Helmut Fischer and Lothar Matthäus


Lothar Matthäus: "Yes, but..."

His passion for the PUMA KING caused Lothar Matthäus many troubles.

An offer from top German Bundesliga club FC Bayern Munich (FCB) can be seen as the crowning glory of the career of every ambitious football player. Having just won the National Cup in 1984, FCB wanted to sign one of the biggest talents in Germany at that time: Lothar Matthäus. Only 23 years old, his brave answer was: “Yes, but…!”

It was not the salary or the compensation for his former club Borussia Mönchengladbach that made him hesitate. “It was a pair of shoes that almost made the contract fall through”, Helmut Fischer, Mister PUMA, recalls.

“I come, but only if I can wear my PUMA KING”, Lothar declared adamantly, while the FCB’s directors started to frown. How could they explain this to the club’s technical supplier adidas? Having grown up in Herzogenaurach, next door to the former PUMA headquarters where his father used to work as a facility manager, Lothar was born with the PUMA spirit.

Just like other extraordinary players such as Pelé, Eusébio and Maradona, the PUMA KING became Lothar’s shoe – no matter if he played for the local 1. FC Herzogenaurach or top Bundesliga club Borussia Mönchengladbach. In the end, Lothar made his point and kept playing with the KING in Munich. With this, he laid the ground for the well-established sponsoring model that allows players to have individual contracts for their shoes. 

However, not everyone shared Lothar’s passion for the KING – especially in the German National Team. Lothar refused to wear adidas shoes as required by contract, but stubbornly continued to play with the KING. He was fined several times, but this did not really seem to bother the young troublemaker.  

For the 25th anniversary of Lothar winning the FIFA World Cup, PUMA launched a Premium edition of the shoe. To honour his successful times in Italy, the shoe came with a special heel lining inspired by Inter Milano. The romance of the PUMA KING and Matthäus might even rekindle, after Helmut received a text message from Lothar only a few minutes after his son Milan was born. It read: "Is everything prepared to sign the PUMA contract for MM?’”