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Sentiment on all sides in Podolski’s Cologne move
Bayern’s decision to let the 23-year-old Podolski go back to the club he came from three years ago, once the current season is over, is an astonishing move from the Bavarians, who could probably have earned a far more handsome return on the Germany striker from another club abroad or even a wealthier Bundesliga side.
In all the years I’ve been watching Bayern’s transfer moves, I’ve never seen anything like this. Has Bayern sporting director Uli Hoeness grown soft in the twilight of his career?
But who could forget the scene in Cologne in September when Podolski set up one goal and scored a second after coming on for the final half hour to lead Bayern to a 3-0 win — and more than 50,000 Cologne fans cheered Poldi’s 90th minute goal against their team. Cologne players and Bayern managers were incensed, according to German media reports. It was an amazing scene.
In Cologne, Germany’s fourth largest city and the country’s party capital, the “Frohnaturs” on the Rhine were celebrating his return more than a week ago, well before the deal was finally agreed. Last Saturday more than 700 people paid 10 euros admission for a “Poldi Comeback” party at a local castle.
Cologne has been passing the hat for the last year, trying to scrap together money for the transfer for the player who started his career with them at the age of 11 and made his Bundesliga debut at 18. Cologne native Michael Schumacher was even asked recently in a tribute to his 40th birthday if he planned to donate a million euros or two to the Bring-Poldi-Home campaign.
One of the 40 questions from celebrities to Schumacher in a newspaper article was from the Cologne mascot, Hennes the billy goat: “Are you going to give money so we can pay for Poldi?” the goat was quoted asking Schumacher, who replied: “I didn’t know Hennes could talk? I don’t believe it. But if he can deliver the question personally to me, we can talk about it.”
Cologne, down in 11th place after being promoted back to the top flight this year, are hardly a threat to Bayern.
Yet why are they letting “Prince Poldi” go for a relative pittance when they could have commanded a royal sum elsewhere?
PHOTO: A Cologne fan holds a placard reading ‘Bring back Prince Poldi’ before her team’s Bundesliga match against Hoffenheim in Cologne. Nov. 22, 2008. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay