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    When the controversial world star reconciled with Germany


    He was the sensational transfer in the Bundesliga 30 years ago. When Bernd Schuster returned from Spain to Bayer Leverkusen in Germany, the media and fans watched closely. It wasn’t just his departure from the national team ten years earlier that made a lot of headlines.

    “He has the intelligence of an East Frisian tea bag.” Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s words about his former teammate in the German national team, Bernd Schuster, resonated for a long time. But now, when the “blond angel” returned to the Bundesliga in the summer of 1993, the media naturally wanted to know what he would think of Karl-Heinz Rummenigge – and Schuster answered wisely and diplomatically: “One of the really great strikers, who had his best time in the Bundesliga.” The journalists immediately noticed that the man had matured significantly at the age of 33. But the stories from earlier times were far from forgotten in Germany.

    It all started so promisingly when German young hopeful Bernd Schuster became European champions in Italy with the national team in 1980. But immediately after the tournament, the Augsburg native moved from 1. FC Cologne to FC Barcelona. The big world of football was now wide open to the blonde young star – but the press soon called him “arrogant and moody”. The media actually loved Bernd Schuster. Not least because of his dazzling wife Gaby at his side, who also acted as his manager.

    However, not everyone was enthusiastic about the relationship – Schuster’s mother Gisela in particular suffered from the relationship and in the early 1980s she had no choice but to write an open letter in the illustrated magazine “Bunte” to her own son: “Dear Berndi, what I know about you, I know from the newspapers. I don’t even have your phone number. Do you just want to be left alone? Has the hustle and bustle changed you so much? I trembled and feared for you, I cheered with you and cried for you. Warm greetings and all the best, your mom.”

    Schuster teases below the belt

    Shortly before the 1982 World Cup in Spain, the two great experts of German football, Paul Breitner and Bernd Schuster, engaged in a power struggle in the media that had never before occurred in this form. 22-year-old Bernd Schuster attacked his FC Bayern Munich colleague from a safe distance in Spain in a polarizing attack that resulted in him having to put his national team career on hold for some time.

    While Paul Breitner acted old-fashioned and good-natured, Bernd Schuster teased below the belt: “Paule is a clever dog. He doesn’t yet hold the team meetings in person. He still passes on his orders through Derwall. I wouldn’t be surprised if One day Breitner pushes Derwall’s installation under the crack in the door.”

    The Bayern captain replied calmly: “He behaves like I did at his age. But who is a playmaker is decided anew in every international match. Whoever has the best form should do it, it could be Magath from Hamburg, sometimes the Müller from Stuttgart, sometimes me, and that could also be Bernd Schuster at any time.”

    Schuster doesn’t need his Gaby on the soccer field

    Schuster gratefully picked up the ball: “If Breitner doesn’t make it – physically he’s in the last hole at the moment – then I’ll be there if there’s a need.” And he added smugly: “The Breitner problem will be solved biologically.”

    But then the verbal battle became even more heated. National coach Jupp Derwall intervened and, after a few drinks at Hansi Müller’s housewarming party, called Gaby Schuster at 2:30 a.m. and accused her of what a bad influence she was on her husband. Shortly afterwards, Breitner sent another poison arrow towards Schuster’s wife: “Bernd is a lovely young guy, but there is a huge difference whether you meet him without his wife or with her. In the first case, he is like a little boy, he says neither moo nor mow nor giggle and cack; but in the second case he quickly becomes a raging wild pig.”

    The battle actually seemed over. Schuster countered meekly: “I can still get along without my wife on the football field.” And then the FC Barcelona star withdrew and left the stage to his attacked wife Gaby: “I only go out in public when I see that he is being ripped off because of his good-naturedness and carefree attitude.”

    A year later, Bernd Schuster returned to the national team for a few months. Paul Breitner had ended his career. But Schuster also played his last international match in February 1984. What exactly led to his resignation was never finally clarified. But the quarrels were far from forgotten.

    Bernd Schuster, the German Frank Sinatra?

    And so it was clear that when the “blond angel” returned to Germany in the summer of 1993, the media naturally wanted to know what Schuster’s wife Gaby would say about his return home. The Neu Leverkusen player didn’t mince his words when he first made it clear who was to blame for the situation at the time: “It was due to the macho behavior of the journalists. There was no place for a woman in football.” And he also admitted: “Of course she keeps an eye on whether the old negative stories come up again.”

    But in the summer of 1993 the mood for the Schusters was initially positive. The returning world star not only thrilled the fans, his coach Dragoslav Stepanovic also became a big supporter of the footballer Bernd Schuster after just a few days. He told his players: “If you don’t know where to put the ball – then go to Bernd.”

    And in the weeks and months that followed, sporting headlines about Bernd Schuster alone attracted attention. Bayer manager Reiner Calmund was also really excited: “The shoemaker has a PR value like Frank Sinatra.” And then there was the national coach. Berti Vogts sat in the stands in Leverkusen specifically to watch the returnee from Spain. Afterwards he enthused: “It’s unique how Schuster set the pace. It’s impressive what he did. And his passes are top class. Without question: Bernd Schuster is the best libero there has ever been after Franz Beckenbauer.”

    It was these days in the summer of 1993 when the Schusters reconciled with Germany. At the end of a crazy first half of the year in Leverkusen, Bernd Schuster even said: “I’m available if Vogts needs me.” The fact that this didn’t happen in the end is perhaps one of those typical stories from the Augsburg player’s career. But first of all, the Schusters’ world was completely in order in the summer thirty years ago after their return to Germany.

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