Heynckes anticipates an emotional farewell
It's hard to know where to start with Jupp Heynckes, so we'll leave it to the man himself. Mr Heynckes, in your long career as a player and coach, what are the special moments you remember the most?
“Plenty of highlights and emotional incidents," replied the 68-year-old. An unbelievable week in October 1971, for example, as he starred when Mönchengladbach beat Inter Milan 7-1, and then Schalke 7-0 just three days later. Or the day the Bökelberg Stadium goalpost broke in a match against Bremen earlier the same year. Or another goal frame collapse, this time in Madrid prior to a Champions League semi-final against Dortmund in April 1998, followed by Real's triumph in the elite competition a month later, “my knighthood as a coach," Heynckes smiled. Or a 1975 UEFA Cup triumph with Gladbach, and his Bundesliga winner’s medals with Borussia and as a coach with Bayern. And even a warm reception in summer 1992 when, despite not knowing a word of Spanish, he took over the reins at Athletic Bilbao.
“I have enough memories not just for one book but several," the FCB coach said a short time ago, “but I'm not going to write them." Heynckes is a man of honour and will never disclose things not intended for the public. But if the theoretical book had been written, one of the last chapters would be about the events of this coming weekend: after 1,011 matches – 369 as a player and 642 as coach – the former world-class striker is taking leave of the German top flight, in Gladbach, the place where it all began.
“I'd be lying if I said tomorrow's match was a totally normal Bundesliga game. Obviously it's not," Mönchengladbach-born Heynckes said in Munich on Friday, “it's a constellation straight out of a movie script." Heynckes made his Bundesliga debut with Gladbach as a 19-year-old in 1965, taking his first coaching job at the same club in 1979. His Bundesliga career now ends in the same place on Saturday, “so it's come full circle," he commented.
Chorus of praise for Don Jupp
“It's a wonderful story," observed Matthias Sammer, “he's accomplished something not many people manage: he was a great player and also a great coach." His honours collection includes the Champions League (1998), the UEFA Cup (1975), seven Bundesliga titles (1971, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1989, 1990 and 2013) and the DFB Cup (1973). With Germany, he was a World Cup winner in 1974 and European champion two years earlier. He finished Bundesliga top scorer twice in 1974 and 1975, and his career record of 220 goals in 369 matches means he is third in the league's all-time scoring chart. He is also comfortably Gladbach's all-time Bundesliga top scorer with 195 goals.
Heynckes will relive the good old days for a short time on Friday, shortly after Bayern arrive at their overnight base in the Rhineland. The coach will attend an evening reunion of Borussia's 1973 DFB Cup winning squad, organised by Günter Netzer to mark the 40th anniversary of the game. “I'm looking forward to two or three pleasant hours at Borussia Park. We'll disappear down memory lane," Heynckes smiled.
One of the greats
On Saturday afternoon he will take a seat in a Bundesliga dugout for the last time. “It'll definitely be more emotional for me than the farewell here at the Allianz Arena. It's not going to be easy," mused the coach, who received a generous round of applause from reporters attending his final press conference in Munich on Friday. Heynckes intends to announce his future plans after the DFB Cup final in two weeks’ time.
The 68-year-old has left an indelible mark on the Bundesliga, as a player, coach and a personality. “He goes out onto the training ground every day with truly impressive spirit. He works like a 40-year-old. You certainly don't notice his age," commented FCB captain Philipp Lahm, praising Heynckes’ man management skills and meticulous approach. Thomas Müller simply admired his boss’s hunger for success: “He's extremely fired up, and gave the impression right from the start that he wanted to improve on last year." Dante looked ahead to the next couple of weeks and the potential crowning glory to the season: “Jupp deserves a fine send-off."