MUNICH: After 40 years in charge, Uli Hoeness fought back tears as he officially stepped down as Bayern Munich president on Friday, when it was also confirmed interim coach Hansi Flick will remain in charge “at least until Christmas”.
Hoeness bowed out after former Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer was voted in as Bayern’s new president by members at the club’s annual general meeting.
The biggest surprise however at Munich’s Olympiahalle came when club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge stated that Flick would remain in charge for the rest of 2019 “and possibly beyond”.
Flick, the assistant coach when Germany won the 2014 World Cup, took over as caretaker boss after Niko Kovac was sacked a fortnight ago.
Flick, Kovac’s former assistant coach, oversaw their 2-0 home win over Olympiakos to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League with two games spare.
He was also in charge of last Saturday’s 4-0 thumping of Dortmund which moved Bayern up to third in the league, four points adrift of leaders Moenchengladbach.
Flick will stay on as interim boss for the next eight games – two of which are in Europe – until the Bundesliga breaks for winter on Dec 22.
“I say this with conviction: we trust Hansi Flick,” said Rummenigge.
Ajax coach Erik ten Hag, Paris Saint-Germain’s Thomas Tuchel and even former Bayern boss Pep Guardiola, who has a Manchester City contract until June 2021, have been linked to the job.
However, the evening in Munich belonged to the outgoing Hoeness.
Former Bayern stars Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, who helped win the 2013 treble of Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League titles, returned to present him with parting gifts.
Cries of “Uli Hoeness, Uli Hoeness!” rang out as an emotional Hoeness told members: “That was it. I am done. Thank you”.
Hoeness leaves the club in rude health with the German giants posting €750.4 million in total turnover for 2018-19, 93 million more than the previous fiscal year.
Their after-tax profit for the same period is a record €52.5 million, 13.3 million more than the previous best mark in 2016-17.
When a knee injury ended his playing career, Hoeness became club manager on May 1, 1979, with Bayern carrying debts of seven million Deutschmarks (around €3.5 million in today’s currency) and had 20 employees.
Under Hoeness’ stewardship, Bayern has won 24 Bundesliga titles and the German Cup 14 times, as well as lifting the Champions League in 2001 and 2013, in the last 40 years.
He transformed Bayern into a huge business which currently has around 1,000 employees and a vast army of 300,000 members.
“I don’t want to say that I did all that – that was us, all of us,” Hoeness said modestly.
In a statement Friday, Fifa President Gianni Infantino described Hoeness as an “outstanding personality of German football” and a “pioneer who further developed FC Bayern and established it as a globally respected club”.