Home / Spotlight On FC Bayern Munich, Legends Of German And European Football

Spotlight On FC Bayern Munich, Legends Of German And European Football

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Following our look at Benfica last week, Euroscore’s second article about a top European team takes us to Munich in Bavaria. With all due respect to the second team in Munich, TSV 1860, it’s Bayern, that we look at today.

Formed in 1900 Bayern Munich have won a record 21 German titles and the most German cups, 14 in total. They have also won a record six German League Cups. In Europe they have won the European Cup (Champions League) on four occasions. However it is their list of famous players that really grabs the attention.

Bayern’s first German National championship after the First World War came in 1932. However any progress came to an abrupt end when war was declared in 1939. Both the President and the coach of Bayern were Jewish and were forced to leave the country.

After the war Bayern went into a developmental stage. In 1955 they won the German Cup for the first time beating Fortuna Dusseldorf 1-0. But by the end of the '50s Bayern were in financial difficulties. Quite simply success had to be achieved in order to sustain the club. Little did anyone know that FC Bayern would go on to become one of the major European football powers.

In 1963 the Bundesliga was formed but it was Munich rivals 1860 that won membership ahead of Bayern. In 1965 Bayern’s time had come and they were allowed to compete in the Bundesliga. The team was led by the legend that is Franz Beckenbauer. A year later he would lead the then West Germany in the World Cup final in, and against, England.

In their first year in the Bundesliga Bayern finished third but won the German Cup. As a result they appeared in the following years European Cup Winners Cup competition which they won beating Glasgow Rangers 1-0. Their first league and cup double was achieved shortly after.

It was the '70s that saw Bayern achieve the levels of success that they had been threatening. In 1970 the German Cup was added and when Bayern moved to the newly built Olympic Stadium in 1972 they duly celebrated winning the championship by beating Schalke 5-1. This set the standard and Bayern won the next two domestic championships.

Their first European Cup victory came when they destroyed Atletico Madrid 4-0 in a replayed final. They added their second European Cup by beating Leeds United in Paris 2-0 with goals from Franz Roth and Gerd Muller. The next year Bayern became only the third team to win three consecutive European Cups when they beat St. Etienne of France in Glasgow.

An exodus of star players saw Franz Beckenbauer leave for New York Cosmos, Gerd Muller join Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Sepp Maier and Uli Hoeness retire. A resurgence occurred when Bayern, who now included German International stars Paul Breitner and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, won the Bundesliga in both 1980 and 1981.

Five championships on the trot followed in the late eighties including a league and cup double in 1986. In both 1982 and 1987 they attempted to add to their European Cup total but lost both finals. By now such was their level of success that second place was often considered as a failure.

However following two championships in 1989 and 1990 they suffered a severe dip in fortunes. In 1991 they were back in second but the following year were nearly relegated finishing a narrow five points from the unthinkable drop. Success returned when Franz Beckenbauer came back as coach in 1994 and duly delivered their first championship in four years.

Big name managers followed but failed to add to the trophy cabinet. It was Beckenbauer’s returning influence, again as manager, that quickly added the UEFA Cup in 1996 when they beat France's Bordeaux.

Italian Giovanni Trapattoni delivered the league title again in 1997. In 1998 his replacement Ottmar Hitzfeld guided Bayern to the Bundesliga crown and the Champions League final. With a couple of minutes remaining they were beating Manchester United 1-0 but dramatically leaked two goals and somehow lost.

In 2000 they added their third league and cup double. In 2001 they won their third consecutive domestic title. Further glory followed when they capped the season winning the European League (Champions League) for the first time in 25 years beating Valencia from Spain in the final after a penalty shoot out.

In 2003 Bayern won their 4th double. When Felix Magath took over he added to this total winning two more on the trot. In 2005 Bayern left the Olympic Stadium and moved to the highly impressive Allianz Arena Stadium. It was not a happy time though and following Magath’s departure returning coach Ottmar Hitzfeld could only achieve a 4th position. As a consequence they failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in ten years. It was time to rebuild.

Recent events have seen the addition of star players Luca Toni, signed from Fiorentina, Franck Ribery who arrived from Marseille, and Miroslav Klose from rivals Werder Bremen. These new signings duly helped deliver the Bundesliga title in their first season. German strike legend Jurgen Klinsmann became coach in July 2008.

There is an extensive list of great names who have worn the red shirts of Bayern Munich. Most notably German captain Franz Beckenbauer, Paul Breitner, Uli Hoeness, Gerd Muller, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Lothar Matthaus, and French World Cup winner Bixente Lizarazu.

Beckenbauer was a magnificent player who is quite possibly the greatest German footballer of all time and one of the games all time legends. He played over 425 times for Bayern and won 103 German caps also managing the national team for six years.

He won four league titles, four German Cups, three European Cups, one UEFA Cup, and one Intercontinental Cup as a player with Bayern. He added a further Bundesliga title during his latter spell with Hamburg in 1982. He also won the World Cup with Germany in 1974 and was a runner-up in 1966. He went on to win four German 'Footballer of the Year' titles.

Another great figure from Bayern’s past has to be goal-scoring machine Gerd Muller. Born in 1945 he joined Bayern from TSV 1861 Nordlingen in 1964. He went on to score an amazing 398 goals in 453 Bayern matches. He also scored 68 times for Germany in only 62 games. A remarkable achievement.

In recent years he has struggled with, and thankfully overcome, alcoholism but his football record remains extraordinary by any set of standards. He was Bundesliga top scorer no less than 7 times during his career. A true Bayern and world football hero, he won the European Footballer of the Year crown in 1970.

With their current crop of stars and developing talent, FC Bayern Munich are on the verge of adding to their already impressive list of honours. Without doubt they are one of Europe’s greatest ever clubs.

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About Jeff Perkins

  • Aaahhh…talk of Beckenbauer and Bayern. A playeran team I sure kept an eye on in the late 70s and early 80s.

    I remember seeing Beckenbauer many times during the days of NASL in the USA. Some very amazing play (those Cosmos). The way the defense (with Franz) could disect attacking offenses was beautiful. Well, my Seattle Sounders could sometimes push the ball in the back of the net, but not often….

    Point being, yes I agree. Bayern and Beckenbauer are top class.


  • German football* has been through some lean times of late (says Dr D the Englishman, with a degree of Schadenfreude!), both at national and club level. It’s 12 years since the national team last won a major championship, and German teams have performed poorly in the Champions’ League and UEFA Cup in recent seasons (Bayern Munich are the only German team in the last 11 years to win a European competition – the Champions’ League in 2001, and they needed a penalty shootout to do it.)

    But Bayern are safely through the group stage of this season’s Champions’ League with a round of games to spare, and are looking good. However, the other German team to make the group stage, Werder Bremen, failed miserably to qualify from their group and are in danger of finishing bottom – behind even a team from Cyprus.

    Bayern may historically be Germany’s most successful team, but I think the recent poor standard of German football has a lot to do with the downfall of the massive Borussia Dortmund club, which enjoys the best fan support of any European sports team. The club – former European champions – almost went out of business a few years ago, and have struggled to make an impact ever since. They were for quite a while the benchmark for the German game, and they seem to have dragged everyone else down into the doldrums with them.

    * Well, the men’s game, anyway. The women are current repeat world champions.

  • Jeff

    Thank you both for the comments – really appreciated. Douglas has defined the game perfectly when he says;- ‘I remember seeing Beckenbauer many times during the days of NASL in the USA. Some very amazing play (those Cosmos). The way the defense (with Franz) could disect attacking offenses was beautiful.’ – That’s exactly it!!! From way back in the stands you see a team come forward with the ball, probing for space, movement, opening up the defence – it’s not called the Beautiful Game for nothing ! Watching the NASL back then you must have seen some wonderful players. Also Dr. Dreadful’s observation re today’s German teams lack of success. Well it’s a hard act to follow but rest assured whenever a World Cup or Euro championship comes around I personally would never bet against a German team. At club level the slump in fortunes from Dortmund puzzles me as the level of support is fantastic. I’m certain that a German team will once again win the Champions League.
    Anyway – thanks again – keep enjoying the game.

  • whenever a World Cup or Euro championship comes around I personally would never bet against a German team.

    Quite… I read a hilarious quote the other day, which I think is attributed to Gary Lineker, which explains that football is a very simple game: 22 guys kick a ball around a field for 90 minutes, then the Germans win on penalties.

    They just have a knack – not quite mastered by Italy and France, the other two European powerhouses – of at least reaching the latter stages of major tournaments even when they’re not playing well.

  • Jeff, Dr. D, hhhmmm… yes, I wonder what the deal is with the loss of world dominance the Germans used to have.

    then, you think about it and I’m sure it is merely a case of that good ‘ol cycle of sports. They most likely will evolve back to a more dominating game.

    Being a USA player with 43 years of playing experience (some parts of the USA have been playing a long time) it was the Brits, Dutch and German styles I found most attractive. I imagine it is just because we are all nations that breed bigger dudes and play tough ball and create space. Ugh! Some of those Central Africa teams are prety tough also.

    Jeff, yes, the NASL of the 70s provided some excellent soccer. Much better than today’s MLS. Nothing against the MLS (SOUNDERS FC roolz!!!) when considering some of the world class players brought into the NASL. Of them all, it was Georgie Best (played for the LA Aztecs back then) that was the mind blower of them all. I was amazed at how he could pull defenders off their feet with a quick move with the ball.

    Oh, I got off the subject. Anyway, I am sure the Germans will cycle to a dominance again in the future.


  • Ah, yes, George Best. Never was a footballer more aptly named. And Douglas, you watched him when he was well past his prime!

    Some say he’s the best ever to have played the game. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but he’s undoubtedly in the top ten.

    What’s truly mindblowing about Best is that he was probably prevented from reaching even half his true potential by two factors: the accident of his birth, and his personal issues.

    He was from Northern Ireland, which is one of the weaker nations in world football, and so he never had the opportunity to show off his skills on the biggest stages: the World Cup and the European Championship.

    Then there was his alcoholism (and the resulting serious health problems), his playboy lifestyle, and his troubles with the law, all of which contributed to cut short his playing career and tarnished for many the memories of his genius.

    But why are we talking about Best? He wasn’t German. 😉 Beckenbauer. Now he’s German. And ‘Der Kaiser’ is for sure another player with a very strong claim to being one of the greatest ever.

  • Dr D. Right on! Der Kaiser! I forgot about that one. I remember a match vs. Cosmos when my Sounders were moving down the field with a clean attack and Der Kaiser positioned himself properly and the Cosmos defense made a move where there were 4 defensive touches with the ball not touching the ground (around the top of the box) and Franz was the last touch to pop the ball out to Cosmo control.

    Just one of those things of virtuosity that stick in the mind forever…

    Oh, I’ll get my URL fixed (I am a computer spaz) as you noted on the Wal-Mart article. Someone on another article comment told me the same thing. I’ll get to it, eventually.


  • I remember a match vs. Cosmos when my Sounders were moving down the field with a clean attack and Der Kaiser positioned himself properly and the Cosmos defense made a move where there were 4 defensive touches with the ball not touching the ground (around the top of the box) and Franz was the last touch to pop the ball out to Cosmo control.

    My goodness. Although Der Kaiser had nerves of Ruhr steel, I doubt that little move was altogether planned… you certainly wouldn’t see a top European defence try anything like that nowadays!

  • Dr. D, nope, not planned. Just the beauty of the flow of the game. Der Kaiser leading the defense had a feel of the situation and sometimes virtuosity is the result.

    I think that was the same year my Seattle Sounders played the NY Cosmos for the championship in Portland OR. New York scored the winning goal near the end of the match. 2-1 New York winning. Harry Redknapp was on the Seattle side.

    I really wish that the new Sounders FC (MLS) would sign Redknapp as head coach. How much money would that cost and does a coach’s salary count against the player salary cap? He has a strong history here in Seattle and the fans would eat it up. Harry would be more of a draw than Beckham in this town. btw, I think over 20,000 season tickets have already sold for the 2009 season.

    Anyway, two very good futbol teams.


  • Jeff

    It’s great to read all of these comments and get a feel for all that enthusiasm. Thanks ! Re- Douglas’s post about Harry Redknapp – he really does seem to have that special quality and is really popular wherever he goes. At the moment he is doing a great job getting Spurs out of trouble but who knows maybe one day he would like one last go in Seattle?? Hopefully the TV in Europe will be covering football in the US when it starts again. In the meantime I hope you are enjoying the series – any ideas/suggestions/improvements – please let me know – I want people to enjoy it and more importantly feel inspired to get out there and watch their local team. Thanks everyone ! Jeff

  • Jeff, yer doin’ good. You know, just keep on! Yeah, when soccer (uh, international football as some purists in the USA might say…) comes up on blogcritics, you will usually see Dr. Dreadful and I commenting like maniacs.


  • Indeed, Douglas, but how about fixing up that broken url of yours? It will only take you 2 seconds. C’mon now, type or paste in http:// at the beginning. You can do it!