Nearly 24 years after he quit top-flight football, the success story of Karl Heinz Rummenigge is far from over. The Bayern Munich CEO has just supervised an imperious campaign to regain the Bundesliga and the club's acquisition of Spanish coach Pep Guardiola is still making headlines the world over.
Excerpts from an interview:
How do you feel after the first half of the Champions League quarter-final with Juventus?
I believe, it was a great game against Juventus; perhaps the best performance of the team (Bayern Munich) this season. This week, we play the away leg and we have to be very careful, because the Italians are very strong at home. But we are optimistic of a semi-final berth.
How confident are you of Bayern doing a treble this season?
We have won the Bundesliga. As far as the Champions League goes, the quality of the competition is really very high in the quarter-final. If we qualify for the semi-finals, we'll think about the next stage. We dream about winning the CL final but are not confident as we lost the 2010 and 2012 finals which was a nightmare.
Bayern are in the middle of a great run this season. What brought about the turnaround?
We got five quality players in transfers. (Javi) Martinez was, of course, the most expensive. We spent somewhere around 70m (euros) in transfer fees on players… We have a 'two-column' system. While the 'first column' of domestic players is properly reinforced, we are working on the 'second column', of getting good players from the transfer market and (sports director) Matthias (Sammer) is doing a good job.
How has Bayern as a club progressed from the time you were a player to the present day?
When I played in the mid 70s and 80s, football was completely different - tactically it was a different story, financially a completely different story. It's grown from 12m Deutsche Mark to 400m euros. (But) We have no Russian or any other business magnate from other countries in German football. So, we think before spending.
Do you attribute Bayern's success to its system of promoting former players into management roles?
We involve former players because they know the club's philosophy. We are the only club where former players are running and guiding the current generation. One day, I would expect the likes of Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger to get involved in coaching the future generation of footballers.
How did you convince Pep Guardiola to choose your club?
We had our first meeting in July last year in Barcelona. He gave me the impression that he wanted to join Bayern. He said he liked Bayern because the club shared his philosophy. When he joins the club next season, there'll be a good merger of Pep's and Bayern's philosophy.
Any plans of Bayern visitng India again?
It was difficult to visit this year due to other commitments, but there is, of course, a possibility to be in India in 2014.
The writer's trip was sponsored by Neo Sports