Heynckes: It was a real pleasure
Jupp Heynckes thought he had finished his career in mid-2013, but he in fact came out of retirement on 9 October 2017. Aged 72, he took over FC Bayern for the fourth time. It was the beginning of another Heynckes success story. FCB have only lost three of the 40 competitive fixtures under him this season. His team turned a five-point deficit into a cushion of more than 20 points in the Bundesliga, advanced to the Champions League semi-finals, and have the chance to round off the double in the DFB Cup final next week. Ahead of his last Bundesliga match Heynckes talked to club journal *Bayern-Magazin*about his "additional chapter" in Munich. fcbayern.com presents extracts from the extensive interview.
Jupp Heynckes, the German championship title, the DFB Cup final, the Champions League semi-finals: if someone had offered it to you when you took over, would you have accepted?
When I started I didn't think of winning the championship title or advancing to the cup final or the Champions League semi-finals. First I considered how to approach the task, how to manage the training load. Then players like Thomas Müller and Franck Ribéry were unavailable. It was a difficult time. Then there was the cup match in Leipzig at the end of October. We got through on penalties, Sven Ulreich saved the final penalty. That was the crucial point when the team regained momentum and confidence.
You took charge at FC Bayern in a very turbulent period and quickly got the team back on track. Now you can reveal your secret...
It was a mammoth task. When I took over along with Peter Hermann and Hermann Gerland we left no stone unturned. We introduced our philosophy, our method, our meticulousness -- and achieved a lot. If you look at how Bayern played in October and how they played at the Bernabéu, they're worlds apart. Bastian Schweinsteiger told me via WhatsApp he's never seen anyone change as much as we've done since October. He said we turned in an incredible display at the Bernabéu. I received many messages like this. This great development is an achievement by the team, the coaching staff and all the club officials.
Do you remember what you told the team on your first day at the beginning of October?
We were in the international break then, the players returned to the Säbener Strasse one by one, so I gave a total of three inaugural addresses in the fitness room (laughing). I told the players we'd guide them in the ideal way. And then I quoted Usain Bolt because I had just read a biography on him before I came to Munich. When he celebrated his biggest successes, he said something like: 'Of course I'm blessed with exceptional talent, but I could have never achieved the big triumphs without my team.' I wanted to tell my team: you won't achieve anything in football without team spirit and team work. That's why you can't just buy a team to win the Champions League. They have to grow together.
The meeting with Stuttgart on Saturday is your last Bundesliga match, after which you'll hoist the championship shield for the eighth time. How emotional will the day be for you?
I can't tell you that at the moment. Basically I'm very sober and relaxed, but on the other hand I'm an emotional person when it comes to my team and my coaching staff. I never planned these eight months, they were an additional chapter in my biography, albeit very exceptional. To take over a top European club like FC Bayern aged 72, turn everything upside down and return it to winning ways: I can't tell you how emotional it'll be for me.
Do you think your farewell as a coach will be easier than in 2013 because it is 'only' an epilogue to your career this time?
Of course saying goodbye to my team and my coaching staff won't be easy for me. It's been a real pleasure going to Säbener Strasse every day because the atmosphere is always great. But I'm realistic enough to know my energy isn't infinite. I hope I still have some years left, and that I can enjoy them with my family. I'm looking forward to it. And in that sense it'll be easy to retire.
In what state will you hand over FC Bayern to your successor?
You saw how we played recently, for example in Madrid or domestically in the cup semi-final away to Leverkusen. It was very important this season to give young players a perspective again. I do think my coaching staff and I played a crucial role so that the team functions well again, that they have a clear system and morale and discipline. All that won't be a disadvantage for my successor.
There are a few parallels between you and Niko Kovac: both of you came or come to FC Bayern before having won a trophy as coach of another club. Both of you know the Bundesliga as a player and as a coach. FC Bayern was or will be a second Bundesliga club as a coach. Do you recognise yourself in him, at least to a certain extent?
There are certainly similarities but everybody has to go his own way. I've never forgotten that FC Bayern gave me this chance when I was a young coach, and now Niko gets the chance to really push on in his career. But you have to know one thing: to be head coach at FC Bayern is a big chance, but it's also a tremendous responsibility.
Our last question: what are you most looking forward to at home?
Mainly the state of actually being at home. With my wife, with my family and my pets. I'd like to come to rest and clear my mind for the things I like: reading books, sporting activity, calling friends, going to the restaurant or the theatre. And watching football as a fan, relaxed, not as a means to an end. There was not enough time for all that, and it's actually absurd: you live in the wonderful city of Munich and have no social life. But often I was just too tired when I got back to my hotel room in the evening after work. I'm looking forward to returning to normal everyday life.