Franz Beckenbauer has won the Bundeliga, the Champions League, The FIFA World Cup as a player and coach, organized a super World Cup and now he has his OWN Cup.
The Franz Beckenbauer Cup between FC Bayern and FC Barcelona in front of a sell-ot crowd of 70,000 was to honor the achievements of Mehmet Scholl, a 15 year stand out with the Munich club, after his transfer from Karlsruher SC in 1992, 15 seasons ago. Born of a Turkish father and German mother he played 468 competitive matches and scored 116 goals, wearing the No. 7 jersey. He also holds the record of 8 Bundesliga titles, all with FC Bayern, and played 36 times for Germany until 2002. Such is his popularity that 100,000 signed a petition Mehmet fur Deutschland prior to FIFA World Cup 2006, to no avail.
I took the supporters club bus from Rosenheim, 60 km away and we sang Bayern songs, Bayern chants, beers were consumed, there was time out for a toilet stop, and there was a quiz. My good friend Georg Hoehensteiger who runs Gasthof Hotel Hoehensteiger in Rosenheim, along with his parents and brother, gave up his valuable ticket to me at the last minute.The gasthof is the best in Germany as far as I am concerned. I have visited with groups since 1979 and it has seen legends such as the present Pope, Benedict XVI when he was just the Archbishop of Munich, Chancellor Angela Merkl, Franz Joseph Strauss, the larger than life former Bavarian President, Dettmar Cramer and John Rennie amongst its distinguished guests. For 6 generations or more it has been in the same family and boasts its own small soccer stadium and training fields, with many distinguished teams from England, Scotland, USA, Italy, Germany, Russia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Australia, Norway and elsewhere enjoying unparalled hospitality and Lowenbrau beer..
What a line-up for the fans: Oliver Kahn, Luca Toni, Franck Ribery, Miraslov Klose, Ze Roberto, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mark van Bommel, Philipp Lahm, wore the red and white hoops of the Bavarians, while Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto, Edmilson, Deco, Lilain Thuram, Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho wore the Barcelona jersey. Henry played the whole match for his new club. As it was a friendly the action was a little tame, but three large glasses of Paulaner Brau, Die Bier for Profis,the official beer of Allianz Arena, helped the time pass until a wonder goal by Lionel Messi in the 85th minute woke everyone up. The pre-game show featured Anatolian dancers, acrobats, fire eaters, female archers and drummers and much more to celebrate Scholls Turkish heritage. Mehmet was substituted after 55 minutes by the new No 7. Franck Ribery.
Leaving the stadium it was bathed in a red glow, to match the home club's colours. On my last visit, in February to watch TSV 1860 Munchen in Bundesliga II,the colour was sky blue, the 1860 and Bavarian colours, and at last years FIFA World Cup semi-final I was greeted by an all white glow. There is still a standing section at each end for fans, easily converted to seats for UEFA and FIFA matches, where standing is forbidden. Getting service at the many concession stands is speeded up by first purchasing an Allianz Arena Card which is debited after each purchase.
Although Beckenbauer is Der Kaiser, and the club is run by former legnds Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness, the present and posssibly last King of Bavaria is undoubtably goalkeeper OLIVER KAHN. During last years World Cup there was a gigantic banner of Ollie diving for the ball, over the entire 8 lane autobahn near the stadium. He was second string at the Cup but played in the Third Place match in Stuttgart. I often visit Herrenchiemsee Island in the middle of Chiemsee, Bavaria's Ocean, where 'Mad' King Ludwig II built a palace based on Versailles, but the interior has never been finished. The good king, who almost bankrupted Bavaria with his extravegent lifestyle and follies, such as Neuchswanstein, was found drowned, along with his personal physician near Berg on Lake Starnberg.
The fans may drown in tears when their beloved Ollie retires, but until that time he is the King.