Becker: 'Bayern Munich will win 3-1'
Boris Becker believes he is one of the biggest sports fans around.
And who is to argue with him? The former tennis world number one, six-time grand slam champion and TV commentator is so finely tuned with tennis he has built his life around the sport. Even 14 years after his retirement, Becker remains a sporting icon both inside and outside of his native Germany.
But whereas tennis is his first love, on Saturday Becker will be embracing his second – football. The 45-year-old will be one of the 86,000 fans packed into Wembley to see Dortmund square up to Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.
Will Becker be there just to celebrate a festival of German football? Not exactly.
"I have supported Bayern since I was a young boy. I wanted to be with the best club. When Germany hosted the World Cup in 1974 the best players were Franz Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier, Gerd Muller - they all happened to play for Bayern Munich," Becker told Al Jazeera English on a hotel balcony overlooking Wembley Stadium.
A devoted fan he might be – but Becker’s links with Bayern go deeper. He was on the Bayern board of directors for over ten years and is still an advisor to the Bundesliga champions.
He cried with the players after their loss to Chelsea last year in Munich.
"Having scored after 83 minutes through Thomas Mueller we felt the trophy was ours - but Drogba and Chelsea had different plans. Chelsea are my favourite English team but in my heart I am Bayern Munich... Last year was a nightmare."
Becker was there in Munich, but he was also there for the last five Champions League finals featuring Bayern, including their memorable 2-1 loss to Manchester United in 1999. While Bayern have found it hard to lose matches this year under Jupp Heynckes, who is closing in on a treble, they have been Champions League runners-up twice in the last three years.
However, despite recent disappointments, Becker is positive and believes his team will win 3-1 on the night.
Whatever the result, Germany will be the victors. Dortmund and Bayern's convincing semi-final wins over Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively has triggered plenty of soul-searching in Spain.
So why is German football so good at the moment, Boris?
"It is not an overnight sensation – the work of Matthias Sammer, Jurgen Klinsmann, Oliver Bierhoff with the national team – and Jurgen Klopp and Heynckes with Dortmund and Bayern - they have found a way to include youth players and youth programs."
"The clubs are represented by local players and maybe there heart is more into it than other teams," says Becker.
Sadly while German football is blossoming, German tennis is not courting such success.
"I wish I could give you a long speech about how many promising juniors we have... we don’t. We are struggling. The federation wasted the past 10 years trying to find the right system of management to support German tennis, it didn’t find it. We have a new team who are better but they’ve only been there for the last year."
The glory days of German tennis are certainly a thing of the past. And the level of achievement is partly why there is a lack of talent these days says Becker.
"We had taken success for granted. We had Steffi Graf, Michael Stich and Boris Becker week in and week out winning big tennis tournament, Wimbledon, becoming world number one. I think the federation became complacent."
In the battle of the sexes - Germany’s women are winning. There is no German male in the top ten but Angelique Kerber is currently ranked 8th and the spritely Sabine Lisicki made a name for herself reaching the Wimbledon semis in 2011 and quarters in 2012.
While football will be upmost in Becker’s mind this weekend – it is the home of tennis, not the home of football, that brings out the best in Boris.
Home is where the heart is – and for Becker that’s SW19.
"Wimbledon is always the highlight of my sporting season. I played here, qualified here, commentated on the last 10 finals. I happen to live in the neighbourhood so it’s really, really personal for me. To be able to experience coming from home every day to Wimbledon is an absolute pleasure."
Never one to shy away from a bet, Becker has already got his favourites for this year’s tournament which starts on June 24th. In the men’s game he is predicting an Andy Murray and Roger Federer final. Becker believes Murray’s recent decision to pull out of the French Open with a back injury might be ‘a blessing in disguise’ as he can now concentrate on the grass-court season.
On the women’s side of the draw, Becker finds it hard to look past one woman.
"If Serena Williams is healthy and motivated she is pretty tough to beat on any surface especially on grass. Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova are strong players on grass too – but Serena is the one to beat."
Becker is a big fan of women’s tennis but recognises the game frequently lives in the shadows of the men’s top four.
"The problem is the number one position keeps changing. The key is you want a dominant number one and a healthy rivalry between number one or two – but you haven’t had this on the women’s side for a long time and that’s why it’s not as popular as it should be."
Rivalry. Well that’s one thing Saturday’s final won’t be lacking. The rivalry is ripe and ready – it’s south Germany v west Germany, Heynckes v Klopp, Becker v Dortmund.
And if the winner is Bayern, Becker says his lucky Bayern scarf and jersey might be taken off in celebration.
Spoken like a true football fan.