‘Don’ Jupp and His Spanish Past

Jupp Heynckes is one of the few people who probably has to employ a cleaning lady just for his trophy cabinet. Even as a professional footballer he has won almost every trophy there is in European football. The striker has scored most of his goals for the club that belongs to the city of his birth: Mönchengladbach. He scored 218 goals for Die Fohlen which combined with the 25 goals he scored for Hannover, where he spent three years, made him the third best goal scorer in the history of Bundesliga. Whilst being at Gladbach he won the German Bundesliga title for four times, the DFB-Pokal once and the UEFA Cup during the 1970s. He was also successful with the German National-team and can proudly call himself European Cup and World Cup champion.

When he retired from professional football in 1978, he quickly graduated from the Sports-academy of Cologne and gained his coaching license  A year later he started his successful career as a coach replacing the great Udo Lattek at, you guessed it, Borussia Mönchengladbach. He spent eight years at the club but wasn’t able to win any silverware. In 1987 he took over at Bayern Munich, once again replacing Lattek. During his first season in Munich the team finished second, but after some restructuring Bayern won two back-to-back league titles under Heynckes command. They weren’t able to make it three in a row the following season as the team started slowing down, and he was fired in 1991.

After several months off, he decided to do something new. He had been in Germany for such a long time and thought it was time for a new challenge. So he took an offer from Athletic Club Bilbao and moved to Spain. His new task was a challenge in two regards, as Heynckes had to learn a new language in addition to dealing with the special philosophy at the Basque Club. The Basque people are very proud of their tradition and that is why Atletic Club has never signed a player without Basque roots and probably will never do so. Apart from all these difficulties Heynckes was quite successful from the very beginning. When he took over the team were 15th and he managed to get them to the eight spot at the end of his first season. The second season went even better, as Athletic finished fifth and were able to play in the UEFA Cup.

About his time at Athletic Club Heynckes spoke years later to German Newspaper Bild: “After my time in Munich it wasn’t easy for me to find an adequate club. Bilbao was a step into a new life. Another culture, mentality, tradition, moral and language – a personal challenge. My family and I have been very happy in Bilbao.”

Of course he had to deal with terrorism caused by ETA who were omnipresent in this region. Asked about that Heynckes answered: “If you live in Bilbao, you have to live with this threat. Those terrible incidents have marked me deeply. However, Bilbao and the people living there have been a success for me. I have learned a lot.”  The Basque people embraced the German coach very quickly because he made efforts to learn the language and tried to adapt to the culture. After two seasons in Spain, Heynckes received an offer from Eintracht Frankfurt. Back in Germany he had to deal with a team consisting of lots of trouble makers with whom he wasn’t able to deal with. After only nine months he was fired and went back to Spain once again.

He took over at Tenerife, a club with a very low budget. Tenerife is quite far away from the Iberian Peninsula and therefore they have to travel quite far for any away match. Despite all this trouble Heynckes lead them from the relegation zone to an UEFA Cup spot within his first season. This remarkable achievement was well-recognized in Spain so Barcelona tried to sign him at the end of the season.

Heynckes refused as he wanted to fulfil his contract and after another season collecting lots of road miles, he got an offer from Real Madrid to be the first German Coach of Los Merengues. Real Madrid only finished fourth in La Liga under Heynckes’ command but after 32 years without winning the Champions League the club won their seventh trophy in Europe’s finest competition after beating Juventus Turin 1:0 in the 1998 final. This game against Juventus was also his last game as Coach of the ‘Blancos’ as his contract was not renewed.

After one and a half seasons in Portugal where he immediately signed the young Robert Enke, he ended up at Athletic Club again. He stayed there for two more years and lead the club to eight and seventh place respectively. In 2003 his time in Spain came to an end and he went back to Germany to coach Schalke 04, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayer Leverkusen and his current team Bayern Munich.

‘Don Jupp’, as he is called in Germany due to his Spanish past, acknowledges that this challenge for him has been a successful one and helped him to become a better coach.  He said that he learned lots of new training methods and content which helped him improving his quality as a coach. Not only has his quality as a coach been influenced during his time in Spain, but also his personality. His knowledge of the Basque mentality was vital to seal the transfer of Javi Martínez from Athletic Club to Bayern Munich during the summer.

So when Pep Guardiola arrives in Munich in July the transition will not be as unfamiliar as many expect.  The Spanish influence would already be present at the club thanks to Don Jupp.

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