Ottmar Hitzfeld life and biography

Ottmar Hitzfeld picture, image, poster

Ottmar Hitzfeld biography

Date of birth : 1949-01-12
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Lörrach(today Baden-Württemberg), West Germany
Nationality : German
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2010-05-11
Credited as : Football player and manager, der General, FIFA World Cup

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Ottmar Hitzfeld (born 12 January 1949 in Lörrach, then Baden) is a German former football player (striker) and manager, nicknamed der General ("the general").

With a total of 18 major titles, mostly accumulated in his tenures with Grasshopper Club Zürich, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, the trained mathematics and sports teacher is not only the most successful German coach, but also one of the most outstanding in the history of the game. Twice he was elected "World Coach of the Year".He is one of only 3 manager to win the European Cup/UEFA Champions League with two different clubs, along with Ernst Happel and either Louis van Gaal or Jose Mourinho dependent on the result of the 2010 UEFA Champions League Final.

He currently holds the position as coach of the Swiss national football team.

Career as player

Born in 1949 as the youngest of five children, Ottmar Hitzfeld started playing football in the late 1960s with TuS Stetten and FV Lörrach in the lower German leagues before he captured the attention of Swiss first division team FC Basel. He joined the club, located on the other bank of the Rhine, in 1971. With this club the forward won the Swiss championship in 1972 and 1973, in the latter season even contributing as the top striker of Switzerland. In 1975 also he won the cup with Basel.

In 1973, while playing at Basel, he graduated from nearby Lörrach college to be a teacher for mathematics and sports.

He retained his amateur status in order to be able to participate in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. There he played amongst others with Uli Hoeneß, the later Bayern Munich player and general manager who would hire him as coach in the late 1990s. One of the highlights of this tournament was the first encounter of national sides of West and East Germany on the football pitch. West Germany lost this match 2-3 and thus failed to reach the semi-finals. In this match Hitzfeld scored one of the five goals he made in the course of the tournament.

In 1975, the 26 year old Hitzfeld accepted an offer by the then German second division side VfB Stuttgart. At the Swabian side, he was part of a legendary "100 goal offense" (the goal difference that season being 100:36). In one match against SSV Jahn Regensburg, he even scored six goals, which is still a record. After two years, in 1977, the team achieved promotion to the first division the Bundesliga. Hitzfeld had by that time scored 33 goals in 55 league matches. In the Bundesliga, the club finished the season a remarkable fourth. Hitzfeld contributed to this five goals in 22 matches.

After three years with Stuttgart, Hitzfeld returned to what by then had become his second home, Switzerland. There he played from 1978 to 1980 with FC Lugano before joining FC Luzern, where he finished his playing career in 1983, aged 34.

Career as coach

Ottmar Hitzfeld got his first coaching position with FC Zug where he stayed for a year. In 1984 he followed an offer to coach FC Aarau where he settled for four years. His tenure there was crowned with his first title as coach, the 1988 Swiss Cup. By then he had attracted also the attention of the major Swiss club Grasshopper in Zürich. Between 1988 and 1991 he gained there another four trophies, starting with a repeat of his cup victory by the end of his first season. The next year he followed up with the double before finishing his engagement with the defence of the Swiss Championship in 1991.


In 1991 Hitzfeld received an offer from Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, which had just finished the season tenth. In his first year he and his assistant Michael Henke, whom he would collaborate with for the next 13 years took the team to second spot in the league, securing an UEFA Cup place. The following season Dortmund reached the finals of this competition, but both matches were lost against Juventus. In 1995 he gained his first German championship with Dortmund, their first trophy since the 1989 German Cup, and Hitzfeld's first trophy in Germany. 1995–96 saw a successful defence of the title, but the great triumph had to wait for another year: in 1997 Dortmund finished third in the league, but reached the Champions League final where another encounter with Juventus was due. This time Borussia prevailed 3–1 in Olympic Stadium Munich against the team from northern Italy which featured Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamps, and Christian Vieri amongst others.

For his success Hitzfeld was rewarded for the first time with the "World Coach of the Year" award, but as frictions with the team had come to a head he was promoted out of the firing line to the position of sports manager with the club, where he witnessed his successor Nevio Scala taking the team to Intercontinental Cup honours.

Bayern Munich

In 1998 Ottmar Hitzfeld was hired by Germany's most successful club, FC Bayern Munich. In his first year he led the club to renewed championship glories, winning the league title by a record margin. The club lost the German Cup final to Werder Bremen on penalites, though. Most important was their run to the Champions League final. The final is remembered for the dramatic Manchester United comeback inside the injury time period. Trailing 1–0 Manchester scored two goals in stoppage time, condemning Bayern to a stunning defeat.

In the next season domestic success was improved upon with Bayern winning the double. After winning by a record margin last season Bayern won on a heartbeat finish this season. Hitzfeld's team depended on the neighbours from Unterhaching to beat Leverkusen on the last day play to secure the title. The cup final was won against Werder, the team which beat Bayern in the previous final. In the Champions League Bayern was stopped in the semi-final by eventual winners Real Madrid.

2000–01 Hitzfeld led Bayern not only to the league championship hattrick, but once again into the Champions League final, defeating Manchester United and defending champions Real Madrid en route. This time the side from Munich prevailed, albeit it took a penalty shoot-out against Valencia. This made Hitzfeld only the second coach after Ernst Happel to win the major European trophy with two different teams. Again, he found himself recognized with the honour of "World Coach of the Year", but this time he remained in control over his team in the ensuing Intercontinental Cup final against Boca Juniors from Buenos Aires. A sole goal by Ghanean defender Samuel Kuffour in extra-time made it an evening to celebrate for the general and his team. By then the team had a tendency to put in lacklustre performances and in the end had to make do with third place in the league.

In the season 2002–03 Bayern once more dominated German football, claiming the league title four game days before the end of the season. With a 3–1 win over Kaiserslautern Hitzfeld's team secured another double. When this was followed by a season of less impressive football, yielding no title, the club renounced the remaining year of the contract of the 55 year old coach.

Ottmar Hitzfeld had an offer to take over the reins of the German national team, but preferred to take a break from the game. On February 1, 2007, following the sacking of Felix Magath, he returned to Bayern Munich. Hopes that he might lead Bayern to another championship, despite trailing by eight points with 15 games remaining were not fulfilled, though. Eventually Bayern finished fourth, thereby failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in more than a decade.

A multi-million spending spree before the new season helped Hitzfeld to lead the club to a new phase of domestic dominance, winning the DFB-Ligapokal, the DFB-Pokal, and the 2007-08 championship. After several high wins and lots of draws Bayerns 2007-08 UEFA Cup campaign ended in the semi-final with a humbling 4–0 defeat by eventual winner Zenit St. Petersburg. During the season Hitzfeld had announced, that he was not available for another season at the helm. Jürgen Klinsmann became his successor at Bayern.

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