50 Greatest Bayern Munich Players of All Time

Stefan BienkowskiFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2013

50 Greatest Bayern Munich Players of All Time

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    As Bayern Munich began their new era under Pep Guardiola with a flutter of victories in the opening stages of this season's Bundesliga, the question has arisen over just how this current crop of Euro-conquering stars compares to the long list of Bayern greats that have blessed the club over its 113 years.

    Bastian Schweinsteiger or Mehmet Scholl? Mario Gomez or Alex Meier? Willy Sagnol or Philipp Lahm? All these questions and more will be answered as we look through the decades of Bayern brilliance and come to a conclusive answer as to who were the best players to ever play for the Bavarian giants. 

    So sit back, relax, and enjoy as we dive straight in to the history books and take a look at the 50 greatest Bayern Munich players of all time. 

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    50. Dietmar Hamann

    We kick of our list with a player more likely to be remembered for his heroics in the red of Liverpool, yet the young German midfielder began his career at Bayern, where he played over 100 games for the Bavarian side, picking up five major trophies before making a name for himself in England. 

     

    49. Norbert Eder

    A crucial member of Bayern's defence throughout the late '80s, Eder signed for the club at the ripe age of 29 years old. Although more regarded as a Nurnberg player throughout his career, his late stint in Munich won him three Bundesliga titles and a DFB Pokal trophy in just four years. 

     

    48. Alan McInally

    Nicknamed "Big Mac" by the Munich faithful, McInally was brought to Bayern as a luxury signing to take their fortunes further afield in Europe. Although they never won the coveted trophy with the towering Scot, he did help the Bavarian side win the Bundesliga title in his first season before ultimately succumbing to injury.  

     

    47. Thomas Muller

    Befitting of the honour as the first current squad member to make it on the top 50, Thomas Muller best depicts a player who looks far wiser and much more useful than most at his age. Despite only being 23 years old he has already played five seasons for the Reds, winning four domestic titles and a Champions League trophy in the process. 

     

    46. Johnny Hansen

    Famously remembered as the first player to score in a Bundesliga match at the Olympic Stadium in Munich, Hansen was a formidable right-back for Bayern and earned no less than three European cups and three Bundesliga titles in his six year stint at the club. 

     

    45. Jupp Kapellmann

    Signed by Bayern Munich for 802,000 Deutsche Mark from FC Koln in the summer of 1973, a German record at the time, Kapellmann made sure the club got their money's worth as a consistent squad player during his six-year spell at the club when he won five major tournaments for the club and German national team.  

     

    44. Rainer Zobel 

    Zobel was a midfielder who played during the '70s for Bayern Munich in a squad full of world stars. Despite this, he made 180 appearances his six seasons at the club and was part of the squad that won the European Cup on three seperate occasions.

     

    43. Thomas Helmer

    A sweeper who played for both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich during his career, Helmer was integral to Bayern's side during the nineties, winning three Bundesliga titles as well as acquiring two DFB Pokal Cups.

     

    42. Jean-Marie Pfaff

    The Belgian goalkeeper was a regular first choice for Bayern during the eighties with 156 appearances over the course of six seasons where he picked up three Bundesliga titles and two DFB Pokal Cups. 

     

    41. Juergen Klinsmann

    Although never regarded as a Bayern favourite by himself or the Munich faithful, Klinsmaan had a very successful time at Bayern once his stint with Tottenham Hotspur was over. With 31 goals in 65 appearances, the German coach-to-be picked up a Bundesliga title and UEFA Cup in his two brief seasons. 

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    40. Roque Santa Cruz

    Although never a great goalscorer for Bayern during his 10 years at the club, the Paraguayan striker was incredibly instrumental at winning games and picking up trophies. Despite only scoring an average of six goals a season, he won five Bundesliga titles at the club as well as a Champions League trophy.

     

    39. Miroslav Klose

    Still regarded as a mainstay in the German national team, Miroslav Klose was a class act in front of goal for Bayern between 2007 and 2011, scoring 52 goals over the course of his four seasons at the club. In that time he won five major trophies and reached the Champions League final.

     

    38. Cristian Nerlinger

    An emphatic goal-scoring midfielder who'll always be remembered for his intelligence on the ball and the role he played in that famous Bayern side of the '90s. The high point will of course be the side's UEFA Cup win over Bordeaux in 1996, in which Nerlinger played a vital part in helping Bayern achieve such a feat. 

     

    37. Werner Olk

    One of Bayern's most famous captains prior to the Golden age of the mid-'70s, Olk played 266 times for the first team as the club moved up the divisions from the Oberliga Süd to the German Bundesliga. His honours include three DFB Pokal cups, one Bundesliga title and a solitary award for the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1967. 

     

    36. Claudio Pizarro

    As the second current Bayern player on the list, Pizarro is well remembered for his earlier stint at the club in which he scored 101 goals over the course of just six seasons, making him the most prolific ever goalscorer for a foreigner in the Bundesliga. While at Bayern, he has picked up eight domestic trophies as well as last season's Champions League trophy. 

     

    35. Roy Makaay

    Another foreign striker who felt right at home in Munich was Dutch forward Roy Makaay who scored 102 goals in 178 games for Bayern Munich. Famously signed after scoring a hat-trick against Bayern for Deportivo in the 2002-03 Champions League, Makaay put his goal scoring to good use in Germany, picking up four domestic titles in as many years. 

     

    34. Owen Hargreaves

    Still only the second Englishman to win a Champions League trophy with a foreign club, Owen Hargreaves may as well be regarded as German when we consider his upbringing at the club. Coming through the youth teams, Hargreaves made a total of 145 senior appearances for the club, winning four Bundesliga titles, three DFB Pokal trophies and the Champions League in 2001 before moving on to Manchester United

     

    33. Mario Basler

    A wonderfully gifted winger who perhaps didn't win as much as a player of his calibre should have, yet what Basler did at Bayern during his brief spell at the club was simply marvellous. He won two Bundesliga titles and a DFB Pokal Cup in as may seasons at the club but will perhaps be best remembered for that wonderful free-kick to open the scoring against Manchester United in that fateful Champions League final in 1999. 

     

    32. Markus Babbel

    Again, another player perhaps more notable to our English readers for his success in the Premier League, yet Markus Babbel was a very good Bayern Munich player before he made the move. In six seasons the powerful full-back won three Bundesliga titles and a UEFA Cup trophy in 1996, as well as a runners-up medal in the aforementioned Champions League final in 1999.  

    31. Jens Jeremies 

    The formidable defensive midfielder who made 180 appearances for Bayern during the late nineties until the mid noughties. Although he missed out on the ultimate prize in 2001 after being suspended for the Champions League final, he was still invaluable to the side reaching such a stage, and won his fair share of trophies elsewhere for Bayern throughout his time at the club. 

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    30. Mario Gomez

    Although not everyone's cup of tea, Mario Gomez simply forces himself upon this list with a goal-scoring record that is simply impossible to match at this stage in the rankings. With 75 goals in 115 games for the Reds, Gomez helped the side to four domestic trophies as well as the assault on last season's Champions League success. 

     

    29. Willy Sagnol

    As the right-back that preceded Philipp Lahm in the great Bayern side of the noughties, Sangol played 184 senior games for Bayern Munich and defined himself as one of the best full-backs of his generation with five Bundesliga titles and the Champions League trophy in 2001.

     

    28. Arjen Robben

    Although considered by many as lazy and inconsistent, the Dutchman's ability to simply dance by any defender in the world was a pivotal ploy in Bayern's success in the Champions League last season. Add to that four domestic trophies at the club in as many years and you have a man who'll go down in history as an excellent Bayern Munich player. 

     

    27. Raimond Aumann

    Aumann was the great Bayern keeper of the '80s with 216 appearances for the club during that period. While between the sticks for the club his side went on to win six Bundesliga championships. 

     

    26. Hasan Salihamidzic

    As a truly favoured son of Bayern Munich, Hasan Salihamidzic joined the club from Hamburg in 1998 and cemented himself as one of the fan favourites over the course of a nine-year stint that saw the club win 10 domestic titles and reach two Champions League finals. 

     

    25. Udo Horsmann

    One of the lesser-known players of Bayern's golden era in the '70s, Horsmann was a German defender who made over 229 appearances for the club and reached three European finals, winning one as well as three domestic trophies. 

     

    24. Mark van Bommel

    Despite only winning two Bundesliga titles and two DFB Pokal Cups, van Bommel was an outstanding defensive midfielder for Bayern Munich and eventually went on to captain the side during his five years at the club. 

     

    23. Roland Wohlfarth

    An under appreciated striker for Bayern in the late '80s and early '90s who led their goal-scoring charts in the 1989 and 1991 seasons. During his time at the club he scored 119 goals in 254 appearances. 

     

    22. Hans Pfluegler 

    A German defender who was Bayern through and through, Pfluegler made over 400 appearances for the club over the course of his career, winning eight domestic titles but ultimately missing out on the European Cup in 1987.

     

    21. Bernd Duernberger

    Bernd Duernberger played 357 games in the heart of Bayern's defensive midfield over the course of a 13 year career that saw the midfielder win 11 major trophies. Although he never got the recognition he should have got from West Germany, he will always be remembered as a Bayern legend. 

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    20. Franz Roth

    Well regarded as one of Bayern's greatest ever big-game players, Roth scored in three European finals throughout his time at the club, ensuring the Bavarian side victory in each one. One of the most decorated players to have ever played for the club.

     

    19. Lucio

    Although it was Mark van Bommel that succeeded Oliver Kahn's captaincy, it was the towering Brazilian defender who truly continued Kahn's legacy of brute force and physical intimidation as Bayern marched on to three consecutive Bundesliga titles under his watch.

     

    18. Franck Ribery

    Quite simply one of the best modern-day forwards to ever play for Bayern Munich. His touch, skill and intelligence on the left-hand side of current front three has forced most skeptics to consider him alongside Lionel Messi and Ronaldo as one of the best in the world. A truly world-class talent. 

     

    17. Ze Roberto

    Despite only spending four years at Bayern Munich, the Brazilian central midfielder picked up no less than 10 trophies while dominating matches in Germany and across the Continent. Eventually forced out through Felix Magath, Ze Roberto is still regarded as one of the best midfielders of the club's modern history. 

     

    16. Bixente Lizarazu

    Before David Alaba, Bayern Munich's last great left-back was Bixente Lizarazu. The French international was a mainstay in the side of the late noughties as he won 10 domestic trophies for the Bavarian side as well as the 2001 Champions League.

     

    15. Michael Ballack 

    Despite an unfortuntate reputation of having disastrous luck when it came to important finals, Ballack managed to pick up seven trophies in his four years at Bayern. Although he never won the Champions League for Bayern or the World Cup for Germany, he was a consistent world-class player for both.

     

    14. Bastian Schweinsteiger

    The undisputed face of modern Bayern has finally made his name among the greats with last season's Champions League success and domestic double. Despite only being 29 years old, the midfielder has already played over 300 games for his local side and won 17 trophies in the process. 

     

    13. Philipp Lahm

    Arguably the greatest captain Bayern Munich and Germany have ever seen, Philipp Lahm has also defined himself as one of the most consistent right-backs in modern football. Alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger he epitomizes the success of modern Bayern and is a truly world-class player. 

     

    12. Klaus Augenthaler

    A central defender who truly took over from Franz Beckenbaur's Libero legacy once Der Kaiser had moved on to pastures new. Although picking up more Bundesliga titles than his famous predecessor, Augenthaler never got his hands on old big ears, missing out on European Cup success on two occasions in 1982 and 1987.

     

    11. Mehmet Scholl

    As quite simply one of the best playmakers to grace Bayern Munich over the past 20 years, Mehmet Scholl played for the German side for 15 consecutive seasons, winning on average one trophy per season. A loyal servant to the club who'll always be remembered as a favourite in the stands and on the pitch. 

10. Sepp Maier

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    The first player in our top 10 is also one of the most famous to have ever graced the Munich side. The legendary goalkeeper Sepp Maier. 

    Famous for his unquestionable loyalty to Bayern, Maier played a grand total of 536 games for the Munich side throughout his 17 year career, with an incredible record of playing 442 of those games consecutively without fail. 

    Within that never-ending tale Maier won all there was throughout the sport with four Bundesliga titles, four DFB Pokal Cups, three European Cups, one Cup Winners' Cup and of course the European Championships in 1972 and World Cup in 1974 for West Germany. As well as the German Player of the Year ward in 1975, 1977 and 1978.

    Alongside Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller, the goalkeeper is regarded as one third of Bayern's local holy trinity that went on to take over the world for their local club. 

9. Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck

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    It's sometimes said that the most gruesome of fates in sport is to finish second. In the case of former Bayern Munich defender Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, that could certainly be considered. 

    Forever regarded as no more than the man who stood beside Franz Beckenbauer throughout Bayern Munich's golden era, Schwarzenbeck has gone down as one of the most dangerously underrated players to have ever played the sport. 

    As an outstanding defender in his own right, the German international won six Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich as well as three DFB Pokal and European Cups between the period of 1968 to 1976.

    Although he never played as many games for West Germany as Der Kaiser, Schwarzenbeck was there in Belgium in 1972 when they won the European Championship and on the field alongside the favoured Libero in the Olympiastadion in May 1974 when the hosts overcame Holland for the World Cup trophy. 

    Although never as intelligent on the ball as Beckenbauer or as skilful a sweeper as Lothar Matthaus, Schwarzenbeck was quite simply one of the best defenders to have ever played for Bayern Munich and as such deserves his name on this list. 

8. Uli Hoeness

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    Although never regarded as one of the most prolific or outstanding strikers to ever grace the front line of Bayern Munich, during his brief spell as a professional player between 1970 and '79, Uli Hoeness was an excellent servant for the club during it's most profitable decade. 

    Picking up a grand total of three European Cups, three Bundesliga titles, a DFB Pokal Cup and a single Intercontinental Cup during his time as a Bayern forward, Hoeness netted an impressive 86 goals in 239 appearances. 

    Unfortunately, glory on the pitch wasn't his to be had and following a horrific knee injury in late 1978, the talented striker was forced to retire at the age of 27. 

    What pulls Hoeness up in to the glorious company of Bayern greats is of course what followed the injury when the forward immediately became the club's commercial and marketing manager and truly turned the German side in to the commercial entity that it is today. 

    Before Hoeness was made general manager in 1979, Bayern Munich had only won seven major trophies in its entire history, yet in the years to follow leading up to modern day the club have won an incredible 15 Bundesliga titles, seven domestic cups and five European trophies.

    Without Hoeness, the majestic Allianz Arena and the world-leading club that it represents simply wouldn't exist. For the past 34 years Uli Hoeness has been what we know as Bayern Munich. Making him one of its most important past players of all.

7. Stefan Effenberg

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    In one of the most bizarre career paths ever taken by one of the Bayern greats, Stefan Effenberg began his time at the Bavarian club during a two-year spell between 1990 and '92 after a standout season at Gladbach the year before. 

    Nicknamed "Der Tiger" for his ferocious personality on and off the pitch, Effenberg struggled to get on with Bayern coach at the time, a Mr Jupp Henyckes, and was consequently forced to move on to another club upon the re-signing of Lothar Matthaus. 

    However, "Effe" only truly began his career at Bayern upon his return in 1998 when he returned to the club as much a character as he was when he left, yet when made captain his true talent finally appeared to the Munich faithful as he led that famous side to three Bundesliga titles and two European Cup finals in the space of four years. 

    His crowning moment will undoubtedly be the penalty he scored to equalise against Valencia in a 2001 Champions League final that Bayern would eventually go on to win, securing a trophy that had haunted them since 1976 and most notably two years prior in that famous defeat to Manchester United. 

    His passion, whether good or bad, was a personality trait that found itself instilled in the club at that time and as such Bayern Munich will always be defined by this great player whenever we look back at their achievements during this period in history. 

6. Paul Breitner

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    Despite a long and successful career, it was a particular four-year stint between 1970 and 1974 that truly defined the legendary status of Paul Breitner. 

    In those four years, the roaming full-back or box-to-box midfielder won three Bundesliga titles, one DFB Pokal Cup and the European Cup with Bayern Munich, as well as the European Championships in 1972 and the World Cup with West Germany in 1974. 

    It was his generation that truly defined what the modern Bayern Munich means to European football as the young full-back his company of stars established the grounding for the Munich side as they would go on to win a further two European cups in the next two years. 

    If it was not for his move to Real Madrid in 1974, in which we won two league titles and a Copa del Rey in this three year stint, the German international would have probably kept his integral position in the Bayern side as they marched on to European domination. 

    Yet it was not to be and despite returning to Bayern in 1978, it seemed as though his luck had run out when the side failed to win the European Cup in 1981 and his national side capitulated in the World Cup final of 1982. 

    A Bayern legend no doubt, who will always be remembered for those four magical years. 

5. Lothar Matthaus

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    As the only player to hold a FIFA World Player of the Year trophy in the top 50 list, and subsequently still the only German to win the coveted award, Lothar Matthaus swaggers into the top 10 with a list of achievements that could well stand alongside any player. 

    The one defining feature throughout the midfielder's career was of course his longevity and the incredible amount of tournaments in which he was able to take part in. Along with his 302 appearances for Bayern Munich, Matthaus also took part in five separate World Cups and four European Championships for the German national team. 

    In his first sting at Bayern, the German international played as a box-to-box midfielder were he picked up three Bundesliga titles, yet it wasn't until his return to the club in 1992, then aged 31 years, that Matthaus became renowned for his role as Bayern's sweeper as they picked up another four Bundesliga titles, two DFB Pokal cups, a UEFA Cup and reached the final of the 1999 Champions League, where they eventually lost to Manchester United. 

    It was that final and the competition as a whole that seemed to continuously evade the Bayern legend, and as such the player is now regularly regarded for his performances for the German national team, particularly the World Cup win in 1990, over what he did in his club career. 

4. Oliver Kahn

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    Very few players reach a level in their careers were simple silverware becomes insignificant in comparison to what they themselves come to represent. 

    With 429 senior appearances, in which he won eight Bundesliga titles, six DFB Pokal cups, one UEFA Cup and one Champions League trophy, Oliver Kahn is not only regarded as one of the best German goalkeepers of all time, but simply one of the best to have ever graced the sport. 

    In a position that is often overlooked in the modern game, Kahn's success as a player was to not only excel as a goalkeeper but to equally outperform all others on the pitch. As shown through his own personal achievements. 

    Over the course of his career the goalkeeper won four consecutive UEFA Best European Goalkeeper awards, two German footballer of the year awards and a solitary Golden Boot award in the 2002 World Cup for dragging a poor German national team to the final against Brazil. 

    It was this perseverance that defined the towering shot-stopper and puts him above most of his past counter-parts from a more golden age, who may stack up higher when it came to Continental or International trophies. 

    For 14 long, joyous years Oliver Kahn was Bayern Munich and as such he deserves his place among the greats. 

3. Gerd Muller

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    Although most will know this name as no more than the man Lionel Messi had to beat on his path to stardom, when the young demi-god overcame the German's record tally of goals scored in a calendar year with his own record last year, Gerd Muller is well regarded as one of, if not the best, goalscorers in the entire history of the sport. 

    398 goals in 453 games for Bayern Munich becomes even more impressive when we break it down to 66 goals in 74 European Cup games for the Bavarian champions as they went on to win three European Cups, one Intercontinental Cup and a solitary European Cup Winners' Cup with the prolific forward up front. 

    Equally, Der Bomber scored 68 goals in 62 appearances for West Germany as he led his nation to the European Championships in 1972 and the coveted World Cup in 1974. 

    Faster, sexier players have come and gone and in the likes of Lionel Messi and Ronaldo the once untouchable goal-scoring machine may have finally met his match, but when it comes to how the legendary striker scored his goals and the amount of silverware he amassed in doing so, the “kleines dickes Müller” (Short fat Muller) still stands above all else. 

2. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

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    Between the years of 1974 to 1984 Karl-Heinz Rummenigge played 310 games for Bayern Munich and scored 162 goals. As if that wasn't enough, within those 10 years, the forward managed to rack up eight trophies in the process, picking up as many European Cups as Bundesliga titles. 

    Impeccably skilled in the art of technique and flair, Rummenigge led the line for Bayern with an indirect genius that most modern fans would compare to Lionel Messi or even his regular opponent at the time, Diego Maradona. 

    Despite never truly getting the recognition from the international press that made players such Breitner, Muller and Franz Beckenbauer world stars, Rummenigge's brilliance finally shone through when he picked up the German footballer of the year award in 1980 and the European footballer of the year medal in 1981.

    In 1992, after seeing out the golden years of his career in Italy and Switzerland and a brief spell as a television pundit, Rummenigge took up a position at Bayern as their vice president. As he returned to the club once nicknamed "FC Breitnigge" as a homage to the two-man wonder show of Paul Breitner in midfield and Rummenigge up front, he would go on to become just as invaluable in the boardroom as he ever was on the pitch in returning the club to the pinnacle of European football. 

     

     

1. Franz Beckenbauer

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    Obvious to some, yet majestically deserving to all, "Der Kaiser" is undoubtedly the greatest player to ever ply his trade at Munich's famous club, if not throughout the entire sport. 

    With one World Cup, three European Cups, and four Bundesliga titles to his name, Beckenbauer not only stacks up an almighty trophy cabinet but also best epitomises the bygone era of German power in the beautiful game.

    As the famous story goes, the young defender was supposed to begin his career at TSV 1860 Munich before a dispute with the coach led the prodigy to turn his head to the next team in town. Once at Bayern, the young Beckenbauer kicked off his illustrious career at the age of 18 and never looked back. 

    Still noted as the only player to ever win three consecutive European Cups as captain of his side, Beckenbauer was the true force that drove Bayern and German football throughout the '70s. 

    His legacy will remain forever untouched in the halls of Bayern Munich and the national stadium, but where he truly left a mark was in the position that came to be known as his and his alone: the Libero.

    For the greatest compliment one can play to a former player isn't a reference to past trophies won, or golden goals scored, but the simple comparison to the next bright star who looks to live up to the promise of the past greats. 

    "He looks to play in the Beckenbauer role" is Der Kaiser's legacy, and that's what makes him the greatest Bayern Munich player ever.