Jürgen Klinsmann says he is relishing getting down to business as the new coach of Hertha Berlin, describing it as "an honour" to take on his first Bundesliga managerial role in over a decade.
Though he never played for Hertha during his glittering career – instead starring at Stuttgarter Kickers, VfB Stuttgart and Bayern Munich in Germany, and at Inter Milan, Monaco and Tottenham Hotspur further afield – Klinsmann has a strong bond with the capital club, as he explained to a packed-out press conference on Wednesday.
"My father was a proud Hertha supporter and my son Jonathan played here for two years," he said. "It's the only club I'm actually a member of! Some things in football happen overnight, but that can't be said for my relationship to Hertha. I was asked whether I would help the club stabilise their season. It's an honour to take on such an exciting challenge and I'm incredibly motivated to do so. When I step into a role like this, I give 100 per cent."
The 1990 FIFA World Cup winner will not be the only new face at the Olympiastadion in the coming weeks and months, as he and Hertha sporting director Michael Preetz explained. Former Werder Bremen duo Alexander Nouri and Markus Feldhoff will act as Klinsmann's assistant coaches, while ex-Hertha defender Arne Friedrich takes up a new role as performance manager and Werner Leuthard joins the fitness team, having previously worked at the likes of Bayern, Schalke and Eintracht Frankfurt. Andreas Köpke will be the temporary goalkeeping coach, taking a hiatus from his long-term role with the Germany national team to link up with the club where his son Pascal plays as a striker.
"I've brought in new members of staff who are incredibly well prepared," Klinsmann declared. "They're full of energy and expertise, and champing at the bit to get started. The team needs to play better in the next few weeks! The most important thing now is to pick up points and move up the table. And when we're safely in mid-table, we need to keep looking up. That's what we'll be judged on."
Klinsmann also had warm words for his predecessor Ante Covic, who was relieved of his duties after picking up just 11 points from the first 12 games of the season. The Berlin-born Croatian had been in charge since the summer, when he took over from club legend Pal Dardai.
"I'm a fan of Ante, I really appreciate him," Klinsmann said. "During the two years my son was here, he worked a lot with Ante. I'm sure things will work out for him at another Bundesliga club."
Klinsmann has signed a deal through to the end of the season, with no plans to remain as head coach beyond 2019/20. The 55-year-old is instead likely to take up his intended role on the Hertha advisory board, which was announced earlier in November.
"No matter where I've been, my motto in life has always been to keep learning," said Klinsmann, who spent five years coaching the USA national team between 2011 and 2016. "Of course, I'm going to make mistakes. It won't be perfect, but I have faith. It's about accepting the difficult situation we're in, working together as a team and creating a bond with our fans. Hopefully their support can give the team the confidence boost they need."
Klinsmann and his new colleagues take over with Hertha currently 15th in the Bundesliga, and Borussia Dortmund set to visit the Olympiastadion on Saturday afternoon. Even if BVB were in UEFA Champions League action against Barcelona on Wednesday night, the 108-time Germany international is expecting a tough test on his Hertha bow.
"It won't be easy," he warned. "It's straight in at the deep end on Saturday! But we'll be up for it, and then the focus is simply on getting points."
Klinsmann, who has been based in the United States for many years, also revealed that he had been given the green light for the Hertha move by his American wife, Debbie.
"I won't be home for Thanksgiving, but that's OK with my wife. Two days ago I had no plans to be here, but sometimes things can go very quickly in football. My return flight to California is delayed until further notice!"
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