Moving goodbye to football: When Völler’s wife made “Tante Käthe” the national coach

Moves goodbye to football
When Völler’s wife made “Aunt Käthe” the national coach

By Ben Redelings

After a total of almost thirty years in Bayer Leverkusen, Rudi Völler retires from football. The man they call “Aunt Käthe” as a player gives Bayer a new face after Reiner Calmund’s departure. But the former national coach does not always have the strings in his own hands.

“Absolutely not! If I say that to my wife, she’ll throw me out!” It’s summer 2000, and Rudi Völler is sports director at Bayer Leverkusen – but DFB desperately needs it. National coach Erich Ribbeck was no longer acceptable after a disaster European Championship in Belgium and the Netherlands, and a management team around Franz Beckenbauer, Uli Hoeneß, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder and Reiner Calmund had chosen Christoph Daum as the new DFB coach. . But there is a problem: Daum can and will not take up the post immediately. Not until next summer. A temporary solution is needed. But who should do it?

And then, on this wonderful day, Daum looks around the group with the greats of German football. His gaze lingers on Völler. “Rudi, what’s wrong with you?” he asks the 1990 world champion, who looks “shocked” at the Bayer Leverkusen coach and designated national coach, “as if I had just told him to shave his mustache”, as Daum remembers in his book “Immer am Limit”. Reiner Calmund, the Bayer Leverkusen coach who was still a heavyweight at the time, quickly changed: “Okay. Then we’ll just call Sabrina and ask.”

There are grotesque scenes that must have happened in the summer of 2000, when Calmund finally picked up the phone and called Rudi Völler’s wife. A few minutes later, a significant decision is made for German football, Bayer Leverkusen – but above all for Rudi Völler himself – and Daum sees a new national coach with “beads of sweat on his forehead”: “This is how you obviously look when others decide on your behalf. “

Legendary interview

This story does not really fit into the picture of the always confident, sovereign, sometimes short-hearted man whom the Republic christened “Aunt Käthe” because of his wavy hair as he played. “He’s a guy like Beckenbauer. He can have a child with any woman – and he will be forgiven in public,” said 1860 goalkeeper Michael Hofmann, very impressed with Völler. And the 1990 world champion enjoyed his special status for most of the hours. “There are worse fates than being popular,” he once said. Only when they had praised him too much in heaven did he think of this always so benevolent treatment: “On such evenings I sometimes asked myself in bed what was so special about me.”

The nation was not meant to really get to know the other Völler until September 6, 2003. The famous “Scheißdreck-Käse” interview of the then team manager of the German national team with Waldemar Hartmann was widely reported in the press. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote: “Leaders from other sectors should not have been asked to resign after such gross failures; after a few minutes distance they would have realized that they had become intolerable.” “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, however, showed more understanding of the verbal outbursts in front of an audience of millions: “Völler’s anger is not a sign of a dual existence in character, but only a reaction due after someone has been silent about his repression for a long time.” .

Perhaps Völler’s reaction at the time was due in part to his private situation. Because his wife Sabrina had finally given her consent on this memorable summer day three years earlier in conversation with Reiner Calmund, but clearly linked it to an ultimatum: “In the name of God, if that is the case, then he should just do it for a year do it. But not anymore! “

A white lie by Calmund

But Völler could not get out of the number after the cocaine affair with Christoph Daum. He remained coach of DFB-Elf for four years – and was always associated with Bayer Leverkusen. Because this chapter of his life had already begun at the World Cup in 1994. Calmund later said of a meeting that lasted several hours in Berti Vogts’ room in the United States: “The seeds were planted then. I wanted to bring Rudi Völler to Leverkusen at all costs. ” And in fact, the Bayer manager soon after had to resort to a white lie (“I pretended to be stupid”) when DSF (today Sport1) confronted him live on air with solid rumors that he had just picked up Völler from Olympique Marseille. In fact, Calmund had just made himself comfortable on the couch minutes earlier – after a day trip by plane to the South of France. It was the beginning of a great era that ends today after nearly thirty years.

Ben Redelings

Ben Redelings is a passionate “chronicler of football madness” and a supporter of the glorious VfL Bochum. The bestselling author and comedian lives in the Ruhr area and maintains his legendary anecdotal treasure. For, he writes down the most exciting and funny stories on Monday and Saturday. More information about Ben Redelings, his current dates and his book with the best columns (“Between Puff and Barcelona”) is available on his website

After finishing his active career in 1996, Rudi Völler had a huge opportunity to stay connected with football at the highest level. He once said: “I can not say all my life: I am world champion, otherwise I can do nothing, but I am good at it!” And although the time in a leadership position at Bayer Leverkusen remained untitled, he was always the sympathetic face of the club, which for many years has been referred to as the “pill club”. But then it was decided “creatively to make another concept that” lay like a hundred weights on the shoulders of the club “(Völler) into a positive, radiant light”. “Our ‘Werkself’ campaign. It was the best idea anyone had here,” says Rudi Völler with visible pride.

His foster father and friend Reiner Calmund left Bayer in 2004. Since then, Völler has been the club’s main representative. And the man whom Berti Vogts once described as “the greatest football personality ever” did a good job for the benefit of the club. And that’s exactly what Reiner Calmund thinks when he looks back on Rudi Völler’s eventful life as a footballer at Bayer Leverkusen: “I’m a guy who likes to sort everything into charts. The best restaurant, the most beautiful resort, the biggest “On the list of the best guys I’ve ever met in the football industry, Rudi Völler is at the top. Having brought this personality to Bayer – it still makes me proud today!” And rightly so. All the best and good luck with your football pension, dear Rudi Völler!

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