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'Tiger' with down-to-earth charm

Hermann Gerland celebrates his 60th birthday

Anybody who saw him at the Grünwalder Stadium knows why his nickname is ‘Tiger’. The way he constantly bounced up and down on the touchline. How he shouted, growled and hissed. The way he devoured sandwiches after the game in a rage or in delight. How he walked from the Grünwalder ground to Säbener Strasse lost in his thoughts and wearing his football boots. The Tiger was feared, the Tiger was respected - and that has carried on right up to his sixtieth birthday today.

Hermann was born on 4 June 1954 in Bochum, the oldest son in a miner's family. “I was nine years old when my father died,” he explained. “I was one of four children and we were poor.” This period shaped his character. Duty, motivation, commitment – all factors that helped Gerland get into professional football. “I'm a grafter who loves football rather than the fancy Dan stuff,” he adds, “my motto is: no pain, no gain.”

In his youth Gerland was “obsessed” with realising his dream. “I wanted to show everybody what I could do and I trained with utter determination.” Hermann played in the Bundesliga from 1972 to 1984 for VfL Bochum. An uncompromising defender who quickly earned the nickname of ‘The Oak’. Gerland is still called that in Bochum, where he started his coaching career.

The talent spotter

After three years at VfL Bochum (1985-88) his coaching career took him to FC Nürnberg (88-90, 95-96), Tennis Borussia Berlin (1996-98), Arminia Bielefeld (1999-2000) and Ulm (2000-01). He was able to hone his skills at FC Bayern. Jupp Heynckes, then first team head coach, brought him to the club in 1990 to manage the reserve side. Gerland made his name as the possibly the most successful talent spotter in the Bundesliga.

Gerland was in charge of the FC Bayern second eleven from 1990 to 1995, 2001 to 2009 and 2010/11 when they were in the third tier of German football. His main achievements on the pitch were the Regional League title in 2004, reaching the last sixteen of the DFB Cup (1993/94) and the quarter-finals (1994/95, 2004/05). But the most important factor for Gerland was to help players make it in the Bundesliga.

The list is long: Philipp Lahm, Owen Hargreaves, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Holger Badstuber, Thomas Müller, Christian Lell, Christian Nerlinger, Dietmar Hamann, Markus Babbel, Mats Hummels, Zvjezdan Misimovic, Paolo Guerrero, Piotr Trochowski... in retrospect, it's not just Schweinsteiger who was glad to work hard for Gerland. “He was always frank and honest. It was good to have someone who didn't butter you up but rather told you a few home truths,” explained the Germany international with 101 caps to his credit.

Behind the scenes operator

Gerland's aim remains “making players better.” Nowadays, when he visits the Grünwalder Stadium, he does sit down. Hermann has been the first team assistant coach since 2009 where he has worked alongside Jupp Heynckes, Louis van Gaal and now Pep Guardiola - “an absolutely dream job” as he says. “There's no doubt about it. Being a player is even better. But the next best thing is being assistant coach. Or the goalkeeping coach. Head coach is a much harder and onerous task. I don't want to be centre stage.”

The father of three and now grandfather enjoys cult status with FC Bayern supporters. They call the Grünwalder Stadium the Hermann Gerland Ground, and the fans at the Allianz Arena often sing songs about him. The part-time horse breeder (“my greatest passion after football and my wife”) is very popular with the players. Hermann Gerland, Tiger and Oak, but above all a warm human being with unmistakable charm – wishes Hermann Gerland very happy returns on his sixtieth birthday.