The list of big characters to have played football alongside Mark Hughes is almost unparalleled. For club and country, Sparky shared a dressing room with the likes of Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Paul Ince, Peter Schmeichel, Neville Southall, Ruud Gullit and Gazza.
Yet in an exclusive interview with FourFourTwo following the release of The United Way, a new film which explores the history and culture of Manchester United, the former striker reveals Bayern Munich captain Lothar Matthaus commanded as much dressing room respect as anyone.
“Lothar Matthaus was a huge player, a massive star,” Hughes tells FFT. “He was the main man there. He was strong and forthright and he didn't suffer fools. There was a kind of hierarchy in the squad and only the top people would sit at his table. I liked to go and sit there during team meetings and meals just to wind him up. I don't think I was invited, but he was nice about it.”
Hughes joined Bayern Munich from Barcelona in the summer of 1987, following a disappointing season with the Catalan giants. While the Welshman’s aggression wasn’t suited to Spanish football - he was routinely penalised by La Liga referees - the physicality of the German football, and the close-knit mentality of the Bayern Munich squad, helped him return to top form.
“It was a good group,” he recalls. “My roommate was Hansi Flick, who’s gone on to do great things as Bayern coach. I was with him all the time, he was a great guy. There were some really strong characters. Everyone understood where they stood within the group, but one on one they were really easy to get along with. Matthaus was the boss, though, definitely.”
Hughes only stayed in Munich for one season - scoring seven goals in 23 appearances - before returning to Old Trafford to play for Alex Ferguson, another huge character. It was evidently something Hughes appreciated in a club, as his memories of his stint at Bayern Munich attest.
The United Way is out now on Blu-ray, DVD & Download-to-Own and launching on Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW from 24th May
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