Munich - In front of every great orchestra stands a great conductor - a born leader with that innate ability to squeeze every last morsel from his troupe. For FC Bayern Munich, that man is Matthias Sammer.
He might not pull the strings on the pitch, but make no mistake about it, he is the one who bangs the drum behind the scenes - and how.
It took Bayern just eight months to restore order in the Bundesliga kingdom last term, wrapping up the iconic plate in record time before completing an historic treble with success in the UEFA Champions League and DFB Cup.
By anyone else's standards, it could not get any better. But for the Red Baron, said feat was simply a case of job done. "I'm of the opinion that, when you work for Bayern Munich, it is your obligation to succeed," he told The Official Bundesliga Magazine. "When others are content, I'm always setting new goals […] Ambition is what motivates me - the will to succeed. That's how I work." His CV is testament to that.
The former defensive sweeper shot to fame, ironically enough, at Borussia Dortmund, winning three Bundesliga titles and the club's maiden Champions League title in, of all places, Munich. After his career was cut short by a serious knee injury in 1998, the 45-year-old moved into coaching, with an equal measure of success, guiding BVB to a sixth Bundesliga crown in 2002.
In 2006, he took on sporting director duties at the DFB (German Football Association), where he would oversee the development of Germany's golden generation and shake the landscape of the national game to its very foundations.
As Sammer's tenure at the DFB came to an end, Bayern Munich - in need of a serious pick-me-up after playing second fiddle to Dortmund for two seasons running - made their move. "We want to be, we must be and we will be immediately successful," he declared at the time of his July 2012 appointment as sporting director - and he kept his word.
Bayern enjoyed a new lease of life in 2012/13, with summer signings Dante, Javi Martinez and Mario Mandzukic slotting in seamlessly. Tying up Martinez, a player whose transfer fee raised many an eyebrow, may not have been possible without the resolve of Bayern's steely East German superior.
Sammer was again involved in January 2013 as Bayern pulled off the coaching coup of the year to lure Pep Guardiola to the Allianz Arena, uniting two men with success seemingly sown into their DNA. "As a player, I was told: 'You must be a leader – the captain'," said Sammer. "I think authority is important. Not total authority so to speak, but a natural authority […] I try to give Bayern all the things I've learned."
Those leadership skills could be seen in a variety of guises over the course of the campaign. When Bayern dismantled Hamburger SV 9-2 on Matchday 27, rather than eulogise over the emphatic result, Sammer went for the jugular. "It was a decent performance, but the opposing goals are frustrating. That can't happen again." And it didn't. Bayern romped over the finish line; a crescendo almost a year in the making.
Did they celebrate? Eventually. One flick of the Sammer baton ensured the party would be put on hold until the Munich ensemble had penned that final winning note in the . Sammer's Symphony was well worth the wait.