SPIEGEL: Mr. Heynckes, you've just gone into retirement as the coach of the most successful FC Bayern Munich team in the history of football. Will you now be getting a state pension?
Heynckes: Yes, I've had one for the past three years, since turning 65.
SPIEGEL: May we ask how much you receive?
Heynckes: €217 ($287) a month.
SPIEGEL: So it was helpful that you were able to boost your retirement nest egg with another stint in Munich. What's the story behind this meager pension?
Heynckes: In 1967, I left the state pension system and signed up with a private pension fund. At the time, I was told this was a wise decision.
SPIEGEL: In any case, it hasn't put a damper on your career. The older you've gotten, the more respect and admiration you've received. You must feel like the Helmut Schmidt of football (editor's note: former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who led the country from 1974 to 1982, still remains one of Germany's most popular and respected political figures at age 94).
Heynckes: I'm afraid that would be too much of an honor. I'd say that individuals are respected who stick to their convictions instead of doing whatever happens to be in fashion. That's something I appreciated about Schmidt when he was chancellor.
SPIEGEL: One year ago, you and Bayern Munich were the runner-ups. You lost the Champions League final to Chelsea 4-3 on penalties. And you lost the German Football Association (DFB) Cup 5-2 against Borussia Dortmund. At the club, they called it a "disaster."
Heynckes: I was criticized, even within Bayern Munich. But that's warranted if the results aren't right.
SPIEGEL: Did you doubt yourself during this period?
Heynckes: No. As a player and a coach, I've had plenty of great moments, but I've also experienced disappointments. The disappointments are not about self-doubt, but rather about change. I've always seen failures as a personal challenge. I say to myself: Now I have to find out if I have the right stuff. The defeat against Chelsea meant that last season I had no private life. My job demanded my full attention.
SPIEGEL: What was it like when you saw your team for the first time after this defeat? Did you talk about failure?
Heynckes: Psychologically, it would have been completely wrong to mull over this result. We all knew why we'd lost. I had to move beyond that.
SPIEGEL: What did you say to your players?
Heynckes: I told them a bit about my career, about dealing with victories and defeats. In 1972, I played on the West German team that won the UEFA European Championship, even though I wasn't even a regular player in the run-up to the tournament. Two years later, I was in the starting lineup for the German national team competing for the World Cup, but after an injury I was sidelined for the entire final. I told my players that this was the greatest disappointment of my life, but it spurred me on and became my greatest source of motivation. One year later, I was on the team that won the Bundesliga championship and the UEFA Cup -- and I was the top scorer.
SPIEGEL: And that was enough to forge the most successful team in the history of German football?
Heynckes: I said: Listen people, if we don't realize that we have to work as a team, and if we don't all work harder, and if we're not hungrier for success, then we won't win anything next year, either. They very quickly adopted a different mindset. Players who had never learned teamwork were able to overcome their egoism, and even Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry suddenly took on defensive duties.
SPIEGEL: Bastian Schweinsteiger missed the decisive penalty against Chelsea and also played poorly on the German national squad during the European Championship. What did you do with him to make him into your most valuable player?
Heynckes: Before the first game of the season, I told people that I thought Schweinsteiger was the best midfielder in the world. Public statements like that strengthen a professional player.
SPIEGEL: Do you put him on the same level in Bundesliga history as Wolfgang Overath and Günter Netzer, the two great playmakers of the 1950s?
Heynckes: He even has an advantage over them: Schweinsteiger influences his entire team's play, while Overath and Netzer only shaped their teams' offensive movements.
SPIEGEL: In April 2012, Ribéry gave Robben, his apparently unpopular teammate, a black eye during the Champions League match against Real Madrid. Now, Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge says that he has never experienced this degree of team harmony in his 39 years of professional football. You can't achieve something like that with just a few heart-to-heart talks.
Heynckes: I think it has a great deal to do with my style of leadership, and part of this is that I'm always up-front with my players, even if I realize that this honesty will occasionally hurt their feelings. The players trusted me as an individual and had confidence in my expertise.
SPIEGEL: Did this trust in your expertise go so far that you could relegate Mario Gomez -- a center forward on the German national squad -- to the bench and have him actually accept that?
Heynckes: I told Gomez: You were injured for a while, and during this period Mario Mandžuki played on the team. We have been successful with Mandžuki. Now, you have to get in shape again, and we have to try to take everyone's interests into account. That wasn't always easy, including for me.
SPIEGEL: Was it a social gesture of sorts that Gomez was allowed to play in the DFB Cup final against Stuttgart right from the start?
Heynckes: A Bayern Munich coach can't afford any social gestures. I always fielded the team that I felt had the greatest chances of success. I then told the player who was sidelined: I'm not deciding against you, but in favor of success.
Since Mandžuki sat on the bench for a couple games, he didn't become the season's top scorer. I told him: I robbed you of an opportunity to become the most successful goal-scorer in the league. But do you know what I've given you? You've become the German champion! You've won the Champions League and the DFB Cup. A couple of days ago, he sent me a text message.
SPIEGEL: What did he write?
Heynckes: That he has me to thank for it all.
SPIEGEL: Have the other players ever come to you and said: "Coach, you did a great job"?
Heynckes: Of course. It was my idea to bring the Spaniard Javi Martínez on board. It's clear that that he is a player with a market value of €20 or €25 million, but due to a contractual clause he costs €40 million. I admit that I had serious problems with paying this amount. He didn't play so well at first, either. The men upstairs …
SPIEGEL: ... You're referring to club chairman Rummenigge and club president Uli Hoeness …
Heynckes: … didn't say anything, but body language also conveys a message. My approach was: Wait, and things will improve. After a while, players like Neuer, Lahm and Schweinsteiger came to me and said: "This one's a winner." That kind of thing bolsters a coach in a group.
SPIEGEL: Your goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, made a great comment after the Champions League final: "When the team from Dortmund shot the equalizer, my ass went stone cold." Are you familiar with such feelings during a match?
Heynckes: I'm never afraid during a game, and I have no negative thoughts. I think about what I have to do. Which players can be substituted? And where I can manage to squeeze in a slight advantage? I remain very calm, which is why I never engage in any sideline antics.
'I Prefer the Way Things Have Turned Out Now'
SPIEGEL: Does a coach have to be familiar with the generational tastes of his players to be able to relate to them? The word is that you even listened to the music of Lady Gaga, which is hard to believe.
Heynckes: I've seen her performances, and even a professional football player could learn something from her: She knows exactly what she has to do to attain her objective. Ribéry's music only goes "bumm-bumm-bumm." It's not exactly my cup of tea, but I listen to it. It's my job to understand the various personalities on the team. I've never had a generational conflict with my players. I've stayed young at heart. I also think that I have a great sensitivity for understanding people.
SPIEGEL: Have you read books about this?
Heynckes: I've always been self-taught, and I've learned a great deal from listening, reading and watching. But my parental home played a key role. My mother gave birth to 10 children -- before, during and after the war. My father was a blacksmith, and things were tight money-wise. In those kinds of living conditions, you naturally acquire social skills.
SPIEGEL: Perhaps the general appreciation for you also has something to do with the fact that you represent a segment of the sport that has managed to remain normal. People say: Thanks to a guy like Heynckes, there's also room for us in this circus.
Heynckes: That's definitely the case. In this overheated climate, whether you're talking about the clubs, the media or the general public, you need people who can maintain the requisite distance. I've been trying to take the edge off this business for years. But of course it doesn't make things any easier if everything you say is online five minutes later. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why I'd rather read the newspaper than look at Web pages on my iPad.
SPIEGEL: Come to think of it, why don't you have an advertising contract? Is it that you're simply not interested because you already have enough money? Or do you just want to set yourself apart from colleagues, such as national team coach Joachim Löw and Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp?
Heynckes: I've never been offered an advertising contract. Maybe I'm too normal for the advertising industry.
SPIEGEL: When you recently said your goodbyes in Munich, you spoke about Bayern Munich president Hoeness and got a bit choked up. Hoeness is currently in trouble for evading millions in taxes. Are you worried about your friend?
Heynckes: His situation is cause for concern for everyone close to him. I know Hoeness probably better than anyone else, aside from his family. He has polarized, politicized and hurt people -- and he made a big mistake. But we shouldn't condemn him before justice has run its course.
SPIEGEL: Hoeness has broken laws and now has to hope that his voluntary declaration of tax evasion will keep him out of jail.
Heynckes: There's a difference between hiding illicit earnings in Switzerland and not paying taxes on capital gains. To all of those who are claiming the moral high ground here, I would like to know if they have never hired a handyman and paid him cash under the table. I also wonder why, of the thousands of voluntary declarations made every year, only one has been made public, namely the one made by Hoeness. In that sense, he is a victim of a breach of the law.
SPIEGEL: Haven't you ever thought that Hoeness was jeopardizing your success with his tax affair?
Heynckes: On the contrary, the team -- and I as their coach -- have played our hearts out for Hoeness. That's helped him and us.
SPIEGEL: And your friendship hasn't suffered from the fact that Bayern Munich hired Spanish coach Pep Guardiola behind your back?
Heynckes: Not at all. I've known since last summer that they were interested in Guardiola. In mid-December, Hoeness told me about the imminent signing of a contract.
SPIEGEL: Rummenigge had made assurances: "Our top candidate for the new season will be Jupp Heynckes." But he didn't keep his word.
Heynckes: Rummenigge and I spoke about this in mid-January.
SPIEGEL: The talks couldn't have been harmonious. Rummenigge said afterwards that he was "absolutely exhausted."
Heynckes: Of course I wasn't happy with their behavior, and I made that absolutely clear. But it doesn't change the fact that they made the right decision in switching to a younger generation. Guardiola is 26 years younger than I am, and he's a successful and sought-after coach. Bayern had to jump on this opportunity.
SPIEGEL: Would you have liked to stay on for another year?
Heynckes: Before the beginning of the season, I said that another chapter in my life was coming to a close in June 2013. That's something that I had agreed to with my wife, who has suffered a great deal from my profession. If the Bavarians hadn't found an adequate replacement, I would have been open to talking about an extension. But I prefer the way things have turned out now.
SPIEGEL: A politician whose days are numbered is called a lame duck. Keeping in mind the entire media circus surrounding Guardiola's transfer, did it ever occur to you: "That's what the players think of me now"?
Heynckes: Not for one second. We've become even more close-knit.
SPIEGEL: Hoeness once asked you: "When will we play as well as Barcelona?" You could say: "Now, but even more successfully than Guardiala's former club."
Heynckes: It's no exaggeration when I say that Guardiala is assuming responsibility for a perfectly fuctioning team -- one that clearly bested Barcelona on two occasions. But we shouldn't already talk about a new era before Bayern has proven that it can repeat its successes.
SPIEGEL: Rummenigge told you that you could have your pick of jobs at Bayern. Are you going to take him up on his offer?
Heynckes: Just as Guardiola has hung back while I was coach, I'm going to keep a low profile for now. I won't interfere with a colleague's business. That's one of the reasons why I turned down an offer to work for pay-TV station Sky as an expert. Should I talk about my successor's work? I don't do that kind of thing.
SPIEGEL: One can read everywhere that, at 68, you've become an all-round easy-going person. Anyone who has seen you during your daily work, though, would probably say the opposite is true. Peter Hermann, your assistant coach, says that you check on every single stomach muscle exercise.
Heynckes: That laidback attitude is an outsider's perception. But, on the inside, I look after everything. Hoeness repeatedly tried to invite me to dinner, but I told him: "I have to study our next opponent." He wasn't always pleased about that.
SPIEGEL: He also probably wouldn't have been happy if you had said: "We've been knocked out of the Champions League, but at least we had an enjoyable evening at a fine restaurant."
Heynckes: We made up for the dinner later on.
'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