Klaus Augenthaler was a Libero, making the position famous along with Franz Beckenbauer
Libero is a player who has a more fluidic role which relies heavily on the positional sense and ball playing ability of a player. Libero in Italian literally translates to “free from man-marking task”. A libero is a sweeper who sweeps up the ball every time the opposition breaches the defensive line. A Libero is expected to start counter attacking moves and must have good ball control and passing abilities when compared with a typical defender.
Klaus Augenthaler was a sweeper or a Libero for most of his career, making the position famous along with the likes of Franz Beckenbauer. He was a smart defender with very good ball control and confidence when over the ball. His distribution of the ball was responsible for so many Bayern’s counter attacking goals. He was a one club man and a true Bayern legend.
Klaus Augenthaler had wore only one club’s first team jersey in his entire career, Bayern Munich
Klaus was into football from a very young age, joining FC Vilshofen at the age of 7. He developed as a defender in the academy till the age of 18, before he decided to join the Bayern academy to fast-track his progress. He did not last long in the Bayern youth side, quickly making his first team debut in 1976 at the age of 19. Augenthaler quickly established himself in the first team, after an impressive breakthrough season.
Augenthaler was a defender who was known for his goalscoring as well. He had recorded 73 career goals, not bad for a defender. The most famous of those goals came from the halfway line against Eintracht Frankfurt side. He had the ball at his feet at the halfway line and he lifted his head up to look for passing options. That was when a crazy idea struck him.
He saw the Frankfurt goalkeeper Uli Stein off the line and decided to test his accuracy and Stein’s confidence. He unleashed a bullet from the halfway line and it crept in, beating a backtracking and embarrassed Stein. That goal from Klaus was adjudged as the goal of the season as well as the goal of the decade. He was nicknamed “the Auge”, derived from his surname, which meant the eye in German. It was a classic tribute to his eye for the killer pass as well as his terrific distribution of the ball even though he was a defender.
Klaus was the most successful player in Bayern’s history, winning 7 Bundesliga crowns and 3 DFB Pokals, also reaching the European Cup finals twice, losing both the times though. He also won the World Cup with Germany as he was a part of a solid defense which defeated Argentina 1-0 in the 1990 World Cup Finals in Rome. It capped a brilliant year on an individual front for Klaus, as he had just won the Goal of the decade accolade as well as the Bundesliga with Bayern. He was also a part of the squad which reached the 1986 World Cup finals, but he only played in two group matches in that tournament.
Augenthaler captained Bayern from 1984-1991, an incredible period in Bayern’s history as they won 4 Bundesliga title, 2 DFB Pokal, 2 DFB SuperCup and reached the European Cup finals once, losing out to Porto. having lost to Aston Villa in 1982, this was the second heartbreak at the grandest stage of European football for Klaus Augenthaler.
Augenthaler did not let anything past him, putting in a MOTM performance in the semis of the 1990 WC
In total, Klaus Augenthaler donned the Bayern jersey for 15 years, tirelessly serving the club from 1976 to 191, when he finally decided to hang up his boots and wear the coaching cap, joining the backroom staff at Bayern. He had made 565 club appearances in his time at Bayern, playing almost 50,000 minutes for his childhood love, scoring an incredible 73 goals and recording 11 assists.
Some argued that Klaus retired at his peak, as he had just won the World Cup and scored the incredible goal of the decade. He was still clocking the minutes as he rarely missed games, with his incredible stamina and physical fitness lauded by then coach Jupp Heynckes. It was a shame that such an incredible defender, who had made the libero position his own, had retired at his peak.
But defenders like him are rarely seen in the modern game, with the libero role rarely used by clubs in the top European leagues. The defenders these days rely more on passing their way out of trouble, with high pressing restricting the room for a libero.
The Auge will nevertheless be one of the greatest defender of Bayern, spending 22 years with the club and setting an example for long time club servants like Thomas Muller and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Having taken a break from the managerial career in 2013, it seems Klaus has run out of football in him as a decorated and trophy laden career of an incredible footballer nears the end.
Klaus Augenthaler - defender, Captain and club legend, lifting the trophy countless times for Bayern