Franz Beckenbauer may be an FC Bayern München man to the core but the German football great has a soft spot for Hamburger SV – and says it would be "a dream" for them to reach this season's UEFA Europa League final on home soil.
'Der Kaiser' spent two years with HSV after moving back to Germany from New York Cosmos and helped them win the 1981/82 Bundesliga in his final campaign before a valedictory season with the Cosmos.
Hence he is hoping Bruno Labbadia's charges can achieve their goal of participating in the inaugural UEFA Europa League final at their own Hamburg Arena on 12 May. "HSV are one of the best teams we have in Germany," Beckenbauer told UEFA.com at last month's UEFA Congress in Tel Aviv.
Fate has decreed that the final of the Europa League will take place in Hamburg, and it would be a dream if HSV could reach the final. It is possible – of course it is possible, the draw has made it possible – but it will definitely be very difficult."
Beckenbauer is now honorary president of Bayern and watched his side defeat Olympique Lyonnais 1-0 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final last night. A similar result against Fulham FC tonight would also put HSV in the box seat ahead of next week's return match in London.
Hamburg lost to another Bundesliga team, Werder Bremen, at the semi-final stage last term and have been urged by coach Labbadia to take "this great chance" as they target their first major European final since winning the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1983.
It would be a fitting return to the top for a side Beckenbauer praised for their long tradition, describing them as a "real institution" in the German game.
"HSV are a traditional club, an old club, more 100 years old. They have produced many big players – Uwe Seeler, Willi Schulz and so on. They're a traditional club in the Bundesliga, and also a great name in international football.
"The Bundesliga was created in 1963, and HSV are the only club that have always stayed in the Bundesliga – all the others have gone up and down, while Bayern only joined in 1965. So HSV are a real institution, a real tradition. I think any fan of HSV is proud to support their club."
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