Giovane Elber won four Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich between 1997 and 2003
Giovane Elber won four Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich between 1997 and 2003

Elber urges Bayern to respond

Munich - As a veteran of four Bundesliga titles, three DFB Cups and UEFA Champions League glory, Giovane Elber ranks among the most decorated players in the history of Germany's most famous football club, FC Bayern Munich.

Withdrawal symptoms

The former Brazil striker netted 92 goals in 169 league appearances for the Bavarians during a hugely successful six-year spell either side of the millennium, becoming one of the Bundesliga's best-loved players not just in Munich, but throughout the country.

After bringing to his career to a close with spells in France, Brazil and another stop in Germany with Borussia Mönchengladbach in between, the affable Elber embarked on a number of new projects, including the Giovane Elber Foundation for underprivileged children in his homeland and a working farm back home, not to mention activities as an ambassador for various events, most recently the Champions League final in Munich in May.

Indeed, as he told in an exclusive interview, life continues to treat the FCB favourite well, though after a three-and-a-half-month break - albeit with UEFA EURO 2012 and the Olympics to plug the gap - Elber is itching for the new Bundesliga season to begin, especially after the pain endured by Bayern at the end of last term.

Second best

Not only were the Munich Reds bested domestically by Borussia Dortmund in both the Bundesliga and the DFB Cup, they were also, even more traumatically, pipped to Champions League glory on penalties by Chelsea - in front of their own fans.

"In my opinion, Bayern deserved to win the Champions League last season," said Elber. "They played very well in the final, created a lot of chances, but in the end it wasn't enough. They were very unlucky. It was a shame they didn't win anything, but ultimately nobody can accuse them of doing too little."

"Fight to the end"

Nonetheless, patience down at Bayern's Säbener Straße offices is wearing thin after a second consecutive season without a trophy. A third would be catastrophic, according to Elber: "That can't be allowed to happen under normal circumstances. With a squad like that, you have to be playing for titles."

Bayern have invested heavily over the summer in a bid to go the extra mile, but Elber reckons the most important lesson they can learn from last season is that it isn't over until it's over: "Bayern were doing well [in the league] and Dortmund were behind them, then suddenly things changed around and it was Bayern doing the chasing. This time they have to work hard right to the end."

Andy James