A steady-if-unspectacular defender during his playing career (342 appearances for the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen), it was after retirement that Rudi Assauer made his indelible mark on German football.
His first run as sporting director at Schalke ran from 1981 to 1986, after which he left the sport to play the real estate market. Returning to
Gelsenkirchen in 1993 however, he redefined what the sporting director did in the Bundesliga: he set in motion the building of the ultra-modern
Veltins-Arena and fired popular manager Jörg Berger, bringing in
Huub Stevens. The results were impressive: a team seen as a bunch of mid-table scrappers won two German cups and the UEFA Cup in 1997. Famously they were denied the league title in 2001 when Bayern Munich scored a 94th minute goal to go top while Schalke players were already celebrating on the pitch.
Assauer was a long-time smoker (nicknamed “Cheroot Rudi”) and his battle with Alzheimer’s was well-known in his native Germany. There’ll be no 94-minute change in his destination this time out.