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Heynckes to Leverkusen

Ex-FCB boss ‘excited by the challenge’

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In a development which has taken the German footballing world completely by surprise, Jupp Heynckes has elected to postpone his retirement again and return to the Bundesliga on a full-time basis. The 64-year-old, who had intended to withdraw from the game after his stint as Bayern caretaker boss for the last five matches of the 2008-9 campaign, has agreed to coach Bayer Leverkusen until 30 June 2011.

“During my brief spell in Munich, I realised the fires were still burning,” explained Heynckes, “so I’m thrilled to be taking on this new challenge. I was delighted by Bayer’s interest in me.” ‘Don Jupp’ takes over at Leverkusen from Bruno Labbadia, who is switching to Hamburger SV.

Attracted by potential

“Heynckes was our first choice, especially as it’s a subject we’ve kept coming back to in previous years,” commented Leverkusen managing director Wolfgang Holzhäuser, “we’re certain our young team will profit enormously from his experience and natural authority.”

In contrast to the situation at Bayern, where Heynckes emerged from years of retirement to perform a four-week stint as Jürgen Klinsmann’s successor, the coach will be asked to provide long-term success in Leverkusen. The veteran boss is confident of leading Bayer back into continental competition, after the Rhineland side failed to qualify for Europe for the second season in a row. “I know most of the players well. I’m very excited by the challenge of leading this young and extremely talented team back into European competition,” he said, “I see great potential.”