Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery brought teammates to tears after Bayern Munich completed an astonishing title race turnaround to win a seventh successive Bundesliga crown on Saturday.
Ribery and Robben both scored in their final Bundesliga appearance as Bayern sealed the title on the final day, having been nine points behind rivals Borussia Dortmund earlier in the season.
“We knew that we didn’t just need to win today, we needed to show everyone who the champions of Germany are,” striker Robert Lewandowski told Sky.
“I wanted to win for Franck and Arjen. I saw their families before the game and I have to say I almost cried.”
Robben and Ribery will both leave the club at the end of the season, having spent 10 and 12 years respectively in Munich.
Both looked close to tears before the game as they were given a roaring send-off by the Bayern fans before coming off the bench to help Bayern to a 5-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.
“After a game like that, so many emotions go through you, through your whole body,” Robben told Sky.
“You can’t put it into words, you just have to experience it.”
“The main thing was that we won the league today. My whole family came from France for this special moment,” said Ribery.
Bayern president Uli Hoeness, who has been a mentor figure for Ribery in his 12 years at Bayern, wept openly in the stands as the Frenchman scored Bayern’s fourth goal.
“It was emotional enough when he was substituted on but when he scored this fantastic goal, I couldn’t hold back the tears,” Hoeness told Sky.
“I saw how sad he was in the last few days when he knew he wouldn’t start the game.”
– ‘We have achieved great things’ –
Coach Niko Kovac was given the traditional beer shower as Bayern Munich were crowned German champions on Saturday
“It’s amazing for both of them, and after so much stress and irritation this year, you don’t get much better than this,” said forward Thomas Mueller.
Bayern’s triumph marked the first time in ten years that the Bundesliga title has been decided on the final day of the season, and crowned an amazing comeback from nine points down in December.
After a rocky start to the season, new coach Niko Kovac could not shake rumours of his impending dismissal, even as he led his team on a 14-game unbeaten streak since February to claim the title.
Kovac was visibly moved as the Bayern fans chanted his name towards the end of the game.
“There were ups and downs this season, that much is clear,” he said.
“I am not a robot, and I am not ashamed of showing my feelings.”
The title triumph makes Kovac just the second man to have won the Bundesliga with Bayern as both a player and a coach, following in the footsteps of German legend Franz Beckenbauer.
“I heard after the game that Kaiser Franz was the only person to do it before, but that is by the by,” said Kovac.
“Thank you to the team and the fans, we have achieved great things.”