A two-time UEFA Champions League-winning coach, Jupp Heynckes has returned for a fourth spell in charge at Bayern. Good news, says UEFA.com's Philip Röber.
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At 72, and seemingly enjoying a happy retirement at his Casa de los Gatos farm in the Lower Rhine, Jupp Heynckes has returned to take charge of Bayern München for a fourth time, stepping into the breach until the end of the season following Carlo Ancelotti's departure.
Heynckes, who will be reunited with his 2013 UEFA Champions League-winning asisstants Peter Hermann and Hermann Gerland, said: "I wouldn't have returned to any other club in the world, but FC Bayern München are very close to my heart. My coaching staff and I will now do everything to bring back successful football for the fans. I'm very much looking forward to this challenge."
One of the select band of multiple UEFA Champions League-winning coaches to have won Europe's top prize with two clubs – with Real Madrid in 1998 and Bayern München in 2013 – he last left Bayern as a treble winner in 2013, amid rumours that the club were eager for him to step aside so they could grab the opportunity to bring in the newly available Josep Guardiola.
- Jupp Heynckes factfile
- Date of birth: 9 May 1945
- Playing career: Borussia Mönchengladbach (two spells; honours: five German titles, 1974/75 UEFA Cup); Hannover
West Germany (39 caps, 14 goals; honours: EURO 1972, 1974 FIFA World Cup)
- Coaching career: Mönchengladbach (two spells), Bayern München (four spells; honours: three German titles, one German Cup, 2012/13 UEFA Champions League), Athletic Club (twice), Eintracht Frankfurt, Tenerife, Real Madrid (honours: 1997/98 UEFA Champions League), Benfica, Schalke, Bayer Leverkusen
At that time, the man once known as Osram (after a popular brand of lightbulb) for his tendency to go red in the face at times of high emotion, was not short of other coaching opportunities, with a return to Spain mooted. However, Heynckes chose to take a step back. "After a season like this one, it was difficult to imagine taking up a job elsewhere," he said at the time.
The key word there is "elsewhere". A wise owl, Heynckes may have stepped aside knowing from experience that the Bayern job might come his way again, given that the club tend to go for tried-and-tested options when the going gets tough. Former coaches Ottmar Hitzfeld, Franz Beckenbauer and Heynckes himself (in 2009 and 2011-13) have all come back for coaching encores in the past.
The club he will be returning to will be fairly similar to the one he left. Nine members of that all-conquering 2013 team are still at the club, and there is little doubt that every single one of them will do their best to further build Heynckes' legacy. If reports of a slightly tense dressing room are true, the 72-year-old will be just the man to get everyone back on side.
Heynckes knows this team, knows this club and, out on the terraces, the fans will welcome him back as someone who has long since earned their respect and admiration. When he speaks, everyone at Bayern listens.
Of course, he has problems to solve. His current squad's tactical nous has been called into question, along with their training regime and their ability to respond to changes during games. Moreover, following Ancelotti's departure, he needs to bring in an almost entirely new coaching staff.
His latest spell is set to be a short one; Bayern have long been linked with young Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann, who was born 23 days after Heynckes first conducted a training session at Säbener Straße in 1987, and may well make the move to Munich in the summer. However, Heynckes will welcome one more chance to prove his worth – and potentially to become the oldest coach to win the UEFA Champions League (the 2018 final takes place 16 days after his 73rd birthday.
Exactly why he has decided to come back for more is up for debate. Maybe he did not want to let down his old team-mate and now Bayern president Uli Hoeness. Maybe he wants the statue that will surely be built in his honour at Bayern one day to be that little bit bigger and shinier. Bayern are often referred to as 'FC Hollywood' in Germany, and Hollywood loves a sequel.