I have no interest in retiring: Sepp Maier at 65February 26th, 2009 - 4:15 pm ICT by IANS
Munich, Feb 26 (DPA) German goalkeeping legend Sepp Maier will always be remembered for the dives he took trying to catch a stray duck during a Bundesliga match between Bayern Munich and VfL Bochum.
With Bayern about to take a penalty, Maier decided to concentrate on a duck that had strayed into the stadium and crawled towards it before theatrically dived trying to catch it.
Much to the amusement of most of the fans in the stadium who watched him - rather than the taking of the penalty - he failed in his attempts to catch the animal, but achieved his goal of entertaining the fans.
Always open for a laugh and looking to play a practical joke on his team-mates, Maier was also a gifted goalkeeper who collected trophies and medals like few other players.
On Saturday Maier will be turning 65 - an age at which most other people gratefully accept retirement.
No so Maier.
He told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) that he was far from retiring. “I have no interest in retiring. If one retires you become even older, at least your spirit becomes older,” he said.
Maier still has much that he wants to do. “If you have no plans in your life you might as well get buried immediately.”
True to his word, Maier will not celebrate his birthday quietly with family and friends in Bavaria. Instead, he will be on stage in Berlin, performing as a magician in the show “Das Ueberraschungsfest der Volksmusik”.
“It will be great. There will be plenty of people to celebrate with me and I don’t have to pay,” he says with a smile.
As a child Maier wanted to become an actor and Germany’s Goalkeeper of the Century says that even though he became a footballer there are distinct similarities.
“If you want to achieve something in the football business, you have to know something about the world of the theatre. The way in which you relate to people is similar.”
Maier, who was known as ‘The cat from Anzing’, knew how to play to the crowd, both on the football field and on stage. He is known as much for his legendary chasing of the duck - which earned him a second nick-name: Entenjaeger (duck hunter) - as for his on-the-field heroics during games.
Just short of a year ago, he said goodbye to his football life when he retired as Bayern Munich goalkeeping coach - the same time his prodigy Oliver Kahn retired.
“I was with the club since I was 15 years old, but it had to be. I can’t be there until I am 100, even though there is a tinge of sadness.”
Maier won the World Cup with Germany in 1974, two years earlier he won the European Championships and with Bayern he won five Bundesliga titles, four medals for winning the German Cup and three European Champions’ trophies.
“Those were the highlights of my life,” he says.
Maier is not one of those who looks back at his playing days and cries over the amount of money that he could have made if he had been playing today - he is happy that today’s players are making so much.
“We had other things we could do. For instance, the night before a match I could sit down with Franz Beckenbauer and Paul Breitner and enjoy a cool beer and eat a good pork knuckle.
“We ate what we enjoyed. Today’s generation should probably return to those days - then they would play better football,” he says.
Maier, who has 95 caps and played 473 Bundesliga games for Bayern Munich, was known throughout his career for being one who was not scared to speak his mind.
Former Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann, who got rid of Maier as German goalkeeping coach at the end of a trip to Iran in 2004, has been at the receiving end of Maier’s wrath.
“I was with the German team for close to 20 years, before they threw me out,” Maier says.
Former team-mate Beckenbauer took him on bard the German coaching staff in 1987. Three years later Germany won the World Cup with Beckenbauer as coach and Maier goalkeeper coach.
But it is not only being booted out that angers him about Klinsmann. He is also angry that the coach gave Kahn a position on the bench for the 2006 World Cup.
“It was not fair what Klinsmann did to him. If something like that had happened to me in 1974, I would have strangled the coach.”
Today, Maier has mellowed out. “I no longer have a problem with Klinsmann.”
Maier started out as striker and was top striker in one season for his club TSV Haar. An injury to their goalkeeper forced him to go into goals and even though they lost the match 12-0, he made such an impression that he was asked to join Bayern Munich.
There he became part of the legendary Maier-Beckenbauer-Gerd Mueller axis that brought club and country huge success.
In 1979 his career came to an abrupt end as he was badly injured in a car accident. “That I could no longer play football was the least of my worries. I had been playing for 20 years.”
His priority was getting better and he thanks former team-mate and current Bayern manager Uli Hoeness for that. “He saved my life and that is something that I will never forget.
“Uli took me out of hospital and brought me to a specialist. A day longer and I would have died. Those were dark days, but apart from them, I have actually been very fortunate throughout my life.”