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The Golden Generation of Bayern Munich

Mon 04 April 2022 | 7:30

If we define elite football clubs as teams that always compete at the highest level possible and fight for big trophies, then Bayern Munich will definitely be one of them. The German club has quite an interesting history behind it and today we are going to take a peek at their golden era in 1970s.

If you are looking for a perfect football club, there are not many better examples than

FC Bayern Munich

from Germany. They have one of the largest fan bases around the world, they always tend to play an entertaining style of football with recruiting some of the finest football players in the world, they are a title contender in every competition that they take part in and at the end of each season, the fans could celebrate one or two championships either on domestic or international level. But during their early decades, Bayern Munich went through a lot and was nowhere near the team that we know today.

In the February of 1900, 11 members of a gymnastics club based in Munich decided to found a football club which was named Fußball-Club Bayern München. The club started from local leagues and had its up and downs throughout two world wars. In 1963, local leagues in German football combined into a single national league named Bundesliga. Bayern Munich narrowly failed to qualify as one of the founding members of the league. But the Bavarian side were determent to find their way to the German top flight and that’s how the golden generation of Bayern Munich started to shape up.

What Was the Best Bayern Munich Team Ever?

Up to date, Bayern Munich is a record holder for winning the most Bundesliga titles (31), most DFB Pokal titles (20), and most German Supercup titles (9). To boot, 6 Champions League trophies in addition to 8 other international championships has turned Bayern Munich to one of the most successful football clubs across the world. With that being said, the best Bayern Munich team was somewhere between 1965 and 1975. It was actually Bayern’s first years playing at first tier of German football but they managed to emerge as a dominate side both on domestic and European level. This is the story of

the golden generation of Bayern Munich

:

Reaching Bundesliga and First Championships

Prior to 1965, Bayern Munich had only two major trophies to their name which were a national German Champions title in 1932 and a DFB Pokal in 1957. Following their failure to become a founding member of Bundesliga, Bayern Munich hired the Croatian coach Zlatko Čajkovski who just needed two years to gain a promotion to Bundesliga. On their debut season in Bundesliga, Bayern finished third and won their second ever DFB Pokal trophy. After winning two other DFB Pokal titles in 1966 and 1967, Čajkovski was succeeded by his fellow Croatian Branko Zebec.

It was with Zebec that Bayern won its first Bundesliga title which came in his first season at charge in 1968-69. During the same season, Bayern also won DFB pokal title to complete a precious domestic double. But the Croatian manager’s career at Bayern Munich didn’t last long. Zebec couldn’t build on his successful first season and things went south in the 1969-70 campaign. Not only they got knocked out from European Cup by

AS Saint-Etienne

but also, the players lost their trust on Zebec and Bayern Munich board had to make a quick decision which was terminating Zebec’s contract at midway point of the season.

The Arrival of Udo Lattek

 Following Branko Zebec’s dismissal, Bayern Munich decided to hire then assistant coach of West Germany national team Udo Lattek. The 35-year-old German tactician had no experience in managing a top tier club before that and that raised some questions about his abilities to led Bayern Munich to glory. But many players in Bayern’s locker room had worked with Lattek in West Germany national team and in fact, it was

Franz Beckenbauer

-one of the key players in that Bayern team, who recommended Lattek to the club. That background helped Lattek to make his impact immediately by implying an attacking style of football.

Bayern finished that season as runner-up behind Borussia Mönchengladbach and Lattek started to prepare for his first full season. The 1970-71 season was another close title race between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayern Munich which at the end,

Mönchengladbach

claimed its second Bundesliga title with only two points above Lattek’s Bayern. But Lattek didn’t end that season empty handed as Bayern won DFB Pokal by beating FC Köln in the final which was his first major trophy as a head coach. In 1971-72 season Bayern finally managed to celebrate its third German Champions/Bundesliga title as they finished the league at top with scoring 101 goals in 34 matches.  

Bayern Munich replicated the league success in the following season as well and now people started to talk about the golden generation of Bayern Munich as they were dominating the German football with a highly attractive style of play. But that Bayern Munich team still lacked something to write their name in history as the

best Bayern Munich team

and that was European gold medals. Bayern Munich won its first European title in 1967 by winning the European Cup Winners' Cup tournament beating Rangers in the final. But they never reached to another European final since then and now after conquering Bundesliga, Udo Lattek aimed higher for a European prize.

First European Cup

Bayern won the Bundesliga title in the 1973-74 season and became the first team that won Bundesliga on three straight seasons. Apart from Bayern Munich, only Borussia Mönchengladbach managed to do so in German football’s history from 1975 to 1977 which was right after Bayern’s third championship. But let’s get back to the 1973-74 season which was Lattek’s fourth year at the club. Bayern won the league as we mentioned above but what made that season one to remember, was their European campaign. In the first round of European Cup, Bayern faced

Åtvidabergs FF

from Sweden which only lost the tie on penalties after a 4-4 aggregate draw.

On the next round Bayern had to battle with an East German side named

Dynamo Dresden

. Bayern won the first leg 4-3 and a 3-3 draw in the second leg sent them to quarter-finals where the Bulgarian club CSKA Sofia couldn’t stop Bayern and lost the tie 5-3. To reach their first final in the European Cup, Bayern had to eliminate Újpesti Dózsa from Hungry and they did it by a 4-1 win. The final match against Atlético Madrid ended in a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes and instead of penalty shootouts, the final had to be replayed two days later at the same location in Heysel Stadium, Brussels, Belgium. This time Bayern Munich put the matters to rest by a 4-0 win and got crowned as the champions of Europe.

World Cup Winners and Lattek’s Farewell

When we are talking about the golden generation of Bayern Munich, it worth mentioning that at the same time as Bayern was going through its golden years, West Germany national team was also enjoying from a prosperous era. The 1974 FIFA World Cup was being held at West Germany and the hosts used that advantage to get their hand on the nation’s second World Cup gold medal. The final match of the tournament was a thrilling clash between West Germany and Netherlands who had

Johan Cruyff

and co in its starting lineup. The interesting fact about West Germany’s lineup is that the coach Helmut Schön deployed six Bayern Munich players amongst the starting eleven.

Those players were Sepp Maier between the posts, Franz Beckenbauer as the captain and his fellow defender Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, Paul Breitner at left back, Uli Hoeneß at midfield, and Gerd Müller leading the attack. After Netherland’s early goal, Breitner and Müller scored to win the World Cup for their country with a 2-1 win. Just a few months later, it seemed liked Udo Lattek is facing a deadlock at Bayern Munich as he only won 7 out of first 17 matches in Bundesliga. Finally, in the January of 1975 Lattek was sacked by the club after winning five major titles from 1970 to 1975. 

European Domination with Dettmar Cramer

The search for a new manager to lead the golden generation of Bayern Munich came to a conclusion by appointing Dettmar Cramer in the January of 1975. Just like Udo Lattek, Cramer was also a recommendation by the club’s captain Franz Beckenbauer who knew Cramer from West Germany national team as he was an assistant coach from 1964 to 1966. The German Coach joined Bayern with having the experience of coaching Japan, Egypt, and USA national teams and also having a short spell at

Hertha Berlin

. Coming back from the first half of the season’s failure proved to be a difficult task as Bayern Munich finished the league on 10th place.

But Bayern Munich was lucky that their poor domestic form didn’t impact their European campaign. During Lattek’s last days at the club, Bayern managed to eliminate

FC Magdeburg

from East Germany in the round of 16. Dettmar Cramer’s first European match at Bayern Munich was against the former Soviet Union side FC Ararat Yerevan which he came on top with a 2-1 aggregate score. After losing to Saint-Étienne on Zebec’s final season, Bayern Munich took their revenge from the French club in the semi-finals with a 2-0 win. On the final match which was held in Paris, Bayern Munich defeated Leeds United from England by two goals to nil and won its second back-to-back European Cup trophy. 

Now Dettmar Cramer proved that he is capable of leading

the golden generation of Bayern Munich

and started his first full season at the club. Although Cramer’s Bayern failed to win any domestic titles in 1975-76 season and finished Bundesliga sitting at third place, they continued to dominate European Cup for another season. On the first two rounds of the tournament, Bayern Munich knocked out Luxembourgian Jeunesse Esch and Swedish Malmö FF respectively. A huge 5-1 win over Portugal’s Benfica meant that Bayern Munich had to face off against six-time European Champions Real Madrid.

After a 1-1 draw at Spain, Bayern won the second leg thanks to Gerd Müller’s brace and headed to the final where Saint-Étienne was ready to face Bayern Munich for the third time in four years. The final venue was Hampden Park stadium in Glasgow, Scotland where Bayern won the match through Franz Roth sole goal. After Real Madrid and Ajax, Bayern Munich became the third team in history that won the European Cup on three straight years. On his third year at Bavaria, Cramer led Bayern to another silverware winning the Intercontinental Cup title by a 2-0 home & away win against Brazilian side

Cruzeiro

in 1976. That was the last championship for the golden generation of Bayern Munich in 1970s and the club went through a trophy drought for the next four seasons. 

Key Players in the Golden Generation of Bayern Munich (1970s)

The foundations of the best Bayern Munich team were built even before they got promoted to Bundesliga in 1965. In addition to utilizing the homegrown talents who were developed in Bayern Munich youth academy, the club made a few critical purchases that helped them to form up a winning team. So many Bayern Munich legends were a part of the club’s golden era during the 1970s and below, we are going to have a brief review of the most important players during those years:

Sepp Maier

Being renowned as one of the greatest goalkeepers in a country that is known for producing top notch goalkeepers, should give you the idea of how extraordinary Sepp Maier was and why many believe that he has to be the number one in

Bayern Munich all time XI

. He joined Bayern Munich youth academy in 1959 and three years later, made his debut for the first team as a 17-year-old backup GK. Sepp became a regular starter since the start of the 1963-64 season and the rest as they say, is history. Alongside Beckenbauer and Müller, these three were nicknamed as the golden axis both for Bayern Munich and Germany national team as they were considered as the spine of their team’s squad.

Maier was a perfect goalkeeper who had a more important role than just denying opposition’s shots toward his goal. He was a smart leader at the back of the field and always tried to guide his defenders to maintain their shape and protect the box. The World Cup winner shot stopper was also quite a charming character off the pitch which made him a fan favorite in the golden generation of Bayern Munich. Maier spent his entire career at Bayern Munich and with 700 total appearances throughout 18 years, he is the club’s most capped player up to this day. 

Franz Beckenbauer

The second member of golden axis also started his football career from Bayern Munich academy. Franz Beckenbauer is without a doubt one of the best defenders in the history of the beautiful game who had an influential role in introducing the modern way of defending in football. After playing for Bayern Munich youth team for five years, Beckenbauer got promoted to the senior team in 1964 when he was 19. It didn’t take long for him to earn a spot in the starting eleven and in 1970, he was given the huge responsibility of wearing the captain’s armband. Due to his brilliant style of play and his charismatic characteristics, Beckenbauer was awarded with the nickname

Der Kaiser

meaning The Emperor.

Franz Beckenbauer is one of the few players that won the Ballon d’Or award as a defender and more surprisingly, he did that on two occasions in 1972 and 1976 when he was enjoying his days at Bayern Munich. He parted ways with Bayern Munich in 1977 to spend the last chapter of his career at

New York Cosmos

in USA. Decades later, Der Kaiser returned to German football as a manager and led his country to its third World Cup championship in 1990 which made him one of the three men that won the World Cup both as a player and manager since he was the West Germany captain in their 1974 World Cup winning side. 

Paul Breitner

Almost in every successful team there is a versatile player that can serve his team in several positions. Paul Breitner was that flexible player in

the golden generation of Bayern Munich

who had the enough tactical awareness to play various roles on the pitch and put on a world class performance in each of them. Breitner spent the majority of his youth career at ESV Freilassing but his first professional match came with Bayern Munich colors in 1970 when Paul was a 19-year-old teenager.  

His main position was at the left back but throughout his long and successful career, Paul Breitner played as a central midfielder in a plenty of matches both for Bayern Munich and Germany. In addition to helping his side on stopping the opposition’s attacks, Breitner had a sharp eye for finding goal scoring chances as he often placed himself in the perfect position to get at the end of a key pass and convert it like a striker.

Paul Breitner

is one of the only four men that scored in two World Cup finals in 1974 and 1982 against Netherlands and Italy respectively; although his side lost the latter. 

Uli Hoeneß

Both Paul Breitner and Uli Hoeneß were recruited by Udo Lattek in the summer of 1970 as two highly talented youngsters and both of them proved their worth immediately after wearing the Bavarian club’s jersey. Hoeneß graduated from his hometown club TSG Ulm 1846 youth academy in 1970 and shortly after, Lattek brought the 18-year-old attacking midfielder to Munich to add some fresh blood to his dream team.  Uli Hoeneß took part in 31 Bundesliga matches on his debut season at senior level and submitted 6 goals and 3 assists for Bayern Munich. His second season got even better with him scoring 17 goals and providing 17 assists across all competitions.

Hoeneß improved his numbers by scoring 25 goals in the 1973-74 season, including two vital goals in Bayern’s first European Cup final against Atletico Madrid that ended up in a 4-0 win for his side. But one of the best attacking midfielders of his generation, had to retire much sooner than expected as he suffered from a horrible knee injury during the 1975 European Cup final against Leeds United. He didn’t manage to fully recover from that injury and was forced to hang up his boots at the age of 27 in 1979. During his short career, Uli Hoeneß won 10 trophies both on club and national level including three European Cup titles and a double of European Championship and World Cup with Germany in 1972 and 1974 respectively. 

Franz Roth

People may forget about him when they are thinking about a Bayern Munich all time XI, but Franz Roth had a key role in Bayern Munich’s successful team as a hard-working player who could win every battle at the middle of the pitch. Although he didn’t play more than four matches for West Germany national team, Franz Roth was an irreplaceable player for his beloved Bayern Munich. Roth could play almost at every position in the midfield and also had so many decent matches as a right winger. He joined Bayern Munich in 1966 at the age of 20 and stayed at the club for the next 22 years.

Due to his aggressive style of play, the fans awarded him with the nickname

Bulle

which is the German word for the Bull. During his 435 games for Bayern, Roth scored 95 goals which some of them happened to be the club’s most important goals in history. For instance, Roth scored the only goal of the match in the European Cup Winners' Cup final against

Rangers

in 1967 which was Bayern Munich’s first European trophy ever. He also scored the opener in a 2-0 win against Leeds in 1975 European Cup final and in the year after that, Franz Roth scored another match winning goal in a European final this time against AS Saint-Étienne to help his side to win the European Cup for the third time in succession.

Gerd Müller

Not only one of the

Bayern Munich legends

, but also one of the greatest players in the sport history who set so many mind-blowing records during his wonderful career. Gerd Müller was the third part of the famous golden axis and the only part that wasn’t a part of Bayern Munich youth academy in his early days. Having his breakthrough season with 1861 Nördlingen, Bayern Munich signed the 18-year-old striker in 1964 -one year prior to their promotion to Bundesliga. The legendary number 13 was a phenomenon and stopping him from scoring was almost impossible for opposition’s defense. During his 15 years at the club, Müller scored 563 goals in 605 matches and became the all-time top scorer of Bundesliga; a record that is yet to be broken.

Throughout his career, Gerd Müller won 17 top scorer awards on club and international level. One of them came in 1968-69 DFB Pokal campaign in which Bayern Munich won the tournament for the fourth time by playing 6 matches. During those 6 matches, Bayern scored 8 goals and apart from one, all of them were scored by Müller. Gerd Müller also scored three goals in 1972 European Championship and 1974 World Cup finals to hand Germany two gold medals which made him a national hero. The golden generation of Bayern Munich had so many amazing players, but it’s hard to imagine if they could achieve so much if it wasn’t for the legendary Gerd Müller.

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source: SportMob

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