Philipp Lahm would be a logical candidate if FC Bayern Munich needed a successor to their CEO Oliver Kahn in the near future. Lahm and a functionary post at FCB – there was something.
In the 2016/2017 season, the footballer-turned-multifunctional machine Philipp Lahm was still an undisputed regular at FC Bayern Munich and captain of the then series champion. His contract ran until the summer of 2018. When he was in February 2017 after his 501st game for FC Bayern Munich Announcing the end of his career at the end of the season, he shocked fans and officials alike.
Because Lahm didn’t just want to be a professional footballer anymore, in almost the same breath he said that he would not accept the post of sports director offered to him by then President Uli Hoeneß and then CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. The post was vacant at the time since Matthias Sammer resigned as a sports director in the spring of 2016 for health reasons.
SPOX traces why Philipp Lahm’s job as sports director failed at the time
FC Bayern: Lahm was considered Rummenigge’s favourite
In fact, the full-back was one of the top candidates to succeed Sammer. This was subsequently confirmed by all parties: “Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeneß were the first to bring me into the conversation about the successor to Matthias Sammer. That was a vote of confidence,” said Lahm himself, for example, expressing his gratitude.
Philipp Lahm is said to have been Karls-Heinz Rummenigge’s favorite candidate. The then CEO is said to have promoted Lahm internally. A common favorite of Rummenigge and Uli Hoeneß was Max Eberl, who now works for Leipzig. However, he did not want to leave Borussia Mönchengladbach at the time.
As is well known, Hasan Salihamidzic was entrusted with the post of sports director in the end. Salihamidzic is considered a Hoeneß protégé. Less than two weeks after Lahm’s announcement of the end of his career and the information that he was not available for the post of sports director, Salihamidzic was initially established as a club representative at the club, took over as sports director in the summer and even rose to the position of sports director in 2020. In the end he got the role that Lahm was originally denied. But more on that later.
Lahm: “Not the right time”
An argument put forward by Philipp Lahm several times was the switch to management shortly after his career. He had “decided that it was not the right time to get in after the season,” he explained back in 2017.
In 2021 he specified his concerns about the end of his career. Lahm continued to play as a player with all of his teammates until the end of the season. Suddenly being the manager of these players from one day to the next didn’t feel right. “It’s not so easy to let this fact out of the equation of previous emotions,” he continued.
That’s different now. Not only have six years passed, the squad looks very different. Very few players were still on the pitch with Philipp Lahm. In addition to substitute keeper Sven Ulreich, who had left the club in the meantime, only the captain trio of Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller and Joshua Kimmich played for Munich before 2017.
The timing would still be unfortunate again: Lahm has not only been a sports consultant at his second former club, VfB Stuttgart, since the end of 2022, he is primarily the head of the organizing committee for the home EM 2024 and as such is employed by the DFB. Should FC Bayern actually recall Kahn and want Lahm as his successor, he would have to be bought out of his contract. But Lahm gave way PICTURE know that he is not interested anyway.
FC Bayern and Lahm: Disagreements about his advisor
But timing wasn’t the only reason. Matthias Sammer joined the board in 2012 as a sports director and held this position for four years. At the time, FC Bayern was only looking for a sports director without a board office. According to reports, that did not suit Lahm – at the time he probably wanted to be able to discuss decisive discussions on an equal footing with the others involved.
But a board position for a career starter was out of the question. Uli Hoeneß said that Funk media group: “We have Dax board members on our supervisory board. For them, it is out of the question for someone without professional experience to start on the board.” Sammer’s predecessor Christian Nerlinger was only a sports director. The exception for Sammer had to do with his professional experience at the DFB. Sammer had previously worked there as sports director for six years.
It was also clear from Lahm’s side that there was disagreement about the role. Because Lahm already explained in 2017 to the starthat you can “only influence things to do with the team” “if you’re in charge.” Apparently that had something to do with his counterpart.
The relationship with Uli Hoeneß
Because in the same breath he also criticized one of the two decision-makers. “I think Uli Hoeneß is still too energetic to let go,” Lahm teased Hoeneß, who had only recently been promoted to President and Chairman of the Supervisory Board. He was still too young and wanted to influence everything himself.
That is “his right” because he has done a lot for the club. But apparently Philipp Lahm did not imagine such a joint collaboration. “I believe that there must be a hierarchy in every company or club. Everyone should know and understand their role in such a structure,” the world champion told the Deutsche Welle.
Hoeneß didn’t let the whole thing sit and shot back. He didn’t like that it was presented in such a way that everyone “must be afraid” of him and Rummenigge, he criticized the World. It is much more likely that you could learn perfectly from them. “There are hardly any better teachers,” he ennobled himself.
Another problem is said to have been the influence of Lahm’s longtime advisor and business partner, Roman Grill. Grill had worked in the press office of FC Bayern Munich before he was exclusively responsible for Philipp Lahm’s career planning – and the relationship with the record champions was not the best. Hoeneß in particular, it was said at the time, was said to have had no great desire to have Grill present at the most important meetings of the club as a kind of shadow of Lahm.
Lahm: Not the first conflict with Hoeneß
The discussions about the post as sports director were not the first time that Hoeneß and Lahm clashed. There was already a conflict in 2009 after Lahm in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung had criticized the cadres policy. At that time he not only had to pay a fine, he was also summoned to Hoeneß’s office.
“There were also Karl Hopfner and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. I was tense, sitting on the sofa. It was a strange feeling, being alone around three,” he recalled Picture back, “the volume was a bit higher, enormously loud.”
But there was no bad blood back then. He represented his point of view and it was spoken out. “We got off to a good start,” explained Lahm. In general, Lahm is considered a friend of Hoeneß’s open culture of debate. He previously praised the fact that it was getting heated, but “you could always sit down and talk about it afterwards”.
Lahm and FC Bayern: the future is open
So Philipp Lahm left no scorched earth behind – neither at FC Bayern itself nor at Uli Hoeneß. Today’s honorary president still has an enormous influence at FCB. It is not to be expected that he would stand in the way of a commitment from the former full-back.
Hoeneß had already met in 2017 spark explains: “The door remains open for Philipp Lahm. I can imagine that one day he will work at FC Bayern.” And Lahm also confirmed only two years ago in his picture interview that he could imagine an “office in Bavaria” – “let’s see.”