Roberto Di Matteo, who guided Chelsea FC to glory in 2012, has been named successor to Jens Keller at FC Schalke 04, the third Italian to coach in the Bundesliga.
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FC Schalke 04 have confirmed the departure of coach Jens Keller, with Roberto Di Matteo taking over with immediate effect.
Schalke have won only twice in ten matches in all competitions this season, drawing both fixtures in UEFA Champions League Group G, at Di Matteo's old club Chelsea FC and against NK Maribor. Keller becomes the second Bundesliga coach after Mirko Slomka of Hamburger SV to be dismissed this term.
Schalke wasted no time in announcing Keller's replacement, assigning Di Matteo his first managerial role since leaving Chelsea FC in November 2012. The 44-year-old Italian was in charge at Stamford Bridge – initially on an interim basis following André Villas-Boas's sacking – for just eight months, but led the west London team to UEFA Champions glory. The Blues beat FC Bayern München in the German side's own stadium, coming from behind to prevail on penalties.
"Performances in recent weeks have fluctuated too much," said Schalke general manager Horst Heldt of the decision to remove the 43-year-old Keller, himself appointed in December 2012. "Positives like the derby victory [against Borussia Dortmund] brought no lasting effects. We are missing the necessary consistency to achieve our goals, which is why we have made the cut. We are fully convinced Roberto Di Matteo will stabilise the team and achieve our goals in the Bundesliga and Champions League."
As a midfielder, Di Matteo started his playing career in Switzerland before moving to SS Lazio in 1993; he also spent six seasons with Chelsea and collected 34 caps for Italy. Di Matteo subsequently coached Milton Keynes Dons FC and West Bromwich Albion FC before becoming assistant – and ultimately successor – to Villas-Boas.
Schalke and Chelsea drew 1-1 on matchday one and will meet again in Gelsenkirchen on 25 November. Before that comes the double-header with Sporting Clube de Portugal on 21 October in Gelsenkirchen and on 5 November in Lisbon.
Di Matteo will be the third Italian to coach in the German top flight. UEFA.com looks at how the previous two fared …
Trapattoni had two spells at Bayern. When he first took the reins, in 1994/95, the Bavarian outfit reached the UEFA Champions League semi-finals but Trapattoni struggled with the language barrier and left after his team finished sixth in the Bundesliga. His first campaign will also be largely remembered for an embarrassing cup defeat by lower-league side TSV Vestenbergsgreuth.
His second stint brought far greater success, for he won the 1996/97 title and then the German Cup the following season. His Bayern legacy was embellished by a press conference in which he emotionally criticised several of his players and coined a number of new German phrases. Trapattoni returned to Germany in summer 2005 but lasted only 20 matches at VfB Stuttgart.
Scala had the tough task of following in the footsteps of Ottmar Hitzfeld, who had just steered Borussia Dortmund to the UEFA Champions League crown a few weeks earlier. Although he managed to lift the European/South American Cup with Dortmund in 1997 and get to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, tenth place in the Bundesliga was insufficient to keep him in the post.