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Lattek at 75

A champion among champion coaches

Udo Lattek has spent almost the last decade and a half providing colour commentary on the Bundesliga for sports TV channel DSF. A much-loved and regular guest on the station’s Sunday morning round table show, he will appear again this weekend – on the day after his 75th birthday. Indeed, the “champion among champion coaches” will be the focus of the programme featuring star guests Uli Hoeneß, Paul Breitner, Bernd Schuster and Matthias Sammer.

“You don’t quite celebrate a 75th birthday like you once would have done. But I’m looking forward to seeing former friends and players on DSF,” Latztek said. “I’m not planning a big party. I’ve been telling people: just do what you think you have to do.”

Lattek would certainly have deserved a major celebration, if only as a testament to his remarkable career record of 15 trophies as a coach and fully eight Bundesliga title – six at the Bayern helm. He remains the most successful German coach of all time, and along with Giovanni Trapattoni, is the only boss to have won all three European competitions. In 1974, he led Bayern to European Cup glory.

Success in many places

His arrival at Bayern came out of the blue. “One day, I was approached by Franz Beckenbauer. He said: I’ve been told by club president Neudecker and general manager Schwan to ask if you’d consider coming to Munich. We’re having problems with Branko Zebec and all the internationals at the club want you. So I signed a three-year deal, which turned into five. That’s when the whole circus surrounding the coaches began,” recalls Lattek, who was previously employed by the German FA.

The coach left Bayern in 1975 and joined Borussia Mönchenladbach, where he enjoyed a productive spell in charge. He moved to Dortmund and then Barcelona – where he coached Diego Maradona for a time – before returning to Munich in 1983. He rattled up another domestic title hat-trick, but missed out on a second European Cup triumph in an unlucky defeat to Porto.

Grateful Bayern

He thought he had ended his career at this point, only to return as director of sport with FC Köln (twice), and as coach at Schalke and Borussia Dortmund. In 2000, he successfully steered BVB away from relegation. “I always tried to convince my players about my ideas,” says Lattek, an astute reader of dressing room atmospheres.

“Bayern Munich struck lucky with Udo Lattek,” declares FCB chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, “I played under him twice here at Bayern. Udo was a fantastic teacher, a spectacular personality and an important figure in creating mia-san-mia, the special assurance and confidence which characterises Bayern.” Lattek himself has a clear conscience these days. “I’d basically say I’ve done more things right than wrong.”

Bayern Munich wishes Udo Lattek health, energy and spirit, as he continues his superb commentary and journalistic duties and benefits the game with his expert knowledge and wonderfully humorous manner.