Jupp Heynckes has confirmed that he will leave Athletic Club Bilbao to take charge of FC Schalke 04.
Glad to be back
The coach, who will walk away from Athletic when his contract expires later this month, announced the move to the press today. "This morning I said 'yes' to Schalke. I thought Bilbao would be my last coaching job because my wife and I have moved house 16 times but in the end it wasn't to be," he said. "But I am happy to be back in the Bundesliga after so many years - especially with Schalke."
The 58-year-old former Real Madrid CF trainer has agreed a two-year deal at the Parkstadion after talks this week with the Bundesliga outfit. He said of his new employers: "They have done a great job in building the club up. They have a new stadium and great fans - so at Schalke it won't be much different from Madrid or Bilbao."
Heynckes explained that he had told Athletic president Javier Uria of his decision to leave Bilbao last December, having rejected the offer of a contract extension. At a press conference in Gelsenkirchen, Schalke manager Rudi Assauer said: "Heynckes was our first choice from the start." Schalke, who finished a disappointing seventh in the table, had been without a coach since caretaker boss Marc Wilmots stood down three weeks ago at the close of the German season.
Heynckes will aim to end his two-year spell at Athletic on a high note by securing a UEFA Cup place for the San Mamés team. Sixth in the Primera División, they will play their final match at Real Madrid on Sunday. Heynckes leaves Athletic for a second time, having coached the club from 1992-94.
A former German international and VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach striker, he returns to the Bundesliga after eight years in Spain and Portugal with SL Benfica, Madrid, CD Tenerife and Athletic. He was formerly in charge of Eintracht Frankfurt, FC Bayern Munchen and Mönchengladbach.