| Being around for 30 years has given Uli Hoeness the right to be opinionated
Berlin: Uli Hoeness is a man many Germans love to hate because of his reputation for having a ‘big mouth’.
The Bayern Munich commercial manager brought down designated Germany coach Christoph Daum with public charges of drug use, scolded Bayern players for indulging in shrimp feasts after losses and says loudly that Bayern are too good for Germany.
The outspoken manager knows he is disliked around Germany for his blunt talk but insists — despite death threats against him — that those who know him well like him.
“I’m willing to bet that you won’t find five people close to me — players, staff or friends — who would say: ‘Hoeness is an ass’,” Hoeness said in a recent interview with Bild.
Hoeness is possibly the most successful football executive in Germany, having helped to shape Bayern Munich into a soccer dynasty over the last two decades.
Germany’s biggest draw have won 18 German crowns — 13 since he arrived — and four European titles. They lifted the German Cup for an 11th time on Saturday by beating Kaiserslautern.
Yet Hoeness is also the most controversial club official in the country with a long track record of biting comments that have infuriated rivals and fans.
“I tell everyone my opinion whenever I feel like it,” the 51-year-old Hoeness told Bild. “That goes for everyone — from Franz Beckenbauer, to the German Chancellor or the Bavarian state premier. I’ve earned that right over the last 30 years.”
Hoeness, who had 35 caps for Germany as a rough-edged midfielder, caused outrage in 2000 when he suggested that Daum, Bayer Leverkusen trainer and Germany coach designate, had a drug problem.
That led to a heated month-long investigation into Daum, who took steps to sue Hoeness for libel, and a massive outpouring of anger against Hoeness.
Hoeness faced deafening boos and whistles and needed bodyguards for a while — until Daum took a voluntary drug test that confirmed cocaine use.
Daum lost his job at Leverkusen and was discarded for the Germany job. But Hoeness won only a partial reprieve.
“I knew I wasn’t wrong,” Hoeness said in a recent week-long series of interviews. “Sometimes I think: what would have happened if Daum’s drug test had not been positive' He would have ended up as Germany coach and I might not be Bayern’s manager any more.”
Hoeness admits he has made mistakes — such as when he accused Bayern players of being spoilt after a dismal performance against bottom-placed St Pauli last season.
“The players don’t appear to understand that football is a full-time job, seven days a week,” he told German television. ”Half-an-hour after the match they’re playing cards again and making big-shot comments.
They go and eat their free scampi after the game, while I go home with indigestion watching them play like that and am up all night because I can’t sleep.”
He later said sorry for the remarks but such apologies are rare. After losing a battle with arch-rivals Dortmund to sign Sebastian Kehl, Hoeness was quoted in German newspapers calling Kehl “a snotty young kid.”
He has also tried to belittle Beckenbauer’s role as executive board chairman at Bayern Munich, saying he no longer had anything relevant to say.
“A Beckenbauer who isn’t interested in anything can be replaced,” Hoeness told Kicker magazine.
Beckenbauer, the World Cup-winning captain and coach, has always eclipsed Hoeness, who is perhaps best remembered for missing a penalty in the shoot-out that gave Czechoslovakia victory over Germany in the 1976 European championship final.
Hoeness recently made eyebrow-raising remarks about Real Madrid, telling a Munich news conference: “Our friends in Madrid know that there is only one club capable of beating them — Bayern Munich.”
He disparaged the rest of the Bundesliga, saying: “Our team are simply too good to play only in Germany.”
Hoeness was quoted in Bunte magazine criticising Stefan Effenberg’s girlfriend, Claudia Strunz, after she left her husband Thomas Strunz for Effenberg.
Hoeness’ anger also exploded over a long-simmering row with former Bayern captain Lothar Matthaeus, who was suing the club for money he said was owed from his testimonial.
“It’s like he’s trying to attack five tanks with a popgun,” Hoeness said of Matthaeus’ suit.
Hoeness called Matthaeus “a real quitter” for asking to be substituted with 10 minutes remaining in Bayern’s traumatic last-gasp 2-1 defeat by Manchester United in the 1999 Champions League final.
“He was a real expert about opening his big, fat mouth everywhere he went,” Hoeness said of Matthaeus.