Talking with a Legend The Man Behind Bayern Munich's Success
Part 3: 'I'm Ready for Some Peace and Quiet'
SPIEGEL: You've long been dogged by your reputation as a staunch proponent of discipline. Frankfurt fans, including former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, harbor an eternal grudge against you because, in December 1994, you suspended star players Anthony Yeboah, Jay Jay Okocha and Maurizio Gaudino. Would you solve things differently today?
Heynckes: I would wait until the summer to avoid weakening my team during the season. And then I would make a clean start. The three of them didn't feel like training, and they balked at taking a run through the woods. If I let professional football players get away with something like that, then it's game over for me as a coach.
SPIEGEL: You allegedly are more well-disposed toward journalists now.
Heynckes: That's true.
SPIEGEL: Just as long as they don't ask the wrong questions, that is. When someone asked you if Bayern Munich sports director Matthias Sammer was now your boss, you ran out of patience.
Heynckes: Throughout my entire career as a coach, I've never had a boss. Presidents have been able to hire and fire me. But that didn't make them my bosses, not even at Real Madrid. I have such a strong sense of responsibility that I exercise my profession like an entrepreneur.
SPIEGEL: You are still very sensitive if you feel that you are not given sufficient recognition. Why is that?
Heynckes: It's not a matter of recognition, but of respect.
SPIEGEL: Italy's football legend Dino Zoff believes: "Sooner or later, every coach is bound to be pelted with tomatoes." What were your tomatoes during 34 years in the profession?
Heynckes: My dismissal from Bayern Munich in 1991 was very painful
SPIEGEL: which still remains Hoeness' biggest mistake as general manager.
Heynckes: Yes, it was so unnecessary. Things weren't going well, but of course they would have gotten better again.
SPIEGEL: In Madrid, you even had to go after winning the Champions League in 1998.
Heynckes: Oh, that really didn't bother me much. The second low point in my career was in 2007, when I received death threats for my failures in my hometown of Mönchengladbach, of all places.
SPIEGEL: At the press conference following your last Bundesliga game, you had tears in your eyes. What was going through your mind at the time?
Heynckes: For days, I had had these images in my head. I saw myself once again in the courtyard, kicking balls against the wall until my mother came to the window and shouted in the local dialect: "There you go knocking that ball around again!" I also remembered (commentator) Herbert Zimmermann calling the World Cup final in 1954, which I listened to excitedly on the radio. My hero at the time wasn't Helmut Rahn or Fritz Walter, but the Hungarian Ferenc Puskás, who I later met in Madrid. I thought of the young boy who dreamed of one day becoming a famous football player. Many dreams have been fulfilled since then, and now it was all coming full circle in Mönchengladbach.
SPIEGEL: Do you sometimes think about what you would have done with your life if it hadn't been for football?
Heynckes: I owe everything to this game. But I'm proud of what I've made of this opportunity.
SPIEGEL: Do you still have a goal?
Heynckes: After everything that's happened over the past two years, I'm ready for some peace and quiet.
SPIEGEL: Does that mean we can report that you will no longer work as a coach, not even for the national team?
Heynckes: After this string of successes, I could transfer to just about any club in Europe. I have a problem with the finality of saying "never." But I can assure you that I have no intention of coaching again. I had a worthy ending.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Heynckes, thank you for this interview.
Interview conducted by Matthias Geyer and Kurt Röttgen
Translated from the German by Paul Cohen
- Part 1: The Man Behind Bayern Munich's Success
- Part 2: 'I Prefer the Way Things Have Turned Out Now'
- Part 3: 'I'm Ready for Some Peace and Quiet'