Since the announcement that he would be replaced by Pep Guardiola, Heynckes had remained tight-lipped on what the future would hold for him, but the man who led Bayern to an historic treble this season has decided to call time on a glittering career that included five Bundesliga titles and over 1,000 Bundesliga appearances as a player and coach. “I don’t like definitive statements, but I can assure you that I don’t intend to coach again," he told German magazine Der Spiegel.
After a campaign of such unprecedented success, in which Bayern became the first German club and only the seventh overall to win a league, domestic Cup and European Cup treble, the 68-year-old believes now is the “right time for a generational change at Bayern. Pep Guardiola is 26 years younger than me and is a successful and sought-after coach. The club had to act fast”.
He did admit that if Bayern had failed in its bid to recruit the former Barcelona man, he would have considered staying on. “[But] the way things have worked out is great for me. He will inherit a perfectly functioning team.”
Martinez a "winner"
Bequeathing what many consider to be the world's best club side was a point of particular pride for the 1974 FIFA World Cup winner. “Who has a better team than FC Bayern at the moment? We are world-class,” he told kicker magazine. “I wish Guardiola all the very best and it would please me greatly to see Bayern win the league and the Champions League again next season. Then I would congratulate my players.”
One of those players, Spanish international Javi Martinez, was an especially important cog in the Bayern machine this season and Heynckes admitted it was a feather in his cap that he fought so hard to sign the 24-year-old. “It was my wish to recruit him," he told Der Spiegel. “Early on he wasn’t playing all that well, but soon [Manuel] Neuer, [Philipp] Lahm and [Bastian] Schweinsteiger came to me saying: “He's a real winner.” Things like that increase the players’ faith in you as a coach.”
"Players trusted me"
The harmony among the squad that helped them to such astounding success in 2012/13 was no accident according to the Mönchengladbach native. “I think it had a lot to do with my style of leadership. The first time I took them for training, I said: 'Everyone has to do their bit in defence, it doesn’t matter who you are.' And it was clear to them that I was serious, and that if they didn’t pull their weight, they wouldn’t get to play."
“I'm always honest with my players, even when I knew that sometimes that honesty would be hard for them to hear. They trusted me and in my abilities,” he went on to say. That belief was expertly and eloquently summarised by club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who said after the Bundesliga title was won: “Our coach is an extraordinary man, with a character far from the norm in modern football. He's pleasant, polite, modest and a master of his craft. It’s because of you, dear Jupp, that we are able to sit here and celebrate together.”
Fingers crossed for Brazil 2014
With what might well prove to be his final word before his retirement commences, Heynckes expressed his desire to see the Germany team achieve success at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil next summer: “The Champions League final between Bayern and Dortmund showed how many good players we have, as well as those playing abroad. We want to be world champions and that’s the attitude we need to have going to Brazil. It’s the attitude that my players at Bayern have.”
He also hoped that the collective success of his Reds team will be mirrored with individual recognition for the team’s most impressive members: “ Thomas Müller will receive lots of awards in the future, so I will vote for Philipp Lahm as German Footballer of the Year, Bastian Schweinsteiger for European Footballer of the Year and Franck Ribery as World Football of the Year."