Chairman Ralph Krueger addressed the media and assembled guests as the Markus Liebherr Pavilion was launched on Wednesday morning.
Here’s what he had to say:
Markus Liebherr was a very special man and the reason we are all here today. I’ve had the honour to meet family members, to speak to staff who were here when Markus was here from 2009 to 2010 and to feel his spirit through his colleagues.
His older brother Hans was at the win against Stoke, ten days ago, and everywhere the message about Markus Liebherr is the same and was the same. His character and his personality came out in so many things that he did in and around the club and it showed up in that one year that he was here and lives in the club today.
Number one, he was an adventurer. His mother used to say that when Markus left the house as a child, you didn’t know if he was going to the corner store or South America, and one day when he left Switzerland and came to Southampton, he went back home with an English football team.
He was an adventurer, a pioneer, his heart was monstrous, it was huge. When he took over the club in the summer of 2009 his first thoughts were not to buy football players, his first thoughts with Southampton were to check how small businesses were affected by administration, who the creditors were and how they could take care of them. That’s what Markus Liebherr did when he took over the club in 2009.
As they entered the first season, his ambition and his optimism came out in flying colours with anybody you speak to. When he went back to Switzerland, when he brought friends to matches, when he brought Katharina to the games, he was always optimistic, he was very courageous, he never had fear, he had nerves of steel. Throughout that first season he kept telling everybody how Southampton Football Club would become a great Premier League team, and look where we are standing today.
The seeds were sewn by Markus Liebherr throughout that first season in League 1. One of the things about Markus is that he would have been unhappy about this today – he would never have put his name on a building. He was a very humble man and unassuming. When I speak to people of the past they speak about him being a big teddy bear, about his warmth. Many of the people here in England just said he was a lovely man and the last thing he would have wanted was to put his name on a building but I know he is smiling down at us today as we put his name on this building.
He was about character and he was about being a person that you don’t judge by a cover. He treated everyone the same, and this is a beautiful building we’re in and it is a beautiful complex and it is going to continue to be beautiful, but for him the most important thing is the people we fill these buildings with. The coaches, the players and the staff that fill the chairs and stand at the boards and do presentations in the auditorium and coach out on the pitch. It is the people that would’ve mattered the most to Markus and it is with these kind of people in his light that we are filling these buildings and these spots with.
Because the winner is not what you see on the outside, it is what is inside the winner that matters, it’s the character, it’s the personality, and it’s the roots. Markus Liebherr’s roots live on in this club through the Southampton Way. He is all over that and the people that are in here carry his light forward.
I’d like to close with a piece of our manifesto that came out this summer as we continue to build and grow this club, and dedicate these few sentences to a very special man that we are honouring here today.
We are Southampton. We don’t just buy success, we breed it. We don’t take shortcuts, we earn it, every second of every minute of every day. We are the Saints. It’s not just a name, it is who we are, and with the Markus Liebherr Pavilion at our core, we march on.