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Dennis Grassow: Former professional at FC Bayern, now caretaker

A request from room 207. An old woman wants to know from Dennis Grassow whether he can dispose of a huge cardboard box for her, while he is walking through the corridors of a retirement community in the south of Munich in his usual shorts on a December morning. “Of course,” says the robust man and laughs.

The residents of the nursing home in Taufkirchen know who Grassow is today. He is the head of building services. The 52-year-old is called in for maintenance, water damage, repairs and questions about fire protection.

But what most residents don’t know is who Grassow once was. Professional footballer. Defender. He was even in the squad of the great FC Bayern Munich for six months in 1997. Later at 1. FC Cologne, cult striker Toni Polster christened him “Eisenbieger”. It’s almost impossible to have more admiration for an uncompromising defender from an Austrian.

“The past is the past,” says Grassow as he sits in his office in front of the computer on which the orders for the day are coming in. “What should be special about my story? I see this as a different phase of my life,” says Grassow.

Grassow (center) at his station in Cologne. He is put under pressure by Rostock strikers Oliver Neuville (left) and Igor Pamic

Source: picture-alliance/dpa/Herbert Spies

There are quite a few people who associate former Bundesliga footballers with the idea that they should be taken care of after their career ends. Villa, luxury sleigh, swanky watch. This was not the case at Grassow in 2009 after the professional stations SpVgg Unterhaching, FC Bayern, 1. FC Köln, SV Darmstadt and Jahn Regensburg.

“I had a lot of thoughts after the end of my career,” says Grassow, who has two grown children: “I was a professional soccer player at FC Bayern and 1. FC Köln, and I also earned well, but I wasn’t yet satisfied. You also need something to do, that’s incredibly important for your head.”

Grassow tried his hand at being a B youth coach and was assistant coach at SpVgg Weiden in 2010, but none of that was for him. “As a father with two children, you have a huge responsibility, the house hadn’t been paid off yet and I had existential fears,” remembers the former youth player from 1860 Munich.

Always in the FC Bayern squad – only substituted once

Grassow was unemployed for a year, then he came into contact with the management of the retirement home through a car mechanic friend. His training as a plumber helped him with the job interview. “I have a gift for craftsmanship,” says Grassow. “It was stressful at first, but now in my twelfth year I have a lot of routine. I no longer get beads of sweat when water damage occurs and I react more relaxed. At the beginning, I didn’t know that I would develop such a passion here and that I would enjoy my work so much. I am happy.”

Grassow in his workshop in the retirement home

Source: dpa/Sven Hoppe

An FC Bayern team poster from the 1997/98 season in the reception area is a reminder of Grassow’s past as a Bundesliga great. It was the idea of ​​the home management. You can see Grassow at the age of 25. Around him: Oliver Kahn, Lothar Matthäus, Mehmet Scholl, Giovane Elber. “I was always in the squad, but unfortunately I didn’t play,” says Grassow. Well, except for once in the DFB Cup.

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Coach Giovanni Trapattoni substituted him for Markus Babbel at halftime in the 16-1 first round win against DJK Waldberg. The defender also played a small part in the later DFB Cup success.

Grassow should have gone to Borussia Dortmund

“He wins almost every duel, and with fair means,” praised Unterhaching’s former coach Lorenz-Günther Köstner, who was probably the best defender in the 2nd league at the time. In retrospect, Grassow should have chosen Borussia Dortmund and not FC Bayern. “I should have left my familiar surroundings,” he says today, taking a sip of coffee.

But Grassow remains with “experiences that no one can take away from you.” Not many were professionals at FC Bayern, not many were on Champions League trips with the Munich team to Paris, Istanbul or Gothenburg. But he no longer has any memorabilia left; his suitcase with jerseys and souvenirs from back then was stolen.

Grassow likes it in the senior living complex. “Because I live in a staff apartment in the building, I am always there for the residents if they want to talk. Sometimes they even knock on the door when they have a problem,” he says and laughs. He can never completely switch off from his job in the house. But Grassow doesn’t want that either. “I don’t have to drag myself out of bed; I enjoy going to work,” he says. “I think that’s very valuable.”

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