Zurich – Jupp Heynckes is the FIFA World Coach of the Year for 2013. The former FC Bayern München tactician saw of the challenges of Borussia Dortmund's Jürgen Klopp and Manchester United supremo Alex Ferguson, who likewise retired at the end of last season, to pick up the coveted trophy at the FIFA Ballon d'Or awards ceremony in Zurich's Kongresshaus on Monday evening.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, Heynckes touches on the personal significance of the honour and Franck Ribery's surprise third place in the Player of the Year vote, as well as revealing who else he would have liked to see earn a spot in the FIFPro World XI.
bundesliga.com: Jupp Heynckes, what does winning the World Coach of the Year award mean to you?
Jupp Heynckes: It's a very special honour, all the more so coming at the end of my career, and I'm very happy. It's the most prestigious individual award you can get after all. But I certainly couldn't have won it without my team and the great way we worked together.
bundesliga.com: What was your first reaction?
Heynckes: I'm too long in the tooth for exuberant celebrations, but ten or 15 years ago I'd probably have jumped for joy.
bundesliga.com: Any thoughts on the other candidates - Sir Alex Ferguson?
Heynckes: He did a fantastic job at Manchester United. It's quite an achievement to stay for so long at a top European club. I can only doff my cap to him.
bundesliga.com: And Borussia Dortmund's Jürgen Klopp? He offered you his congratulations before the result was even announced...
Heynckes: I know he really meant it. I'd have liked to have chatted with him a bit longer. As a fellow coach, he was always very professional. I'd have liked to tell him he's still young and some day he'll be up there in my place. He has plenty of time yet.
bundesliga.com: Do you have sympathy for Franck Ribery after he missed out on the Player of the Year vote?
Heynckes: Franck will soon get over it, because he's got another great year in the making with FC Bayern, of that I'm sure. It's a pity he didn't win the Ballon d'Or after such a fantastic twelve months. But there are other Bayern players who would have earned it as well, such as Philipp Lahm, who's been playing at a consistently world-class level for years.
bundesliga.com: Did you know that Ribery finished third?
Heynckes:Third? I didn't know that, I assumed he was the runner-up. That's a real surprise to me. You have to respect these things, though. It was great that he won the UEFA Best Player in Europe award, anyway. But it's a real pity he didn't cap that with the World Player trophy, I'd have loved to see him do that.
bundesliga.com: Three FC Bayern players made the FIFPro World XI, as against four from FC Barcelona. Was that fair?
Heynckes: It's nice that Bayern are so well-represented in the team, and thoroughly merited on the performances they put in last year. No team has ever been so dominant in the Bundesliga. But I have to say, I would have liked to see Arjen Robben and Thomas Müller picked as well. And Dortmund also had a few worthy contenders, such as Robert Lewandowski or Ilkay Gündogan.
bundesliga.com: Are FC Bayern going to retain their Bundesliga title?
Heynckes: I think so. They've brought in a couple of great new players in Mario Götze and Thiago Alcantara, and Robert Lewandowski will be coming on board this summer as well. FC Bayern are a footballing superpower.
Interview by Alexis Menuge