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Profile: Jürgen Klinsmann

Goal poacher turned inspirational coach

The announcement on Friday that Jürgen Klinsmann would succeed Bayern’s outgoing coach Ottmar Hitzfeld at the end of the season came as a bolt from the blue. The one-time world-class striker will take up the club’s sporting reins on July 1. It is Klinsmann’s second job as a coach, after leading the German national side to third place in the 2006 World Cup on home soil.

After taking on the job of national coach in the summer of 2004 following Germany’s disastrous European Championship campaign, Klinsmann, now 43, launched a mini-revolution within the German Football Association (DFB), causing an uproar with his new organisation and training techniques. Yet in the end Klinsmann’s methods were vindicated as he led the team to 21 victories in 34 matches.

New face

“It’s completely normal that the work of a national coach is viewed very critically,” Klinsmann said at the time. He put his ideas into practice by gathering round him a team of specialists, including American fitness experts, the Swiss chief scout Urs Siegenthaler and a specially hired motivational coach. They enabled him to assemble all the complex individual elements of the national team into a coherent whole.

Klinsmann, who was born in Göppingen near Stuttgart on 30 July 1964, transformed the previously unadventurous playing style of the German team by focusing on the direct, exciting football he had once embodied as a striker in Germany, Italy, France and England. “As an attacker, I often used to try things on the field where neither my opponent nor I knew what was going to happen,” he says.

Champion of Europe and the world

As a player Klinsmann was a World Cup winner in 1990 in Italy and as captain led the German national side to the European Championship title in England six years later. He also took a bronze medal as part of the country’s Olympic soccer team in Seoul in 1988. He scored 47 goals in 108 international appearances and shares with Rudi Völler second place in the all-time Germany goalscoring records. Perhaps most unforgettable was his performance in the World Cup Round of 16 in 1990 against the Netherlands, when he stepped in after the sending-off of Völler to crown his best-ever display with the first goal in a 2-1 victory.

Apart from his German clubs Stuttgarter Kickers, VfB Stuttgart and Bayern, he played for Internazionale, Monaco, Tottenham Hotspur und Sampdoria. He played for the Reds between 1995 and 1997, scoring 31 goals in 65 appearances. His still unmatched record of 15 goals in European competition in one season was a major contribution toward Bayern’s 1996 UEFA Cup triumph.

The original diver

Before the first of his two spells with Tottenham he was nicknamed ‘the diver’ by English fans because of the supposed ease with which he went to ground in the penalty area. Klinsmann’s witty response was to celebrate his first goal for Spurs with a full-length dive onto the turf, and he staged the press conference at which he announced his departure from Tottenham at a swimming baths.

From then on Klinsmann won the hearts of fans and journalists in England, where he retains respect and affection to this day. Just recently he was considered a fringe candidate to succeed sacked national coach Steve McClaren, and was also linked with the managerial hot seats at leading clubs Chelsea and Liverpool.

Famous eruption

Currently a resident of Huntington Beach, California, Klinsmann is also remembered in Germany for his famous eruption of temper in 1997, kicking a hole in a pitchside advertising hoarding after Bayern coach Giovanni Trapattoni substituted him with amateur player Carsten Lakies in a Bundesliga match. Klinsmann married American former model Debbie Chin in 1995 and has two children, Jonathan and Leila.