Berlin: Bayern Munich boss and ex-East Germany international Matthias Sammer says the fall of the Berlin Wall, 25 years ago on Sunday, meant he could realise his dream of Bundesliga football.
The opening of borders in Germany`s capital on November 9 1989 heralded the collapse of the communist German Democratic Republic (GDR).
It ultimately led to reunification in October 1990, changing the lives of millions of East Germans, like Sammer, who had been trapped behind the iron curtain.
The 47-year-old is currently Bayern`s director of sport, helping steer the Bavarian giants to the 2013 Champions League triumph and Pep Guardiola-coached Munich are unbeaten this season at the top of the Bundesliga.
During his playing career, Sammer made 23 appearances for East Germany, then played 51 times for Germany after reunification in 1990 and was part of the team which won the 1996 European Championship in England.
The defensive midfielder won the 1997 Champions League title with Borussia Dortmund and was voted European player of the year in 1996.
But in 1989, Dresden-born Sammer was a 22-year-old international for the former GDR playing for Dynamo Dresden in the East German Premier league with any thoughts of West Germany`s Bundesliga strictly out of bounds.
"We were preparing in Leipzig for a World Cup qualifier against Austria (when we heard the news), but at that moment, everything was up in the air, not just football," Sammer told German daily Bild about his memories of November 9 1989.
"At the back of your mind was the thought that perhaps the dream may come true to eventually play in the Bundesliga.
"It was the dream of many East German players, but was something you could never openly talk about."
Sammer even fell offside with East German officials, shortly before the Berlin Wall fell, just for talking to Stuttgart`s then coach Arie Haan in a Dresden hotel in the late 80s.
It was a chance meeting he had to later report to the Stasi, the GDR`s secret police.
"I met him (Haan) by accident at a Dresden hotel and with his Dutch charm, he told me I could play for any Bundesliga team," said Sammer.
"But I was already thinking, `what if there is a bug under the table?`
"I had to report the meeting to the Stasi and explain what it was all about with Haan."
Sammer said several Dresden team-mates had been forced to end their careers just because they kept up contact with family in the west and he constantly had to watch what he said.
"There were taboo subjects, for example, not to discuss a grandmother or aunt (in the west) and never talk about the Bundesliga.
"Your image didn`t play a role, you were either a good player or not.
"Players who have a good image today, wouldn`t have been automatically considered good in those days."
Sammer joined West German side VfB Stuttgart in July 1990, eight months after the Berlin Wall fell, scoring 11 goals in his first Bundesliga season.
He helped his new club become the first champions of reunified Germany in 1991-92.
Sammer says reunified Germany has come along way in the quarter of a century since the Berlin Wall fell.
"I can only say what I feel: thank god we are one country again," he said.
"It`s not as though we don`t still have problems, but we can be very proud.
"For example, when you see how my hometown of Dresden has been rebuilt, it is unbelievable what this country and the people have achieved."