27.05.2022Bayer 04

#DankeRudi – Holzhäuser: ‘He was my best signing’

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 62-year-old is leaving the management board to become a member of the shareholders committee from 1 July – and he will continue to represent Bayer 04 as an ambassador in the world of football. Following on from Peter Hermann, Reiner Calmund and Michael Ballack, the next colleague describes Rudi Völler’s achievements for the Werkself and his significance to Bayer 04.

Wolfgang Holzhäuser, Bayer 04 CEO from 1998 to 2013, looks at the phase when Rudi Völler took over the role as sporting director after four years working for the DFB that saw him take Germany to the 2002 World Cup final as head coach:

"Our almost ten-year association began in 2004. Reiner Calmund left in the spring of that year – and it was clear to me: Rudi Völler would be the sporting director with the charisma and the right pedigree to suit Bayer 04 down to the ground.

When I watched his last match as the national coach against the Czech Republic at the 2004 European Championships from the stands it was clear to me: If Rudi Völler really gives up as national coach then we have to get him back to Leverkusen. I was convinced we definitely needed a sporting director of the classic mould. We reached agreement and Rudi came back to us after a four-year break as the national coach.

At Schalke: Wolfgang Holzhäuser with Rudi Völler at the away game against the Royal Blues in May 2009 in the stands at the Veltins Arena.

That was possibly my best signing. Rudi gave us an unmistakable identity on the sporting front. He initiated and shaped a lot of transfers – and was also happy to get involved in negotiations if the other side needed convincing. Rudi is incredibly empathetic and is very good at understanding the feelings of other people and reacting accordingly. And whenever he had a go at referees or others in his impulsive way then he was usually sorry for that half an hour later. He apologised as he also always looks for harmony.

I've rarely met anybody who is as friendly as Rudi Völler We rarely disagreed with each other; and if that did happen then we always found a joint solution. Being loyal is one of his great strengths. Rudi also accepted responsibility for decisions, which he wasn't completely convinced about. We also never needed a note on the files about things we discussed. He always stuck to his word even if there was resistance from other quarters.

And of course: Rudi is simply a perfect master of the art of representation. His personal presence and the affection he shows to all other people whether that's the Federal Chancellor or a cleaner will make him a wonderful ambassador for Bayer 04."

#DankeRudi – Part III: Ballack: ‘Rudi knew exactly what made players tick’

#DankeRudi – Part II: Calmund: "Where would Bayer 04 be without Rudi Völler?”

#DankeRudi – Part I: Hermann: "A slick operator full of ambition"

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