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Ottmar 'The General' Hitzfeld enjoyed tremendous success in charge of Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. - © imago
Ottmar 'The General' Hitzfeld enjoyed tremendous success in charge of Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. - © imago
60 years of Bundesliga

Ottmar Hitzfeld: one of the most successful Bundesliga coaches of all time

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Ottmar Hitzfeld won it all with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund at the height of a venerable coaching career in the Bundesliga.

A striker in his younger days, Hitzfeld first crossed paths with Uli Hoeneß - the brains behind Bayern's rise to global footballing powerhouse - whilst playing for West Germany's 1972 Olympics team.

It was 26 years before the pair worked together again, Hitzfeld having been installed as Bayern coach after a decorated six-year tenure in charge of Bundesliga rivals Dortmund.

Hitzfeld oversaw 480 Bundesliga matches as a head coach, having played in only 22 for VfB Stuttgart in the late 70s. - ndreas Rentz/Bongarts/Getty Images

Hitzfeld had already won two Swiss Super League titles and three Swiss Cups during formative stints with Aarau and Grasshoppers when he took the Dortmund reins in 1991.

The Löhrrach native steered BVB to the UEFA Cup final in his second season in charge, losing to Juventus - but revenge would be sweet. Back-to-back Bundesliga champions in 1995 and 1996, the Black-Yellows added the Champions League to their haul in 1997, beating the Old Lady 3-1 in the final at Munich's Olympic Stadium.

Dortmund fans still celebrate Hitzfeld's triumphant tenure to this day. - imago sportfotodienst/imago/Thomas Bielefeld

Hitzfeld made Munich his home a year later, crossing the Klassiker divide like Udo Lattek, Erich Ribbeck, Reinhard Saftig, Branko Zebec, Otto Rehhagel, Pal Csernai before him.

'The General' hit the ground running, overseeing three straight Bundesliga title wins, the third forming part of a 2000/01 domestic-European double. Beaten finalists in 1998/99, Bayern edged Valencia on penalties to win their first title of the Champions League era - and first European Cup since a team containing Hoeneß won three on the spin between 1974 and 1976.

Bayern lifted another two Bundesliga-DFB Cup doubles across Hitzfeld's two stints at the helm (1998-2004 & 2007-2008), just as they had in his debut season in the Bavarian capital. To date, his seven titles makes him the most successful coach in Bundesliga history after Lattek (eight titles).

Hitzfeld rounded off his coaching career by taking charge of Switzerland, guiding them to the FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa in 2010 and Brazil in 2014, after which he announced his retirement, aged 65.

"He is the best manager I ever had," said Germany great Lothar Matthäus, in a fitting salute to a bona-fide legend of the coaching game.