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Scholl takes leave as 'friend of the club'

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Scholl takes leave as 'friend of the club'

Postby FCBayernNews » Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:54 am


A player whose honours collection after 15 glorious seasons at Bayern features 21 trophies, including an individual record eight German championships, some 469 competitive appearances, 117 goals, and revered status among the fans, was never going to slip away quietly from the football scene. Mehmet Scholl's official farewell did not disappoint in that respect.

A 69,000 full house flocked to the Allianz Arena on Wednesday evening, exactly 15 years after Scholl's first top flight outing in a Bayern shirt (a 3-0 win in Uerdingen). Barcelona, "probably the best team in the world," according to Uli Hoeneß, provided the prestige opposition for the game televised live around the globe. Finally, after Scholl's 53rd minute substitution and subsequent final lap of honour, he accepted a prolonged and deafening standing ovation.

<b>Unique and inimitable</b>

"The entire stadium rose to acknowledge a unique and superb career,“ Karl-Heinz Rummenigge reflected. "It was the farewell he deserved," added Franz Beckenbauer. "A world-class team on the pitch, a fantastic atmosphere, wonderful weather – you couldn't ask for a better farewell event,“ Uli Hoeneß summed up.

Scholl himself could not have agreed more. "Fantastic, a tremendous experience," the 36-year-old declared at the end of a long professional career. "You can't exactly take it for granted that Barcelona were going to turn up for my last match. I have to thank the club for that." However, the main recipient of thanks on the evening was Scholl. "Mehmet has always been a friend of this football club," Hoeneß observed, "he always gave everything, and our contract talks were always totally honest. He was definitely unusual as a professional footballer, and an unbelievably good ambassador for Bayern Munich.“

<b>Loyal and loved</b>

'Scholli' also remained utterly loyal to the club, despite many a lucrative offer from elsewhere, including the chance to join Barcelona in 1996 after Bayern won the UEFA Cup. "I learned to love Bavaria and its people, and my son was born in Munich,“ the Karlsruhe native explained, "but it would have been foolish to go somewhere else just for a bit more money or fame. I'm happy I stuck it out here for so long.“

That decision long ago won Scholl the undying affection of the home support. "It's been a privilege, Mehmet“ the south terrace diehards wrote on a banner. The board of directors presented him with the club merit pin, and named him Munich's second Honorary Player alongside Giovane Elber. Finally, Barcelona skipper Ronaldinho offered the veteran congratulations and a gift.

<b>Humour and understanding</b>

Scholl's 53-minute appearance included trademark backheels, lay-offs, crosses and imaginative passes. Barcelona's late winner, a storming Lionel Messi effort, in no way spoiled the evening. "The result was of secondary importance, and it’s a minor consolation that I wasn't on the pitch when the goal was scored. My result was 0-0, and that's pretty good against Barcelona,“ Mehmet grinned.

The quip was typical of the player's humour. "I'll probably start about three weeks beforehand. Barcelona aren't much good are they?“ he deadpanned when asked about preparing for his final outing. However, the smiling exterior often masked a deeply thoughtful, even introspective personality. "He's been one of our more critical contemporaries, always prepared to stand up to the board, who wouldn't allow the wool to be pulled over his eyes,“ Hoeneß reported, "a club needs players who are willing to open their mouths."

<b>Back to Bayern?</b>

"The Bundesliga will miss a character like Mehmet,“ Beckenbauer reflected, although the reverse is only partly true. "Training, training camps, the travel, all the palaver – I won't miss any of that,“ Scholl insisted. His only regrets are giving up the football itself, and leaving the fans. His future remains undecided. "I don't have a plan. Let's see what happens. I'll find something worthwhile to do."

The club would like to retain the services of its former midfielder. "Mehmet has a standing job offer here,“ Hoeneß confirmed, although the nature of the offer – probably in the youth section – has not been defined in detail. "He's unbelievably dedicated to helping the youngsters," Hoeneß remarked, "I could imagine him as youth co-ordinator or something like that. He needs a break now, and then we'll find a solution.“

<b>Huge shoes to fill</b>

The club has already appointed Scholl's successor on the field of play: his replacement on Wednesday night was the new owner of the number 7 shirt, Franck Ribéry. "I think we've appointed a new legend in the making," Hoeneß mused, although Ribéry is aware of the size of the task in seeking to fill Scholl's shoes. "I'm delighted to be Mehmet Scholl's successor,“ the France star declared, "I know the number 7 shirt is very special at Bayern." That will always be the case, thanks to modern great Mehmet Scholl.

<b>Scholl's honours:</b>

European championship 1996
World Club Cup 2001
Champions League 2001
UEFA Cup 1996
German championship 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006
DFB Cup 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006
DFB League Cup 1997, 1998,1999, 2000, 2004
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