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Boris Becker - Bayern Munich


Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.


Tennis player, football fan, and now a board member at Bayern Munich Football Club.

When Franz Beckenbauer asked Boris Becker to join the advisory board of Bayern Munich, the former tennis player thought about it for "three seconds." At the time Becker didn't even quite know what the board did, though, as he said, "I assume it's to do with football."
The details were irrelevant. Like approximately ten million other Germans, Becker is a Bayern fan, so he said yes. Supporters of other clubs sometimes scoff that his oft-proclaimed affection for the club is just a matter of PR. Certainly, it's a relationship that suits both him and Bayern - but those who know Becker insist it is genuine. The prodigy divided his childhood between football and tennis, and may have ended up choosing the wrong sport. Shortly before he won his first Wimbledon aged 17, professional football clubs were still trying to woo him.
While travelling the world serving and volleying, whether in Florida, Sydney or Munich itself, he always kept an eye on Bayern. He follows Germany just as closely, travelling in the team bus after they won the final of Euro '96 at Wembley.
At Euro 2000 he was back on the bus, but these were the bad times, with Germany losing all their three matches, though Becker thought they deserved to beat England.
Eduard Geyer, manager of German club Energie Cottbus, mocked: "Now Boris Becker is riding the team bus, soon the players will be bringing their aunts along."
Becker still grasps every chance to involve himself with football. Many leading German footballers cite him as their hero, some seek his advice, and his marketing bureau represents the great Ukrainian Andrei Shevchenko, who calls Becker "my greatest sporting idol."
Certainly Becker's advice is not of the sort often heard in football. Last year he told Ottmar Hitzfeld, Bayern's manager: "When your back is to the wall you have to play serve-and-volley. Attack your enemy."
Together with Claudia Schiffer, Becker backed Germany's bid to host the World Cup of 2006, he has commentated on football matches on TV, and he plays in the odd football match. (Though a decent player, he is nothing like as good as the Formula I driver Michael Schumacher, a star with FC Auban in Switzerland.)
Becker was following the Bayern vs Valencia Champions League final in Milan, which could have been a bad omen. He was also in Barcelona on the night that Bayern lost 2-1 to Manchester United.


Simon Kuper, May 2001

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