Heynckes' UCL journey comes full circle
Celebrations, quarrels and barking orders... Jupp Heynckes' final game on the biggest European stage once again showed the full spectrum of a coach's existence. As well as a dramatic finish. In the tunnel of the Bernabeu after the game, Heynckes struggled to regain his composure: "I know this was finally my last game as a coach in the Champions League, and I think that's maybe a good thing," the FCB coach announced following his side's frustrating semi-final elimination to Real Madrid. "I'm not emotional about saying goodbye. I'm just disappointed with the result." His watering eyes told their own story.
It was the end of the line for Don Jupp at the very place he made his Champions League debut as a coach in September 1997 when his Real team beat Rosenborg 4-1. Twenty-one years later and Heynckes' career came full circle with this semi-final match. It was only his seventh draw in his 47th Champions League fixture. He finished with 33 wins and just seven defeats!
Three finals, twice a champion
"I'm never melancholic," the 72-year-old said after the final whistle in Madrid. It was a result that brought to end a remarkable record of reaching the final in every season he had coached in the Champions League (1998, 2012, 2013). Twice he went on to lift the trophy, but this time it ended in the semi-finals.
Heynckes recalls the 2013 triumph with Bayern when he was sure he would never sit in a dugout again. However, he came out of retirement in October to help lead FCB to the verge of another European final, take the club from fifth in the Bundesliga to the title and into the DFB Cup final. "I don't think many 72-year-olds have been on an adventure like this," he added with a wry smile.
Emotional speech in the changing room
"I think that not just Bayern but the whole of Germany and the footballing world will be full of the utmost respect and praise for our team, our coach Jupp Heynckes and his staff," Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said after the game. Heynckes himself also thanked the team: "We've had a wonderful atmosphere in these few months and worked really well together. They're a squad with character, which is why it's a shame the players weren't rewarded for that."
Prior to that, Heynckes had said a few words in private to his players. "It was emotional," Rummenigge reported. "He said something important: We may not have reached the final in Kyiv, but we still have the DFB Cup final in Berlin in two and a half weeks!" Ending the season with a double should be a brilliant way to say farewell to Heynckes.