24.05.2022Bayer 04

#DankeRudi – Hermann: ‘A slick operator full of ambition’

He is the face of`Bayer 04 and he has shaped the club like almost no one else: Rudi Völler became part of the Bayer 04 family 28 years ago. The World Cup and Champions League winner successfully fought against relegation as a player in 1996, took charge of the Werkself twice as caretaker coach, and went on to make the club a regular competitor on the European stage as sporting director and sporting managing director. Rudi Völler is not only one of the most famous and successful personalities in German football, but he also became one of the most popular sportsmen in our country with his peerless approach. The 62-year-old is leaving the management board to become a member of a shareholders committee from 1 July – and he will continue to represent Bayer 04 as an ambassador in the world of football.

Bayer 04 are proud of the fact that the former world class striker has been part of the club since 1994 and has built up a strong connection to Leverkusen over the past 28 years. Ahead of the forthcoming farewell, five former companions describe what Rudi Völler has done for the Werkself and the importance he has achieved at Bayer 04.

Peter Hermann, his last coach in his career as a player, explains his experience of Rudi Völler as a player:

“I’ll never forget two of Rudi’s games for Bayer 04: his first and his last. When he scored the header to make it 4-0 against Eintracht Frankfurt in his debut at the BayArena, the whole crowd stood up and applauded. A goose bump moment. Before that, Bernd Schuster scored the opener from the halfway line and then he raced to the bench to embrace Rudi who was a sub at that point. He had given him the tip before the game to have ago at beating Frankfurt’s keeper Andy Köpke from long range because he always stood a long way out from his goal.

En route to an away game in Freiburg: Rudi Völler and Peter Hermann with team support staff Hans-Peter Lehnhoff and Matthias Valentin (left to right) in August 2009.

I still remember Rudi’s first training session with us really well. Stepi (Dragoslav Stepanovic, the head coach at the time) always made his players start with two two-kilometre runs along the Dhünn. Rudi looked at me quizzically and said: ‘There’s no way you do that before every training session.’ To avoid all misunderstanding: Rudi was still incredibly ambitious in spite of being 34. When one refereeing decision went against him in training he booted the ball onto the autobahn in a rage. I think it was only Martin Kree who had managed that before. He really helped the team get going with his slick approach, particularly in the first season with his 16 goals and 13 assists. Back then, we had a uniquely strong attack with Rudi, Ulf Kirsten, Andy Thom and Paulo Sergio.

Of course, his last game as a player will never be forgotten, our dramatic finale against FC Kaiserslautern to avoid relegation when I was head coach. It would have been impossible to think Rudi would end his playing career with relegation from the Bundesliga. There would have been the atmosphere of a funeral at his farewell game three days later. Everybody was there, the full international team, the teammates from Olympique Marseille, who he won the Champions League with in 1993. But they all had a really good time in the Bayer casino in the end.”

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