It’s a deal! Bayern Munich heavyweights Uli Hoeneß and Philipp Lahm (l-r.) are just two Bundesliga legends to have moved into the world of business after their playing careers. - © imago/MIS
It’s a deal! Bayern Munich heavyweights Uli Hoeneß and Philipp Lahm (l-r.) are just two Bundesliga legends to have moved into the world of business after their playing careers. - © imago/MIS
bundesliga

Lukas Podolski, Philipp Lahm and the Bundesliga stars with a head for business

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They may not have had to endure the scrutiny of the panel on Shark Tank or Dragons’ Den, but our collection of footballing entrepreneurs nonetheless proved their business acumen off the field to invest in, or form, flourishing companies.

From hygiene to fashion, sausages to advertising, many famous players and directors who have graced the Bundesliga have tried their hand at the world of commerce, with several enjoying plenty of success along the way.

Take former Germany and Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm, for example. The 2014 FIFA World Cup winner will no doubt have had to tolerate the inevitable nostril-flaring scent of the post-match dressing room many a time during his successful playing days.

It was perhaps not for that reason that the medal-laden ex-full-back and midfielder decided to become a shareholder in Sixtus, the cosmetics manufacturer that specialises in products aimed at athletes. It was more likely the Bavarian company's balms, lotions and oils that proved the selling point.

A World Cup-winning captain during his career, Philipp Lahm has now branched out into the world of business. - imago/VI Images

The Munich native would later expand his portfolio into foodstuff with Schneekoppe, which specialises in glutenfree produce, and digital medical examination provider Danova.

Care products, food and check-ups, how about apps? Lahm also opted to dip his talented toes into the world of social media and become involved in a Berlin-based start-up network called Fanmiles. The project aims to reward fans for their loyalty to various celebrities.

Who ex-Wolfsburg duo Christian Träsch and Marcel Schäfer, and Augsburg's Daniel Baier might deem as their favourite celebrities is a question for another day, yet this clever trio conjured up their very own app, which is also proving popular. 'Dein Team' – or Your Team, as it's called – looks to cater for the digital wants and needs of sports teams from all walks of life. "The world's becoming increasingly digitalised," Träsch explained of the project. "The app makes everything a lot easier.”

The idea of players probing the business world for opportunities is, of course, nothing new. The one-time Borussia Mönchengladbach and Real Madrid attacking midfielder, Günter Netzer, once ran a disco-bar called ‘Lovers Lane’ in his native city. "Strangely enough, my best [playing] form came when I had that disco-bar," Netzer recalled. The former West Germany star also acknowledged that his coach at Gladbach "almost fainted" on hearing of the venture.

Günter Netzer (l.) almost made former Gladbach coach Udo Lattek (r.) faint with his business venture. - imago/Rust

Goalkeepers have always had to palm away assumptions relating to a lack of sanity, but Oliver Kahn and Robert 'Bobby' Dekeyser proved their level-headedness once their respective playing careers came to an end.

Former Bayern king Kahn now trains goalkeepers online via the start-up, 'Goalplay,' while Dekeyser used time spent nursing a facial injury to conjure up the company Dedon. The Belgian-born entrepreneur – once on the books at Bayern, Nuremberg, Genk and 1860 Munich – manufactures outdoor furniture and also runs a hotel in the Philippines.

NoFuchsGiven is the amusingly-titled fashion label created by current Leicester City full-back Christian Fuchs. The former Austria international, Mainz and Schalke defender creates t-shirts and caps for a variety of tastes.

A far cry from Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund Bundesliga winner Karl-Heinz Riedle, who owns a children's football camp and hotel in Oberstaufen. Part of the Germany side that triumphed at the 1990 FIFA World Cup and later a Champions League winner at BVB, Riedle also owns a sports and events agency.

Dortmund legend Karl-Heinz Riedle is the owner of a hotel in Austria. - imago/Sportfoto Rudel

As one of very few players to have lined up for Dortmund and Schalke, Christoph Metzelder helped to create the Jung von Matt sports agency while Gladbach, Bayern and HSV defender Marcel Jansen came up with GymJunky, which markets nutrition and sportswear.

Former Hamburg and Mainz midfielder Nigel De Jong runs Continental Cars, a Hamburg-based dealership that trades in high-end automobiles and counts on fellow footballers among its clients. "Some people say footballers are thick and not bright enough to be entrepreneurs," De Jong once said. "But when I see that a company has potential, I move the borders and go all the way for it."

Former Cologne favourite Lukas Podolski recently returned to the city to open his own kebab shop. While on the subject of food, current Gladbach midfielder Jonas Hofmann has recently taken charge of a chain of Subway sandwich shops in and around his hometown of Heidelberg, which is not far from where former Bundesliga top scorer Mario Basler opened a shisha bar in June 2019.

Cologne native Lukas Podolski has opened a kebab shop in his hometown that is always busy. - imago/Eibner

The firm of HoWe Wurstwaren would not exist without current Bayern president and 1974 world champion Uli Hoeneß and his business partner. The successful sausage factory produces Rostbratwurst that are specific to the Nuremberg region, as well as providing supplies for Munich’s Oktoberfest.

It's a tasty end to our tales of entrepreneurial ingenuity that proves it doesn't have to be all about the game for those involved in high-level football.