Created on 22-06-2008 at 00:00 AM
The official start of summer on Saturday saw blue skies, blazing sunshine and soaring temperatures in Munich, rather reminiscent of California. Martin Vasquez, the new assistant coach at Bayern, may well have felt instantly at home in the Bavarian capital.
Sitting down for a chat with fcbayern.de, the 44-year-old described the city which will provide his new home as "wonderful“ and "very impressive“. Dressed casually in jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers, Vasquez had just finished his morning jog in Munich's famous English Garden. "Munich has a huge amount to offer: history, culture, nature. It's a great place to come and live with my family," he enthused.
New job 'an honour'
Up to now, the Mexican-born coach has lived with his wife and three kids Michael (16), Erika (14) and Emily (5) in Los Angeles, where he was assistant coach with MLS outfit Chivas USA. Vasquez officially takes up the same position with Bayern on 30 June, where he will report to new head coach Jürgen Klinsmann.
Vasquez admits he was "very surprised" when Klinsmann approached him with a job offer at the beginning of the year. The pair became acquainted at a Soccer Camp in 2003 and maintained regular contact thereafter. "We often spoke about how we might work together," explained Vasquez. "But I never thought it would happen this fast. And the fact it's Bayern means it's a great honour.“
The feeling of surprise was not confined to Vasquez, as none of the so-called experts had his name in the frame to join Munich. Berti Vogts, Guido Buchwald and Argentine legend Osvaldo Ardiles were among the many names mentioned in the media, but Klinsmann opted for Vasquez, "a permanent driving force and a determined and passionate leader of his men."
Vasquez spent his playing career in Mexico (Guadalajara, FC Puebla, CD Veracruz, CF Atlas) and the USA (Tampa Bay Mutiny, San Jose Clash). Between 1988 and 1992 he made ten appearances for Mexico under Manuel Lapuente and Cesar Luis Menotti. All these matches were officially classified as friendlies, as Mexico were suspended by FIFA from international competition at the time for falsifying dates of birth.
World Cup dream dashed
Vasquez took American citizenship after his marriage and duly became a regular for the USA national team. He only missed out on appearing at the 1998 World Cup in France because of a serious knee injury sustained three months before the tournament. He hung up his boots a years later, and embarked on a new career in coaching.
Vasquez has now been in Munich for a full week, working with Nick Theslof on preparations for the new season. He attended the Germany v Portugal Euro 2008 clash in Basel last Thursday and cast a watchful eye over a number of his new charges. He has also been progressing his move from the States. A suitable house has been found and is currently being furnished, ready for his family to join him in mid-July.
He is "thoroughly looking forward" to his new position in Munich, where he will join Klinsmann and Theslof in supervising the day-to-day training programme on the practice ground. "We share the same philosophy: dynamic, attacking and vertical football. Our primary objective is for every player to improve every day, and the team as well in its turn.“ Focused on the key areas of technique, fitness and tactics, the training programme will be much more individually tailored to the players' needs in the future. "We're there to help them," Vasquez explained.
Theslof and Vasquez will also work on tactics with selected groups of players, aiming to improve the on-field organisation and understanding between individual players and the various areas of the team. The overriding goal is to defend two domestic trophies and make a good impression in the Champions League after the club’s enforced one-year absence. "I understand the significance of Bayern as a club and the responsibility that goes with working here," commented Vasquez, promising "to give my best every day and contribute to our success.“