Ex-Switzerland coach Jakob 'Köbi' Kuhn mourned

Jakob 'Köbi' Kuhn, who led Switzerland to two EUROs and the 2006 FIFA World Cup, has died at the age of 76.

Jakob 'Köbi' Kuhn was applauded off the field at the end of Switzerland's UEFA EURO 2008 campaign
Jakob 'Köbi' Kuhn was applauded off the field at the end of Switzerland's UEFA EURO 2008 campaign ©Getty Images

Former Switzerland coach Jakob 'Köbi' Kuhn has died at the age of 76.

Following a distinguished playing career, Kuhn enjoyed a fine spell as coach of the Swiss national team. taking his country to two EUROs and the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and earning himself vast respect as a leader and personality.    

A skilful midfielder in his playing days, Kuhn won six league titles with FC Zürich, and earned 63 caps for Switzerland, featuring at the 1966 FIFA World Cup finals. He returned to Zürich after hanging up his boots in 1977, working as a youth coach and spending two spells as stand-in boss of the senior team. He left in 1995 for a coaching role with the national youth and Under-21 sides.

Kuhn made the step up to the senior national team in 2001, and spent seven years in charge, leading Switzerland to UEFA EURO 2004, and then the 2006 World Cup finals – where the Swiss were eliminated on penalties in the round of 16 despite not conceding a goal in standard play for the entire tournament. Kuhn remained in charge as the Swiss competed at UEFA EURO 2008 as co-hosts.

Swiss Football Association (ASF-FSV) president Dominique Blanc led the tributes to Kuhn. "He was an icon for us, even off the field," Blanc said. "Köbi Kuhn shared our football and its values with the world. We thank him from the depth of our hearts for what he has done for our sport." Ottmar Hitzfeld, who took over as Switzerland coach following Kuhn's retirement in 2008, added: "Köbi will remain a Swiss football legend and we'll miss his human qualities. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends."

“We went together through the EURO [co-]hosted by Switzerland,” said current Swiss national team captain Stephan Lichtsteiner. “Köbi Kuhn was always a very likeable coach. I took enormous pleasure in training and playing under his command.”

"I'm devastated," said former Switzerland striker Alexander Frei, who featured at all three final tournaments under Kuhn. "He was an important figure in my career. We were given an angel and then he was taken back." His 'Nati' team-mate Pascal Zuberbühler added: "I'm feeling very sad. I'm grateful to him for the incredible times we had with the Switzerland team. It was fantastic. He was THE coach."