Jürgen Klinsmann has been there and done it at the highest level as a player and as a coach. - © imagoimages
Jürgen Klinsmann has been there and done it at the highest level as a player and as a coach. - © imagoimages

Jürgen Klinsmann: the life of a world football legend


A Bundesliga and world football legend on the pitch, Jürgen Klinsmann has given his life to the beautiful game. But where did it all begin, what journey did he take and what don't you know about the World Cup and European Championship winner?

Let bundesliga.com tell you all you need to know about the Germany icon and now Hertha Berlin coach.

When Klinsmann turned professional at the age of 16, he turned his back on the family baking business to pursue his own career. After finishing his baker's apprenticeship, he was one of the brightest emerging talents at Stuttgart Kickers before joining city rivals VfB in the Bundesliga in 1984. Year by year, they helped hone his talents and moulded him, in spite of his size and slender frame, into one of the German game's most fearsome attacking propositions.

Klinsmann ranks fifth in the Germany national team's all-time top-scorers' classification, with 47 goals in a decorated decade of service for his country. The early days of his international career came when he fired his hometown club to the final of the UEFA Cup, where he would lose out to a Diego Maradona-inspired Napoli. Just a few years later, however, and Klinsmann would gain sweet revenge over Maradona's Argentina by lifting the FIFA World Cup in Rome with West Germany.

Rome was also where the 1987/88 Bundesliga's top goalcorer and Germany's Footballer of the Year would finally get his hands on the UEFA Cup, with Inter Milan. From there he was at Monaco for two seasons before  arriving in England and marking his maiden outing with a goal.

Nineteen more league goals followed, and Klinsmann was everybody's darling as he won over the critics and was named England's Footballer of the Year. He may have fallen a step short of reaching Wembley that season, despite inspiring Spurs to a last-gasp victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup quarter-finals, and scoring a penalty in the 4-1 semi-final defeat to Everton, but he would return to the iconic stadium just 12 months later as his career reached another peak.

Jürgen Klinsmann got revenge over Diego Maradona (r.) by winning the World Cup in 1990. - imago sportfotodienst

Now back in Germany with Bayern Munich, where he furthered his reputation as being the top-scorer of each team he had played in, Klinsmann picked up a second UEFA Cup with the Bavarians before returning to England for an unforgettable summer. Six years after winning the World Cup, Klinsmann got his hands on the European Championship as he finally got to climb those famous Wembley steps to lift a trophy aloft, to the appreciation also of many English fans who had been touched by his time on their shores.

Klinsmann wound down his playing career with a maiden Bundesliga title with Bayern in 1997, a second stint in Serie A with Sampdoria, and a successful swansong with Spurs, scoring a further nine league goals in 15 Premier League outings. At the 1998 World Cup, he pulled on a Germany shirt for one last time, although he would be seen wearing a DFB suit six years later, when he launched his coaching career with the ultimate of assignments.

Two years after replacing Rudi Völler as head coach of Germany, Klinsmann was wowing the fans again – this time on home soil – as Germany marched towards World Cup glory. Their dreams were dashed by eventual World champions Italy in the semi-final stage, but Klinsmann had succeeded in bringing enthusiasm back to German football, and his decision to step down after finishing third in his home city of Stuttgart was met with genuine tears of sadness across the country.

Watch: Klinsmann: Stuttgart's favourite son!

Several years analysing the game from his home in Huntington Beach, California recharged his batteries for a return to Germany, and a return to management at Bayern. He overhauled the club's Säbener Straße headquarters and introduced a philosophy at the Bavarian club which, while it may not have brought success on a personal level – Klinsmann was dismissed with five games remaining of a disappointing season – the legacy he left behind served as an inspiration behind how the record champions are now run.

Club coaching was not Klinsmann's cup of tea, however, and he turned down numerous offers until the right one came along, from US Soccer. In 2011, Klinsmann took the reins of his adopted home and led them, with his energy and enthusiasm, to a formidable friendly win in Italy in 2012.

Jürgen Klinsmann became coach of the USMNT in 2011, after having led Germany to third at the 2006 World Cup and had a spell on the Bayern Munich bench. - 2014 Getty Images

Although keen to play down the expectations prior to the 2014 World Cup, the USMNT emerged from a difficult group behind eventual champions Germany but ahead of Portugal and Ghana. A 2-1 extra-time defeat to Belgium followed in the last 16, but the side had performed well against tough opposition, providing optimism for the future in the US.

However, Klinsmann's tenure as USMNT head coach ended during their ill-fated qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup. Nevertheless, the name Klinsmann remains inextricably linked with Bundesliga, German and US soccer - and will now return to the limelight after his appointment as Hertha head coach until the end of the 2019/20 season.