Uli Hoeneß was almost overwhelmed by the event in his honour at Munich's Postpalast on Friday evening, saying it was “unbelievable, and the best party we've had since I've been at Bayern." Some 500 guests accepted invitations from the club to attend the gala, entitled ‘Manager, Mover and Man’, in honour of Hoeneß’s 60th birthday on 5 January.
“I did anticipate a few things, but not this atmosphere in this arena. All credit to those who’ve achieved this. Thank you very much indeed," the guest of honour declared, “I'm very, very proud to be president of this club." Even the hardened senior official seemed close to tears of joy on what was both an official but also family-oriented get-together. “Looking at what's happening here, I have to say that every vision I had of what a football club should be like has been fulfilled," Hoeneß said.
The Postpalast venue, decked out to resemble the Allianz Arena, was a worthy setting for a magnificent event, celebrating the life and work of the most successful general manager in German football. “When I look at this ambience, this stadium atmosphere, I have to say you'll only get it at Bayern," Bavarian prime minister Horst Seehofer commented.
Over a festival dinner of freshwater fish and beef, the VIP guests drawn from the worlds of football, politics and business discussed the topics of the day. Star presenter Thomas Gottschalk brought his customary charm and wit to bear on the evening, with an entertainment programme including cabaret artist Martina Schwarzmann, the Alpin Drums group, and tribute band The Silver Beatles.
The highlight of the evening was an emotional and moving speech by FCB chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who revealed a number of previously unknown anecdotes from past times, and amusingly and pointedly described Uli Hoeneß the manager, mover and man. “You are the soul of our club. You and Bayern are everything, except soulless and certainly not boring." When the pair embraced afterwards, Hoeneß’s eyes were shining with tears, as he was visibly moved by Rummenigge's excellent speech.
Seehofer, describing Ulm-born Hoeneß as “passion personified", presented the FCB president with the Citizens’ Order Of Merit of the Free State of Bavaria, together with a certificate of citizenship. Hoeneß also received a very special present from the club. “What do you give such a privileged man?" Rummenigge asked rhetorically, “we've thought about it for a long time, because it has to be something very special and extraordinary. Next season, our team will play a top international club at the Allianz Arena in the Uli Hoeneß Cup."
Proceeds from the match will, in line with to Hoeneß’s wishes, be donated to good causes. “The bigger we've become, the more aware I am of the wider community," the former general manager said. In lieu of birthday presents, he requested donations to FCB's charity foundation FC Bayern Hilfe e.V. and the Dominik Brunner Foundation. For very sound reasons, Rummenigge described the guest of honour as “a very special personality, the Father Teresa of Tegernsee or the Nelson Mandela of Ulm."
“I believe he’s the most important man in the history of FC Bayern. No one has achieved as much as him," declared Kaiser Franz Beckenbauer, a fellow traveller with Hoeneß for many long years both on and off the field. “FCB and indeed all of us need his creative power. That also means he'll need the necessary health, and I hope he stays in good health for a very long time to come," the former club president continued.
In the final act of the birthday gala, the 60-year-old took to the stage well after midnight and revelled in the joyful party atmosphere, surrounded by his beloved Bayern family. “I wish Uli Hoeneß and our FC Bayern plenty more such happy moments. Enjoy your life to the full," concluded Rummenigge.