Manuel Neuer said it felt as though his "heart was being ripped out" after he was informed his close friend was being dismissed after more than a decade at Bayern Munich; the Bayern skipper rejected reports Toni Tapalovic was leaking information from the coaching staff
Sunday 5 February 2023 11:55, UK
Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic says the club will be speaking to captain Manuel Neuer after he criticised the German champions over the decision to release goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic.
Neuer, who has been sidelined for the rest of the season after breaking his leg on a ski trip following Germany's elimination from the World Cup, said it felt as though his "heart was being ripped out" after he was informed his close friend was being dismissed after more than a decade at the club.
The Bayern skipper rejected reports Tapalovic was leaking information from the coaching staff and said he told the club's hierarchy that he did not agree with the reasons put forward for the 42-year-old's dismissal.
"That blow hit me extremely hard," Neuer told the Athletic. "I was told by the club officials. It came out of nowhere. For Toni too. I didn't understand that at all. It really knocked me down.
"Toni was always a team player with us, everyone saw it that way. He wasn't working for me for eleven and a half years, but for the entire goalkeeper group, for the coaching staff and for the club. We were always able to separate work and private life. I understand that it might sound like I'm not being objective or not believable, but I can really tell the difference.
"For me, that was a blow - when I was already down on the ground. I felt like my heart was being ripped out. It was the most brutal thing I've experienced in my career. And I've experienced a lot.
"There was no reason that I could comprehend. Things were said that I don't agree with. Nothing I heard would have ruled out the possibility of people talking to each other and sorting things out.
"This is about the human side of things, the way a valued employee was treated. At Bayern Munich, we want to be different - a family. And then something happens that I have never experienced before. It's a sad thing for everyone: for the club, for Tapa, the staff and all of the goalkeepers, including me. Nevertheless, I want to say: I'm a human being on one hand, and I'm a professional on the other."
Over the weekend Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn criticised Neuer for his comments and Salihamidzic said the 36-year-old had "put his personal interests here above the interests of the club".
Salihamidzic told Bild: "I understand that Manuel is personally affected. But I would have expected a different behaviour from him, especially as a captain. [The] Tapalovic decision, which was also difficult for us personally, had nothing to do with Manuel in this matter, and we explained that to him.
"If there are any consequences, we will first talk to Manuel about it himself. The disappointment that he describes about Tapa's release also prevails with us because Manuel has put his personal interests here above the interests of the club. But we will do it internally and discuss it reasonably with him."
On January 23 Bayern released a statement saying Tapalovic had been dismissed "with immediate effect".
Salihamidzic said in the statement: "As our goalkeeping coach, Toni was involved in the successes of recent years. We would like to thank him for that. Differences, particularly over the way we worked together, have now led to us going our separate ways. We wish Toni Tapalovic all the best for the future."