KLaus Augenthaler played for Bayern Munich for 15 years. He celebrated his greatest success when he became the world champion in Italy in 1990 as head of defense for the national team. After his active career, he switched to the coaching bench and worked in Wolfsburg, Leverkusen and Nuremberg. On September 26th, Augenthalter celebrates his 65th birthday.
Question: Mr. Augenthaler, you will be 65 on September 26th. For your birthday, we’re giving you a question that you can ask and answer yourself – just like at your legendary 42-second press conference in Wolfsburg.
Klaus Augenthaler: Okay (laughs). The question is: “Why can’t you manage to quit smoking?” Answer: “I’ll stop now.” I actually made it my goal to finally give up cigarettes on my 65th birthday.
Question: How would you react today as a coach of a professional team if players smoke?
Augenthaler: Having smoked as a gamer myself, I couldn’t really complain.
Question: How many cigarettes were there then?
Augenthaler: Almost two packets. I could only advise the guys today to let it go in the hope that I don’t get any stupid questions along the lines of: “Why did you smoke yourself?” As a player, in the first two or three weeks after the Holidays were always difficult until the engine was blown through again. I know that smoking is unhealthy, costs a lot of money and does nothing – but everyone has some kind of addiction.
Question: Has a coach ever tried to ban you from smoking?
Augenthaler: Don’t ban it, but my Bayern coach at the time, Jupp Heynckes, suggested a few times that I shouldn’t do it. I tried it. Unfortunately, when I held my cigarette out of the car window at the traffic light on the way to training, Heynckes was in the car behind me. He confronted me, said: “You stopped…” I answered him: “Coach, that was yesterday.”
Question: Many men your age use wrinkle creams. Have you tried this?
Augenthaler: no And they don’t help me either. I already had wrinkles before I was 40. And I stand by them.
Question: What would you have to pay to have your wrinkles smoothed out with cosmetic surgery?
Augenthaler: You couldn’t pay for that (laughs). I would never get a lift.
Question: Would you like to be a Bundesliga coach again today, 15 years after you left VfL Wolfsburg?
Augenthaler: I ask myself that question from time to time too. I come to the conclusion: No, I don’t want to anymore.
Augenthaler: Take Julian Nagelsmann as an example. When Bayern had not won three league games in a row, it was already (before the 0:1 in Augsburg; i.e. editor.) criticism loudly. In my private life, Bayern fans said: “If Nagelsmann doesn’t win the next game, he’s gone.” I replied: “You have no idea what’s behind it all.” Bundesliga coaching is the best job – if you’re successful . If not, it’s the humblest job. Then you’re on your own as a coach.
Question: You were one of the best defenders in Bayern history. Who is currently the top defender in the Bundesliga?
Augenthaler: Dortmund’s Niklas Süle and Nico Schlotterbeck as well as Bavaria’s Dayot Upamecano and Lucas Hernández are absolutely top-class. What annoys me is that Hernández is always on his transfer fee (came from Atlético Madrid in 2019 for 80 million euros; ed.) is measured and has often been the subject of criticism. I always thought he was great, even if he didn’t give as many commands at Bayern as he does now. If I had gone to a big club abroad earlier, for example to Milan, I would have kept my mouth shut and not made the big Max right away.
Question: Niklas Süle left Bavaria for Dortmund in the summer. In winter he caused a stir when he came back from vacation overweight. How would you have reacted as a coach?
Augenthaler: With special training, like we did back then. When I was assistant coach to Giovanni Trapattoni at Bayern (1994/1995 and 1996/1997; ed.) I had to weigh the boys at the start of training. Andi Herzog (then midfield star; ed.) was always a bit overweight after the holidays. I remember how he sweated in the sauna with his raincoat on before he weighed himself in, just to shed a few pounds quickly. As a player, I sometimes had a bit too much on my ribs after the holiday.
Question: Max Kruse has a weakness for Nutella, appears in burger restaurants and likes to share his private life with fans on social media. In Wolfsburg he was just sorted out by coach Niko Kovac. Would you have liked to have had the technician on your team?
Augenthaler: Good question. You always have the feeling that Kruse is walking around with one or two kilos too much, which of course is not good for him as a professional. As a footballer he is brilliant. If someone is positively crazy, you as a coach can turn a blind eye.
Question: With which star did you have to do that before?
Augenthaler: There were a few candidates. An absolutely positive, crazy guy was Lúcio, who I had on the team at Bayer Leverkusen (the Brazilian played in Leverkusen from 2001 to 2004, the editors). I could say whatever I wanted to the guy – Lúcio would always nod and still do it as he saw fit.
Question: What was your craziest action as a player?
Augenthaler: That was in the mid-1980s at a championship celebration with the Bayern team in Nuremberg. We were in the KonTiki bar and late at night I had the idea of collecting money for anyone who jumps out of the bar window straight into the Pegnitz River. The ice bucket went around, 70 marks were raised, and my defense colleague at the time, Bertram Beierlorzer, won it.
Question: In the international funding project “FC Bayern World Squad” you select U19 players from all over the world, most recently training 24 talents in Brazil and Munich. What fascinates you about this job?
Augenthaler: I really enjoy working with the guys and I’m happy to be able to give them something to help them along the way. It’s a huge program, we watched 2,600 application videos this year and ended up with square eyes. I’ve talked to a lot of talent from all over the world who were pre-selected. There were tears of joy and tears of sadness when the event was canceled, which touched my heart very much. Just like the images I saw during the video calls: a Syrian man was sitting on his terrace and half the house behind him had been bombed out. After school, these guys put everything on the football map. I’m glad that we can help some on their way and also do something for international understanding.
Question: Are you not even thinking about retirement?
Augenthaler: No, not a second.
Question: Finally, please enlighten us about a few clichés about your life: It is always said that you are a big wheat beer fan. How many glasses do you treat yourself to a day?
Augenthaler: One every day – at least.
Question: And earlier as a professional in the evening before a game?
Two at most.
Question: E-cigarette or non-alcoholic beer – which do you like better?
Augenthaler: I tried e-cigarettes, it didn’t work at all. When I drive, I drink alcohol-free wheat.
Question: If you had one wish for your 65th birthday, what would it be?
Augenthaler: I am satisfied with my life. My wish is to grow old and be mentally up to the mark.
The text was written for the sports competence center (WELT, “Sport Bild”, “Bild”) and first published in “Sport Bild”.