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Been there, done that, got the tattoo

  • Markus Babbel (r., with sporting director Ernst Tanner) was appointed Hoffenheim head coach in February
  • Since then, 1899 have drawn three of their four games and won the other (2-1 at Wolfsburg)
  • Babbel parted ways with his former club, Hertha BSC Berlin, last December
  • Happier days in the capital: Babbel and Hertha sporting director Michael Preetz (l.) celebrate the Bundesliga 2 title

1899 Hoffenheim is the third stop in Markus Babbel's still-young coaching career and the former Bayern Munich and Germany star is determined to make best use of the "fantastic possibilities" offered by the club from the south west - whose own rise from obscurity has been one of the most dramatic success stories of recent years in the German game.

The straight-talking Babbel has never been one to shirk a challenge and, having departed his previous post at Hertha BSC Berlin under a cloud of controversy, he is relieved to be getting back to the football bread-and-butter with Hoffenheim. bundesliga.com has compiled a few bits and pieces on a coach who has already known his share of bad times, as well as good.

Roots

Markus Babbel learned the rudiments of his trade with local club TSV Gilching/Argelsried but Bayern Munich were soon alerted to the youngster's talents. It was not long before he started making the short commute to the Bavarian capital, where he spent the next decade working his way up through the youth ranks. He made his senior debut for FC Bayern in 1991 - under the club's current head coach Jupp Heynckes.

Breakthrough

Unable at first to establish himself as a first-team defensive regular in the fiercely competitive Munich arena, Babbel spent the next couple of years on loan at Hamburger SV. Sixty top-flight appearances for the Red Shorts later - in the one pictured, it happens to be current FC Bayern sporting director Christian Nerlinger going to ground - he returned to the Bavarian capital ready to make his mark with the record champions.

Honours

Over the next six years, the silverware started accumulating at an impressive rate as Babbel helped a dominant FC Bayern to four domestic league titles, two DFB Cup successes and, in 1996, a comfortable 5-1 aggregate victory over French outfit FC Girondins de Bordeaux in the UEFA Cup final. The dramatic high point of the tournament occurred at the semi-final stage however. After drawing the first leg 2-2 at home to Barcelona, Bayern travelled to the Camp Nou and notched a 2-1 win, with Babbel scoring their first goal.

Germany

The summer of 1996 also delivered up Markus Babbel's finest hour in national team colours. Switching from his normal position of right back to fill in for the injured Jürgen Kohler in the centre of the defence, he played a key part in Germany's success at Euro 96 in England, crowned by a 2-1 extra-time victory over the Czech Republic courtesy of Oliver Bierhoff's Golden Goal. Babbel went on to make 51 international appearances all-told.

Liverpool

In July of 2000, Babbel swapped Munich for Merseyside - turning down the chance to join Real Madrid - when Gerard Houllier brought him to Liverpool on a free transfer. His first season at Anfield was spectacularly successful as the Reds proved to be in masterful form in the knockout tournaments, winning the League Cup, FA Cup and the UEFA Cup. The latter, played at Dortmund's Westfalenstadion, turned out to be a nine-goal thriller, Liverpool eventually edging Spanish underdogs Alaves 5-4 in extra time. Babbel got the ball rolling with the fourth-minute opener.

Illness

In the same year, while in the process of battling mononucleosis, he developed a feeling of numbness that started in the feet and worked its way up the right-hand side of his body. He turned out to be suffering from Guillain–Barré syndrome, a rare and potentially life-threatening disorder of the nervous system. Babbel gradually worked his way back to full fitness, but between them, the two illnesses kept him sidelined for a year. He remained at Liverpool until 2004, but struggled to regain his form of old.

Stuttgart

Babbel joined VfB Stuttgart in 2004 and bowed out on a high with them, swapping his boots for an assistant coaching role in the wake of the team's 2007 title triumph. In November 2008, he was given a shotgun promotion, succeeding Armin Veh as head coach. He went on guide Stuttgart to a third-place finish and a Champions League berth. The following season proved less successful and Babbel parted ways with VfB in December. At the time he was also studying intensively for his coaching badge - which he duly got a few months later.

Berlin

Next stop, in the summer of 2010, was Berlin, with the unambiguous task of taking freshly-relegated Hertha BSC straight back up to the Bundesliga. Under Babbel's charge, the mission was accomplished with something to spare and the alte Dame returned to the top flight as division champions the following May. The 2011-12 season began solidly, and included an impressive win on the road at champions Dortmund. Just before the winter break though, Babbel was handed his papers once again, in controversial circumstances, after a very public falling-out with sporting director Michael Preetz.

Hoffenheim

Now, Babbel is at the helm of 1899 Hoffenheim, following the short-lived tenure of Holger Stanislawski. He set out his stall early on, noting, "The fitness levels of the players are absolutely fine - but I have a different playing system and a different philosophy of the game, which will require a bit more effort from us. And it's not always going to be fun." Playmaker Sejad Salihovic has already discovered that to his cost, earning a temporary demotion to the reserves for a breach of discipline. But with 1899 unbeaten in Babbel's first four games in charge, the methodology appears to be paying off.

In the blood

He has, among other things, an angel, the initials of his children and a dedication to his favourite music - "It's only rock n' roll, but I like it" - and for some time now, Babbel's expanding collection of tattoos has also encompassed a tribute to pretty much every club he has worked for. True to his word, he had a Hertha BSC flag inked onto his left arm after leading the Berlin outfit back into the big time - so is it next stop a tattoo parlour in Sinsheim then?

More about: 1899 Hoffenheim >

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