—- Two years ago we had a tournament here in Munich, the Audi Cup, with Barcelona, Milan and Porto Alegre and in one of the pauses, when Barcelona were not playing, Pep Guardiola was in out VIP restaurant and Kalle Rummenigge and me sat down and we had a coffee together.
We discussed everything in the world and then he said: “I have to go down to my team now.” But, before he went he turned and said to Kalle and me: “I could imagine working one day for Bayern Munich.”
That was two years ago and it was always at the back of my mind and also of Kalle. So when we had to think about a successor to Jupp Heynckes we remembered those words so Kalle went one day to Barcelona to discuss things with Pep and then his brother came to Munich a few times to discuss terms, money and so on.
Last October/November it was clear in principle. Then Pep told Kalle he would like to get to know me before he signed so I took the contracts – signed by Kalle and out finance director – and, on December 18, I went to New York and met him at his flat by Central Park.
We spent three or four hours discussing God and the world and I immediately felt 100pc sure that he will feel very comfortable in our club because he’s a very open-minded person. He will not have any problems adjusting.
After three hours he said: “Shall I sign the contract now?” And I said that was not a bad idea – and he signed.
Of course one of the reasons is that he will make good money but he could have earned much more money in other clubs. I think what interested and then convinced him was the philosophy of Bayern. I think it’s closer to the philosophy of Barcelona.
He told me: “I cannot go back to Barcelona. That was a fantastic time for me but now it’s over and I have to move on to something else.”
I had the impression from the beginning that Bayern are a club who are quite close to Barcelona in footballing attitude and so it was not that difficult for us to convince him.
In fact, when I went to New York I found he had been learning German already with a teacher for four or five weeks and he told me he had seen, on video, all our games since August. So he had done his homework and he knew all the players, exactly how they behave on the pitch.
You know, there are no foreign coaches or home-grown coaches, no young coaches or old coaches, only good coaches or bad coaches – and if you are a good coach you can train anyone in the world.
As told to KEIR RADNEDGE for World Soccer/ESM