrival Breno a sign of what's to come in the future for Bayern?

Of course. We don't want to buy just 27 or 28-year-old players with experience in the Bundesliga or other European leagues. We've turned around our transfer policy. That's why we've signed so many very young players in the past few months. Sosa is a good example. We have big expectations for him because he has a lot of talent. He's working on getting back into the rhythm of playing after being out injured for six months. We've put a lot of confidence in him as well as Breno -- one of the best players his age whom I've seen in the last 15 years. They're players with bright futures for the coming season and the coming years.

Are you planning for a model like Arsenal's, where the average age is under 26?

No, we can't and don't want to take the same road as Arsenal. Over there players are bought in groups of 10 or 15 at a time. We don't have that much money available and can't spend those kinds of enormous sums. Arsenal have their way, and we have ours. When we need two or three players we'll look for them and that's it.

Is Bayern Munich in store for a big shake-up in July when Juergen Klinsmann takes over as coach or will the team continue the way it has in the past?

Juergen Klinsmann
Klinsi is taking over the controls at Bayern at the end of the seasonImage: AP

No, we started with the big shake-up 12 months ago in the spring of 2007 when we bought eight new players, including Franck Ribery, Miroslav Klose, Ze Roberto and Luca Toni. That was an uncommon situation. Now we have a solid team and no new acquisitions are necessary. Maybe two or three players who can contribute something positive, but not as much as before -- Bayern don't need it anymore.

There is still speculation that the new coaching staff is going to make some dramatic changes.

Sorry, but I can't and don't want to talk about that. Until June 30, our coach's name is Ottmar Hitzfeld. It wouldn't be appropriate to talk about what Juergen Klinsmann might change in the club management or the team. That's all for the future.

Then what can we expect from the team before the end of this season?

We don't exactly know. Bayern Munich doesn't have 70 or 80 million euros to spend every year -- that's money we've already spent. Now we have to wait to see how many titles we can win. Then, as of July 1, we'll have a new coach and that will put us in a very different situation, so we have to keep things calm. We are very, very pleased and very confident that the winning days of Munich are returning -- the days when we used to play in the Champions League every year.

Do you and the Bayern directors feel like you've acted in a way that ensures the team's successful future?

We are convinced that everything is going to end with a lot of success for the team. Personally, I think that Bayern is going to again be one of the three most important soccer clubs in the world.