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Management Fussball

19 April 2023



Saturday, June 23, 2018 : It’s the preliminary round of the FIFA World Cup, Germany v Sweden, and we’re into the 93rd minute. Toni Kroos takes a short free-kick, Reus knocks it back and Kroos scores. In doing so, he writes national soccer history – by preventing it for the moment at least. At the time of this free-kick, no German World Cup team had ever gone out of the competition in the preliminary stage. The fact that this close call was followed by an embarrassing defeat against South Korea devalued the superb curling shot to a certain extent.

But this article is about something else. There have, of course, been match-winning players like Toni Kroos at all times and in many football-mad nations. For us Germans, they are Fritz Walter and Helmut Rahn in 1954, Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller in 1974, Lothar Matthäus in 1990 and Bastian Schweinsteiger plus Mario Götze in 2014 – all legends of German soccer.

But who is Herbert “Hacki” Wimmer? Five German league championships, one DFB and one UEFA Cup winners’ trophy, a European championship in 1972 and a world championship in 1974 – a magnificent record. In his role at Borussia Mönchengladbach, he was known as the “water carrier”. He was the tireless midfielder who had Günter Netzer’s back – running kilometer after kilometer, winning the ball in bruising tackles and passing forward to immediately close down the counterattack when the genius in front of him occasionally slipped up. Wimmer did the work so that Netzer’s star could shine.


In similar fashion, we also have to choose the right line-up in the company – the best mix of geniuses and workhorses. In management, too, there are these superstars, the visionaries, strategists and pack leaders, but also those who work tirelessly so that their teammates’ light can shine bright. Many things in companies would run much better if the “water carriers” were appreciated as much as they merit.

Management Soccer

Image: AdobeStock janews094

Then not everyone would want to bang the drum and make empty speeches instead of getting stuck in. No one would race off to a superfluous strategy meeting and leave an important job undone.

Those in top management who regard their dependable colleagues (without whom they themselves wouldn’t amount to much) as nothing more than diligent worker bees and are easily bamboozled by lazybones with pompous chatter have not understood the meaning of true leadership. Instead of always giving management responsibilities to those who talk the talk, they should listen more to those who walk the walk.

Because anyone who doesn’t hold the Herbert Wimmers of this world in high regard is certainly no Günter Netzer.

Matthias Kolbusa

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