Klaus Augenthaler is a man of many faces. In Munich, Franz Beckenbauer once described him as a “blind man” and Udo Lattek attested to him having thin nerves. But in 1990 Germany also became world champion thanks to an outstanding Augenthaler. Together with Rudi Völler, whom he had once fatally fouled!

Klaus Augenthaler still remembers the first days at big FC Bayern Munich. Almost the entire team had become world champions in their own country a year earlier and now he came along in the summer of 1975, the defender from FC Vilshofen. Reluctantly, he looked at what was happening to him. Nobody said a word to him and if they did, it wasn’t niceties that were exchanged. Even the “Kaiser” Franz Beckenbauer made Augenthaler feel that he didn’t really need him. The later international still knows exactly what Beckenbauer said to him on the pitch: “Our first game together was in Graz. We lost 3:7, I was substituted on. And Franz, the world champion, the world’s best libero, just said: ‘I never want to play with the blind.’ I wish I had apologized.”

Augenthaler didn’t have much to do in training either. If he went a little harder against Beckenbauer, Maier or Müller, he would hear it straight away: “You, Wäldler, just hold back.” Bulle Roth knocked “Auge” out of his shoes one day, and Jupp Kapellmann hissed at him: “Go back where you came from.” But Bayern’s assistant coach, Werner Olk, had an understanding with the young man. He drummed into Augenthaler: “You have to fight back.” And the 1990 world champion defended himself: “I threatened Jupp with blows and shaved him twice. From then on it was quiet.” Also unforgettable is how the then youth national coach Herbert Widmayer introduced him to the wide world of football: “He comes from the Bavarian Forest, he first has to learn to eat with a knife and fork.”

At the time, Augenthaler’s teammate Sepp Maier predicted: “One day he will be so far that he shoots a cow from 100 meters away.” In fact, years later the Bavarian was to score the “Goal of the Decade” with precisely this specialty – when he overcame Frankfurt’s Uli Stein from more than 50 meters away in the DFB Cup in August 1989. At that time, Augenthaler had long been an established Bundesliga star. But even shortly after he started, Augenthaler had already become a sought-after, smart young player. As a dressman, he advertised for the jeans company “Outsider” these days and received a whopping 100,000 marks as a fee. However, the 21-year-old was always very enterprising: He managed two sports shops with three employees, advertised for an electronics company and was also the managing director of an advertising and event company.

Things were going well for Klaus Augenthaler, for many years things only went uphill – until that spectacular November 23, 1985, when Bayern won 3-1 at home against Werder and the pitch was thumped like never before. In the 16th minute, Klaus Augenthaler kicked the attacking Rudi Völler off his feet without the slightest chance of getting the ball. The Werder player was only injured for a long time, was then substituted and was then out for months with a torn adductor. Augenthaler said afterwards, completely emotionless: “I just saw something green and white coming towards our penalty area.” And his trainer Udo Lattek indirectly blamed Völler for his injury: “Rudi is too fast!”

Strictly speaking, the words were not only a mockery of the Werder professional, but also of Klaus Augenthaler. Because what Lattek actually thought of him, he only found out years later from the Lower Bavarian. The long-time FCB master trainer Lattek had switched to 1. FC Köln and, as technical director, gave final instructions to his two strikers Allofs and Povlsen in the dressing room before the FC game against FC Bayern Munich in May 1989: “Augenthaler won’t run out along the way, risking duels. You win them because he’s not up to it. And then he loses his nerve.” Of course, Lattek’s first-name friend Klaus was not enthusiastic about this statement. After the game he said: “It wasn’t football, it was war. And we have Lattek to thank for that.” Although Thomas Allofs scored a goal that day, the game ended 3-1 for Munich – and Bayern became champions.

However, Augenthaler himself was never a child of sadness: “If I come into the dressing room after the game and nobody needs a bandage, then I’ve done something wrong”. Uli Hoeneß once explained what that meant in concrete terms. At the time, the Bayern manager was thinking specifically about signing Diego Maradona. In the end, however, he was glad to have dropped this plan. The antics of the Argentinian superstar would have caused problems in Munich: “What do you think Klaus would have done to Maradona if he had made such perturbations as in Naples”!

In the summer of 1990, the same Augenthaler whom Lattek had shortly before broken down into all its individual parts crowned his career with the world championship title. The Fürstenzeller tells wonderful stories about the weeks in Italy. After the World Cup final, he sat for four hours at the doping control: “It didn’t work. A man over 70 years old from Fifa watches you and then nothing works again. Only when one said he wanted my sweatshirt from FIFA national team, they let me go. When I came to the party, everyone was already there!”

And since Augenthaler had just become a father, the woman came to the hotel with the child and bag and baggage to celebrate the victory. When Augenthaler got up early the next morning after a long night, he looked down from the hotel balcony and saw goalkeeping coach Sepp Maier with the newly purchased pink stroller from the Augenthaler family: “I don’t remember which player was in it, probably Thomas Häßler. And that one Sepp drives him over the lawn sprinkler.”

“Der Spiegel” once wrote about Augenthaler: “Like an oak tree towers over a forest of stunted pines, world champion Augenthaler towers over the Nuremberg football biotope. He is what the club used to be and would like to be again: used to winning, crazy about football, down-to-earth.” A nice paraphrase for Lower Bavaria. But that was Augenthaler too: on the day the Bayern man ended his footballing career, just seconds after being substituted on in his own farewell game, he grabbed a wheat beer and lit a cigarette with relish. He was always a man of many faces (“Nobody really knows me. Even my wife sometimes asks me: Are you really like that?”) – who was able to fool many journalists with his fine sense of humor. Unforgettable the sentence: “If you think you have a fool in front of you, then you’ve come to the right place.” Today Klaus Augenthaler is celebrating his 65th birthday. All the best and good luck!