The Bundesliga has played host to a number of coaches over 60 years who have helped shape the German footballing landscape and achieved legendary status, from Jupp Heynckes, Hennes Weisweiler and Udo Lattek through to the modern era with Pep Guardiola, Jürgen Klopp, Louis van Gaal and more.
Coaches come and go in football, but some truly leave their mark on the game and boots that are nigh on impossible to fill. They become cult figures, record-breakers and masterminds behind success, taking their team to the next level, defining an entire generation and even setting them up for further success in the future.
Some clubs only find themselves where they are now thanks to one particular coach being in the right place at the right time. Watch the video above to learn more about some of German football’s most iconic coaches from the last six decades.
Going back to the early days, Weisweiler earned legendary status at two clubs – arch-rivals, in fact – thanks to his success with Cologne and Borussia Mönchengladbach. There was Lattek, who helped define the 70s with his titles at Gladbach and turning Bayern Munich into a winning machine, winning the Bundesliga a record eight times as a coach.
Otto Rehhagel and Thomas Schaaf brought the glory days to Werder Bremen with their respective stints of over a decade at the helm. The former even made history when guiding promoted Kaiserslautern to the title in 1998.
Into the modern era, Ottmar Hitzfeld guided both Bayern and Borussia Dortmund to domestic glory and also the UEFA Champions League – the only coach to win it with two clubs from the same country. Van Gaal laid the foundations for Bayern’s current success with big changes at the club and giving a certain Thomas Müller his debut. He was followed by Heynckes, in the third of four spells in charge, who led the Munich club to their historic treble in 2013. Guardiola succeeded him to fundamentally change how the game is played in Germany. They both came up against Klopp at BVB, whose swashbuckling style of play upset the applecart and put Dortmund back on the footballing map.
The great Carlo Ancelotti has called Munich home and Hansi Flick guided Bayern to an unprecedented sextuple in 2020, while successor Julian Nagelsmann broke the mould first at Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig as the figurehead of a new generation of young coaches.
Christian Streich has established himself as an institution at Freiburg over the last decade, following the 16 years Volker Finke enjoyed at the helm as he established the Black Forest club at the top level. And now there’s a new record holder in German football as Frank Schmidt guided Heidenheim to the first division for the first time ever and then surpassed Finke as the longest-serving coach in professional German football history after over 16 years in the hotseat in 2023.
Sixty years of top-class football overseen by some truly legendary coaches.