Ottmar Hitzfeld has announced he will bring down the curtain on his coaching career after taking Switzerland to the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil.
"It was the toughest decision of my career as a coach," the 64-year-old Hitzfeld said in a statement on the Swiss Football Association (SFV-ASF) website, explaining that after more than 30 years of coaching, he feels it is time to move on. "Due to the potential of so many of the youngsters and the presence of several experienced players, [Swiss football] is well equipped for the future, regardless of who will be coach."
"As unfortunate as our coach's decision is, Ottmar Hitzeld's explanation made sense, so there is nothing else for us to do, other than to accept and respect it," SFV-ASF president Peter Gilliéron added, making it clear that the association would take their time before deciding on Hitzfeld's replacement.
The German-born Hitfzeld spent most of his playing days in Switzerland, winning the league title with FC Basel 1893, then moved into coaching with SC Zug, FC Aarau and Grasshopper Club before returning to his home country as boss of Borussia Dortmund in 1991.
He twice won the Bundesliga with Dortmund before leading them to UEFA Champions League glory in 1997. Five national titles, three German Cups and another UEFA Champions League crown (2001) followed in two spells at the FC Bayern München helm. One of only four coaches to lift the European Champion Clubs' Cup with two different teams – along with Ernst Happel, José Mourinho and Jupp Heynckes – Hitzfeld took over from Jakob Kuhn as Switzerland coach in July 2008.
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