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 Posted by Stephan Uersfeld
Jul 2, 2014

Germany thanks Ottmar Hitzfeld

Germany paid tribute to Ottmar Hitzfeld after he called time upon his managerial career following Switzerland's World Cup exit against Argentina on Tuesday.

- Delaney: Argentina finally break down Swiss

Before coaching Switzerland at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, Hitzfeld was one of the most successful Bundesliga coaches of all time.

With Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, he won seven top-flight titles and three DFB-Pokals, while he also lifted the Champions League trophy with Dortmund in 1997 and Bayern in 2001.

"Every decision that I made luckily turned out to be the right one. That's a gift from heaven. I made the right decision with the choice of my clubs," Hitzfeld told dfb.de in January.

Hitzfeld had hoped to come up against Germany at the World Cup, but unfavourable results during the group stages and the round-of-16 defeat against Argentina ultimately ended his dream.

"It would be a highlight to play Germany," Hitzfeld said back in January, when he also explained his decision not to become Germany coach in 2004.

"I would have loved to become Bundestrainer, but I wasn't capable of it in 2004. I had a small burn-out. It was the right time to break."

Instead, Hitzfeld took a break from coaching, only to return to Bayern for his second stint in 2007. In that time, Jurgen Klinsmann became Bundestrainer, before stepping aside for Joachim Low two years later.

On Tuesday, the day Jurgen Klopp overtook Hitzfeld as the longest-reigning Dortmund coach, the latter's managerial career came to an end, with Germany paying tribute to one of the greatest coaches in recent decades.

"Thank you, Ottmar!" the official Dortmund account tweeted alongside a picture of the "man in the trench coat," as Hitzfeld had been dubbed during his tenure at the club. In the picture he is wearing his famous outfit and is on the shoulders of his players following the 3-1 win in the 1997 Champions League final against Juventus.

The German news wire SID looked back on Hitzfeld's final day of his coaching career.

"That last day as a coach was more emotional, sadder and crueler than every other of the 10,000 previous days," the news wire said. "The last act of his great coaching career had nothing to do with a happy end."

SID referred to Hitzfeld's 81-year-old brother, who passed away on the eve of the Argentina clash, and also the 118th-minute winner by Angel Di Maria, which reminded many of the 1999 Champions League final, when Manchester United came from behind to beat Bayern late on.

"His goodbye was as ever -- with dignity, a real sportsman, a cosmopolitan, and a role model," SID added.

The broadsheet Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote: "Wherever Hitzfeld was, success joined him. Wherever he was, discipline ruled, even in turbulent times with players like [Stefan] Effenberg, [Oliver] Kahn, [Matthias] Sammer or [Andreas] Moller."

Ahead of the World Cup, Hitzfeld had said that "the last picture will remain," and Die Welt commented: "In the end, Hitzfeld's XI lost with a lot of bad luck against Messi & Co. For the last time, the 65-year-old had thought of a strategy to take one of the biggest stars out of the game for nearly 120 minutes.

"A coaching career, which started at SC Zug's Herti Allmend stadium in 1983, ended on the biggest World Cup stage in Sao Paulo. This last picture is nothing to sneeze at."

Hitzfeld not only was the "man in the trench coat," he was also "the gentleman coach" and "Der General." But in the latter stages of his career he was dubbed "Gottmar" -- a play on the German word for God -- by Swiss newspapers, and so the Swiss tabloid Blick ran the headline: "Thank you, GOTTmar Hitzfeld."

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