“You’re going to be the stadium announcer on Sunday”
Klaus Hafner looks back on more than 30 years as the voice of the Zerofivers
It’s one of many memorable moments that Klaus Hafner has experienced during his years as the stadium announcer for Mainz 05. The scene: a home game against Bayern München. Philipp Lahm and Thomas Müller step back onto the pitch after half-time. “Slow down a bit,” he yelled jokingly to both players. “Tell that to your team,” Müller responded. “They’re running like mad!” It’s a common scene from inside the OPEL ARENA, the same as it was in the Bruchwegstadion. The voice is full-bodied, often teasing, but always filled with respect and sympathy. “I think the players recognize that I do my job with passion and that I’m always supporting them,” said Hafner.
And that’s how it will be on matchday 34, as Hafner says his goodbyes and hangs up his microphone. The match against TSG Hoffenheim will be his last one as the stadium announcer for the Zerofivers with his successor, Andreas Bockius, by his side.
After 30 years, the 65-year-old is calling it quits. The fans in the grandstand will get to hear him fire them up one last time, as he encourages them to get loud once again.
Hafner hasn’t planned anything special for his final day on the mic. After all, he couldn’t really prepare anything prior to the game, since he doesn’t know what will happen. That it will be an emotional day and that he will get a big farewell in front of the fans “will likely be unavoidable,” he said. “I’m not that important. People like Niko Bungert and René Adler are also saying their goodbyes. Those are important players, who have given their all for the club. One thing I can say for sure is that, after this game is finished, that I’ll have done a lot right over the last 30 years.” Other than that, it’s business as usual this Saturday. “I’ll announce the guest’s lineup, and Andreas will do ours. It’s important that the fans recognize that he’s taking over as announcer. That’s why I really wanted us to work together during the second leg of the season, so that the fans get used to him and his voice.”
Hafner is starting fresh this spring. He’s leaving his post as stadium announcer, and will retire on 1st June. However, the event manager at the LBS in Mainz is not worried about having nothing to do. “I will still have plenty to do. What I don’t need any longer is for my schedule to determine how my day will go.” Hafner is hoping to be re-elected to city council on 26th May. He will continue to be the honorary chairperson of the Fastnachts EG, an association of 25 Carnival clubs. He will also continue to moderate the marathon, as well as keep up with his other work in the community. As a fan of the Zerofivers, he will also be sitting in the stands in the future. “I’m a big fan of this club, since they have given me so much,” he said.
It was sometime in 1989 when Harald Strutz, the then-chairman of Mainz 05, picked up the phone and told Hafner “You’re going to be the stadium announcer on Sunday.” Two days later, Strutz called again to remind him of what he’d said. “He was being serious. And so, I did it. We agreed that I would keep doing it until the end of the season and that we would talk about it again at that point. And we’ve kept talking about it until today.”