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Bayer boss Carro: “We are an even more attractive address in Europe”

Bayer boss Carro: “We are an even more attractive address in Europe”

His mother once gave Spanish lessons to Udo Lattek and Hans Krankl. Bayer Leverkusen manager Fernando Carro on his late entry into the football business – and how he wants to keep Bayer at the top of Europe.

Mr Carro, Bayer Leverkusen moves into the final of the Europa League. When you took over as manager in 2018, you said: I want the club to win titles, I want us to be among the best 20 clubs in Europe. Did you seriously believe at the time that you could achieve these goals?
Of course I believed it. Maybe I was too aggressive in setting external goals at the beginning. Every defeat is held up to you publicly like a mirror. Oh, didn’t you want to become a champion? they say. But I was very sure that there was a lot of potential in this club.

You came into football as a career changer at the age of 53. Previously, you were a manager at the media group Bertelsmann for more than 20 years, which included the star heard. How were you received as someone outside the industry who had never played a Bundesliga game?
I have always had stable self-confidence. With Rudi Völler (long-time sports director and managing director Sports at Bayer 04, note d. Red.) I quickly found a basis. Rudi recognized that Bayer 04 could benefit from my skills, and at the same time I was able to learn a lot from him with all his experience in the football business. It was an excellent symbiosis.

Nevertheless: In a vain industry like football, which recruits its executives primarily from former players, didn’t anyone turn up their noses when you came?
I don’t know that. In any case, I wasn’t completely inexperienced with people who are at the center of sporting events. I grew up in Barcelona and came into close contact with Hans Krankl and Udo Lattek through my family.

© Federico Gambarini

To person

Fernando Carro, 59, took over the management of the Bayer 04 Leverkusen club in 2018. He was previously a manager at the Bertelsmann media group. Born and raised in Barcelona, ​​Carro attended the German School there, became an industrial clerk at BASF in Spain and later studied industrial engineering in Karlsruhe. Carro is married and has three children.

Krankl, two goalscorer in Austria’s 3-2 win against Germany at the 1978 World Cup. The disgrace of Cordoba – from a German perspective. Where did the contact come from?
My mother, who worked at a German school in Barcelona, ​​gave him and his wife Inge Spanish lessons. After the World Cup in Argentina, Barca brought Hans from Rapid Vienna. He was new in town and we became friends. I often played tennis with Hans.

A teenager of 14 against a grown man. Did you have a chance?
Most of the time I beat Hans. We played again later, when he was around 50 and I was almost 40 years old. But it was almost always clear.

How is your relationship today?
Wonderful, nothing has ever changed. The friendship has lasted for more than four decades. I was a guest at his daughters’ weddings and his 70th birthday last year.

Looking back: Was it this special relationship with Krankl that got you excited about football?
No, that goes back further. As a small child, I was a fan of FC Barcelona; everything for me revolved around sport, especially football, tennis and athletics. Those were my great passions.

You later studied industrial engineering in Karlsruhe and headed the Arvato service division at Bertelsmann. Everything in terms of content is far removed from your passions.
When I came to Bertelsmann in 1993, I wanted to work for the Ufa Sports company, which owned the sports rights. But they said: Forget that, you can’t learn anything there. But that hasn’t dampened my love for sports. Later, when I was head of the book club in Spain, I published numerous sports books. Football, Formula 1, tennis, the full range.

Now, as managing director of the German champions Bayer Leverkusen, you are very close to big sport – and close to Xabi Alonso, currently the most sought-after football coach in the world. Is there something like a conexión española between you, the Catalan, and Alonso, the Basque?
It certainly helps that we speak the same language. But the main reason why Xabi feels comfortable at Bayer 04 is that he appreciates the atmosphere, reliability and professionalism of the club.

Bayer Leverkusen has become an attractive address in Europe

The whole of football Europe is looking at the Leverkusen team this week, which dethroned the eternal champions Bayern Munich. How do you want to prevent your best players from being bought away by the competition?
We have lost players in the past because they believed that Bayer Leverkusen couldn’t win titles. That has now been refuted. We have become an even more attractive address in Europe. Fundamentally, nothing has changed in the balance of power in German football – despite our success. FC Bayern has approximately three times the budget available to us. It will be a challenge to stay at the top.

Again: What can you do to prevent the championship team from being torn apart?
We still have two competitions left, the Europa League and the DFB Cup. This is not the right time to speculate about departures. We want to keep as many players as possible. They all made a huge contribution to this historically successful season.

Other teams that were able to briefly break Bayern’s dominance over the past twenty years, such as Stuttgart, Wolfsburg or Dortmund, have subsequently fallen deeply. What can you do to avoid this?
The most important thing is a certain continuity in key positions in the organization. This is guaranteed with us. Xabi Alonso will do his work here next year, just like Simon Rolfes and I. This increases the likelihood that we will continue to play a strong role next season and beyond.

Source: Stern

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