Full name: Harald Anton Schumacher
Born: 6 March 1954 in Duren, Germany.
Playing career: until 1972: Schwarz-Weiss Duren. 1972-1987: Cologne. 1987-1988: Schalke. 1988-1991: Fenerbahce. 1991-1992: Bayern Munich. 1995-1996: Borussia Dortmund.
Honours as a player: European Championship winner (1980), FIFA World Cup™ runner-up (1982 and 1986), German league champion (1978 and 1996), German cup winner (1977, 1978 and 1983). 76 international appearances for West Germany.
Coaching career: 1996-1998: Borussia Dortmund (goalkeeping coach). 1998-2000: Fortuna Cologne. 2001-2003: Bayer Leverkusen (goalkeeping coach).
Toni Schumacher – Pulling No Punches
Harald “Toni” Schumacher, once one of the best goalkeepers in the world, is now a businessman with a successful sportsmarketing agency in his hometown of Cologne.
The red-brick building is a picture of modernity. Outside, a stream of traffic heads towards town and the number 7 tram stops practically right outside the entrance to the building. To the back is the hospital where Christoph Daum checked in for an operation and ended up agreeing to take over as Cologne manager.
Here, in Linden thal, is the new kingdom of a certain Harald “Toni” Schumacher, who four years ago swapped his shorts for a sharp suit: “I’ve always liked to dress well”.
Bright, airy rooms let sunshine flood into the conference rooms of Sports First, the Cologne sportsmarketing agency that Schumacher runs with his partner, Markus Bockelkamp, a former sports journalist.
A collection of photos (Schumacher with Maradona, Beckenbauer, Seeler) and trophies (two golden balls for two German player of the year awards, one silver ball for the second-best player at the 1986 FIFA World Cup™ in Mexico) reveal that someone who was popular during his career works here. Indeed, in 1986, he helped to carry West Germany to the World Cup final with his saves, punches and catches before, in one of the biggest games of his life, he made a mistake that cost his team a goal. That said, he has come to terms with it all now. “In 1982 and 1986, I wasn’t happy with second best,” he admits. “I felt like a loser but today I say, ‘come on, how many people have played in two consecutive World Cup finals?’”
He did have more luck on the European and domestic fronts though, finishing EURO 1980 in Italy – his first major tournament – with a winner’s medal. A replica of the German league trophy pays testimony to two successful campaigns, first with Cologne and later with Borussia Dortmund … but that is all in the past.
Schumacher is one of very few former footballers who can say that they have made a success of a career in a completely different walk of life. Cologne’s training ground, where Schumacher spent many an hour during his playing days, lies barely a kilometre away from the four-storey building that houses Sports First on the third and fourth floors. Berrenrather Strasse is a stone’s throw from Durener Strasse, but still he sees no reason to be nostalgic, even though he always dreamt of one day being president at “his club”. “Nobody ever asked me,” says the 54-year-old who, somewhat surprisingly, talks without a hint of regret in his voice.
Schumacher is as active in his “third life” as he was when he was between the posts. As part of a 16-strong agency, the German legend is now one of the best in his field, as proven by the agency’s successful courting, despite huge competition, of Russian energy giants and Schalke sponsors Gazprom, a company that has improved its image and reputation thanks to Sports First.
But it is not all about Gazprom. Whether it is Postbank (a Official Supplier of the 2006 FIFA World Cup™), Talanx AG (the third-largest insurance company in Germany) or Heristo Holding (the worldwide food manufacturer is the majority shareholder and main sponsor of leading German handball team TBV Lemgo), the agency’s portfolio makes impressive reading. “Anyone who wants to advertise in football should come to us,” insists Schumacher. “We are investment advisers, but we are also footballers – we just don’t wear shorts anymore.”
From a coppersmith from Duren to a leading player in the cut-throat world of commerce, Schumacher’s route to the top has been long and successful, but not exactly direct. In 1987, shortly after publishing his autobiography Anpfiff (“Kick-off”), Schumacher was forced out of Cologne as well as the West German national team. His travels took him to Schalke, Turkey (where he won the league with Fenerbahce), Bayern Munich and finally to Borussia Dortmund where he won his second German championship medal by playing in the final match of the season, which was also to prove his swansong as a 42-year-old.
Life after football began as you might expect: Schumacher entered coaching with a short, unsuccessful spell at second-division outfit Fortuna Cologne sandwiched in between roles as goalkeeping coach at Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen. It was during his time at Fortuna that he first crossed paths with Bockelkamp. Just a few years later, the former Bildreporter encouraged Schumacher to start a new career by asking: “Do you still want to be standing around in shorts at the age of 60, firing shots at goal and then letting doctors remove water from your shattered knee? Use your contacts, your network, your big mouth, your experience, your popularity.”
Schumacher took the plunge and admits that he needed a year to find his feet. Looking back, he recognises that it was “exactly the kind of challenge” he needed. Once up and running, he was quickly hungry for more, to the point where he is now fully committed to his job. “I needed to learn,” he says. “But I did so with 100 per cent commitment.” Just as he did at his clubs, with just one rather significant difference: “All of this is mine”.
There can be no doubt that Schumacher is a 54-year-old who can look back on a successful career. Even so, he has no intention of calling it a day just yet. “It’s just too much fun,” he says. Schumacher combines his skill with what he learnt in football, an area he knows all too well. He also gets to know people, bringing them together, talking to them, persuading them, negotiating with them and arguing his point. “I’ve always been open and eloquent,” he explains. “I’m simply using my skills.”
His spare time is invariably spent at his house on the banks of the Rhine in Cologne with his wife, Jasmin, and his young daughter, Perla Marie. Once his daughter is tucked up in bed, he treats himself to a bottle of fine Australian red wine from his cellar, which his mother-in-law, who lives “Down Under”, keeps well-stocked. “It is tasty and an uncomplicated wine,” he says.
That said, spare time is something of a rarity as Schumacher the wine enthusiast seldom replaces Schumacher the businessman. Schumacher the pundit is another “alter ego” that he enjoys, whether for TV channel ZDF, sportl.de or for major football publications. His opinion is always in demand, especially now that discussions are once again raging about who should be in goal for Germany at EURO 2008. One thing is for sure: Schumacher never pulls any punches with his comments. That is how he has always been. That is how he has come so far. The many diversions along the way have not harmed him.