Farewell to football
When Fuller’s wife, “Aunt Cathy,” was appointed coach of the national team
By Ben Rillings
05/14/2022 06:33 AM
After nearly thirty years at Bayer Leverkusen, Rudi Voller retired from football. The man they call “Tanti Katie” as a player gives Bayer a new face after the departure of Rainer Callmond. But the former national coach doesn’t always have the leads on his hands.
“Absolutely not! If I tell my wife, she will fire me!” It’s the summer of 2000, and Rudi Voeller was the sporting director at Bayer Leverkusen – but the German Football Association (DFB) desperately needs him. National coach Erich Rebek is no longer accepted after a disaster in Belgium and the Netherlands and a management team around Franz Beckenbauer, Uli Hoeness, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Gerhard Mayer Voorfelder and Reiner Kalmond chose Christoph Dom as the new DFB coach agreed. . But there is a problem: Daum cannot and does not want to take office immediately. Next summer only. A temporary solution is needed. But who should do that?
And then, on this wonderful day, Dom looks around the group with the greats of German football. His eyes lingered on Fuller. “Rudy, what’s wrong with you?” “As if I had just told him to shave off his mustache,” asks the 1990 world champion, who looked “shocked” at Bayer Leverkusen’s coach and designated national coach, Daum recalls in his book “Immer am Limit.” Rainer Calmond, coach of Bayer Leverkusen who was still a heavyweight at the time, changed the fastest: “Okay. Then we’ll just call Sabrina and ask.”
A strange sight must have happened in the summer of 2000 when Calmond finally picked up the phone and called Rudi Fuller’s wife. Minutes later, a momentous decision was made for German football, Bayer Leverkusen – but above all for Rudi Voller himself – and new national coach Daum saw “with a bead of sweat on his forehead”: “Obviously this is what you look like when others are making The decision is for you.”
This story does not fit the image of the always self-confident, sovereign, and sometimes short-tempered man, who was baptized by the Republic “Tanti Katie” for his flowing hair when he was playing. “He is a man like Beckenbauer. He can have a child with any woman – and he will be forgiven in public,” said Michael Hoffman, the 1860s goalkeeper, who was very impressed with Fuller. The world champion since 1990 has had his own place for most of the watches. He once said, “There are worse fates than to be popular.” Only when they praised him so much in heaven did he always think of this kind treatment: “On nights like these, I would sometimes ask myself in bed what was so special about me.”
The nation was not supposed to learn about the other Fuller until September 6, 2003. The famous “Scheißdreck-Käse” interview with then-German national team captain Waldemar Hartmann was widely discussed in the press. “Executives from other sectors should not have been asked to resign after such brazen failures; after a few minutes of distance, they would have realized that they had become unbearable,” wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. However, Süddeutsche Zeitung showed more understanding of the verbal outbursts in front of an audience of millions: “Füller’s anger is not evidence of a double in character, but only a well-deserved reaction after someone has been silent about it. Conquering him for a long time.”
Fuller’s reaction at the time may have been in part due to his special situation. Because his wife Sabrina had finally given her consent on this memorable summer day three years ago in a conversation with Rainer Calmond, but she clearly bound it with an ultimatum: “In the name of God, if it be so, he should do it for a year. Do it but no longer!”
Calmond’s white lie
But Fuller couldn’t get out of the figure after the cocaine case involving Christophe Dom. He remained coach of the German Football Association for four years – and was always associated with Bayer Leverkusen. Because this chapter of his life had already begun in the 1994 World Cup. “I sowed the seeds at that time. I wanted to bring Rudi Voeller to Leverkusen at any cost,” Callmond later said of a meeting that lasted several hours in Bertie Vogts’ room in the USA. In fact, shortly thereafter, the Bayer manager had to resort to a white lie (“I pretended I was stupid”) when DSF (Today Sport 1) confronted him live with strong rumors that he had just signed Voller from Olympique de Marseille. In fact, Calmond had just rested on the sofa minutes earlier — after a day’s plane trip to southern France. It was the beginning of a great era that ends today after nearly thirty years.
Ben Riddellings is a passionate “football mad historian” and supporter of the glorified VfL Bochum. The bestselling author and comedian lives in the Ruhr and maintains the Legendary Tales Treasure Chest. For ntv.de he writes the most interesting and funniest stories on Mondays and Saturdays. More information about Ben Redelings, his current dates and his book with the best columns (“Between Puff and Barcelona”) is available on his website at www.scudetto.de.
After the end of his active career in 1996, Rudi Fuller had a great opportunity to stay in touch with football at the highest level. After all, he once said: “All my life I can’t say: I am the world champion, otherwise I would not be able to do anything, but I am good at it!” And although his time in a managerial position at Bayer Leverkusen remained untitled, he was always the beloved face of the club, referred to as the “Pill Club” for many years. But then it was decided to “creatively transform another concept” which is like the weight of a hundred on the shoulders of the club “(Fuller) into a radiant positive light”. “Our ‘Werkself’ campaign,” says Rudi Fuller, with apparent pride. That was the best idea anyone here ever had.
His father and adoptive friend Rainer Calmond left Bayer in 2004. Since then, Fuller has been the club’s main representative. And the man once described by Bertie Vogts as “the greatest footballer of all time” has done well for the club. And that’s exactly what Rainer Calmond thinks, looking at Rudi Voller’s eventful life as a footballer at Bayer Leverkusen: “I’m a guy who likes sorting everything on playlists. Best restaurant, nicest vacation spot, greatest woman…on the list of the greatest players I’ve ever met in Football field, Rudi Fuller was at the top. To bring this character to Bayer – I still feel proud today!” And rightly so. All the best and good luck to your football retirement, dear Rudi Fuller!