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Globetrotting German coach Gutendorf passes away

German coach Rudi Gutendorf, who took charge of 55 teams in 32 countries spanning five continents in a colourful career, has died at the age of 93.

Rudi Gutendorf coached across the world
Rudi Gutendorf coached across the world ©Getty Images

German football, as well as clubs and national teams around the world, are mourning the death of renowned coach Rudi Gutendorf, who has passed away aged 93.

During a globetrotting coaching career, Gutendorf took charge of a remarkable 55 teams in 32 countries spanning five continents, such was his curiosity and eagerness to learn about different cultures, as well as teach the game.

This Guinness World Record statistic included 18 national teams and two teams – Iran and China – at Olympic Games. His domestic highlights consisted of spells at Stuttgart, Schalke, 1860 München, Hamburg and Duisburg – whom he steered to runners-up spot in the inaugural Bundesliga of 1963/64. Internationally, he coached Chile, Australia, and Trinidad and Tobago, among many others.

His tireless efforts as a coach earned Gutendorf the highest German civilian honour, the Federal Cross of Merit, on two occasions.

Initially an outside-right with TuS Neuendorf – with whom he reached the German championship semi-finals in 1948 – Gutendorf's playing days were curtailed by tuberculosis. He soon became a student of the legendary Sepp Herberger – later West Germany’s 1954 FIFA World Cup winning trainer – before accepting a first coaching post in 1955 with Blue Stars Zurich.

His final job came as Under-23 coach of Samoa, ending in 2003. A colourful character, he earned particular plaudits for his work in Rwanda in the late 1990s, when that country was still affected by civil war and the genocide of 1994. 

The Koblenz native’s football adventures were documented in an autobiography, Around the World with Football.