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Heynckes: Past, present, future

After Jupp Heynckes announced his decision to take a break from football, we examine the Bayern Munich coach's past, present and future.

Past

Josef "Jupp" Heynckes started his Bundesliga career nearly 48 years ago in a Bundesliga game between Borussia Neunkirchen and Borussia Monchengladbach. From 1965 to 1978, he made a total of 369 Bundesliga appearances, scoring 220 goals, trailing only legendary Bayern forward Gerd Muller (365 goals) and Schalke star Klaus Fischer (268 goals) in the all-time Bundesliga scorer list.

He won four German championships, one DFB-Pokal and the UEFA Cup with Monchengladbach, and also lifted both the World Cup and the European Championship with West Germany during the 1970s. In his last game as a player, he put five past Borussia Dortmund as Monchengladbach won 12-0, which remains a Bundesliga record.

"That was one of the most significant games of my career," he recalled in an interview in more recent years. "Five goals in my last match as a pro. I had been struggling with knee problems that occurred after an infection, carried on for over a year and scored 18 goals in my last year in football. I then became Udo Lattek's assistant."

In 1979, he became the youngest ever Bundesliga coach when he took over from Lattek at his hometown club, Monchengladbach, at the age of 34. He stayed at Gladbach until 1987, when he succeeded Lattek once again, this time at Bayern. He won his first German championship in 1989 and defended the title a year later. After one season without a title in 1990-91 and four games without a win at the beginning of the 1991-92 season, he was fired by Bayern. "My biggest mistake," the club's president, Uli Hoeness, acknowledges.

Heynckes then left his homeland and became only the third German coach to take charge of a La Liga side, joining Athletic Bilbao, where he secured UEFA Cup qualification in his second year. He then returned to Germany for an ill-fated stint at Eintracht Frankfurt and then returned to La Liga with CD Tenerife.

In 1998, he joined Real Madrid. Despite winning the Champions League, he was sacked after finishing 11 points behind Barcelona in the table. "If we did not win the European Cup, this would have been one of the worst seasons in recent years," Real president Lorenzo Sanz said.

Heynckes then spent a year with Benfica, took a break, again joined Athletic Bilbao for two years and, in 2003, returned to the Bundesliga with Schalke. His homecoming did not last long, with Heynckes sacked just three games into the 2004-05 season. "Jupp is an old-school coach and wanted to carry on doing his thing," Schalke general manager Rudi Assauer said, "but this is 2004."

Heynckes, after a spell suffering health problems, returned to Borussia Monchengladbach for one final stint in 2006, and it appeared his coaching career had come to an end when he stepped down at the end of January 2007.

When he made a return to the dugout to save Bayern's 2008-09 campaign, Heynckes was again branded a man of the past. Before he had even started a job that was to last only five games, the German media questioned whether he could handle it. "He has been allowed to do the job for five games," one paper commented. "Then another coach will follow him and Heynckes will leave the club without noise."

He left the club without t noise, but followed that stint with two successful years at Leverkusen, offering proof enough that he was no longer a man of the past. Bayern were sufficiently convinced to offer him a permanent role in 2011 and, after finishing runners-up in all competitions in his debut campaign, he then became the first German coach to win the treble.

Present

Borussia Dortmund branded their Champions League campaign a "#fairytale" on Twitter, but their dream of winning Europe's biggest club competition ended at Wembley on May 25 as Arjen Robben's late goal secured the trophy for Bayern.

Despite Bayern's excellent first half of the season and Dortmund's good run in Champions League, an all-German final was not to be expected in mid-January. Quite a few had backed Bayern to go all the way to Wembley, but when the Pep Guardiola appointment was announced in January, there were suggestions that Heynckes could end up a lame duck and Bayern could have suffered. Having laid the foundation for future success through hard work during the summer of 2012, though, the collapse never came.

During his press conference on Tuesday, Heynckes talked about how, straight after the defeat against Chelsea in the 2012 final, he started working on the new Bayern team. He revealed that during the summer training camp, with most of the national team players still on holiday, Robben had led the direction for the upcoming season. "I was surprised by the way Robben took care of our young players," he explained. "I came to realise that an extraordinary process had begun."

Bayern president Hoeness spoke highly of Heynckes' achievements during a season in which the club smashed an array of Bundesliga records. "He turned 25 players into friends," Hoeness said, and that is no mean feat for a club frequently derided as "FC Hollywood".

Heynckes did not reference the Dortmund #fairytale, but in 2012-13 he wrote his very own as he created a ruthless machine by providing the protection and support his players needed.

Of course, it had to be Mario Gomez, the striker perceived to be no longer suited to Bayern's new style of football, who scored the final two goals of Heynckes' third and final Bayern reign.

Future

What next for Jupp Heynckes? "The first thing I'm going to do is go on holiday," the 68-year-old said on Tuesday. "I won't be taking up any engagement after July 1, either here in Germany or abroad. I'm going to withdraw, recover, and become a private individual. The coaching job at FC Bayern costs a huge amount in terms of resolve, power and energy."

The decision to walk away had already been made in the summer of 2012. However, he did not rule out a return to football altogether. "I have something personal against finality," he said.

For now, it is time for his family and for Bruce Springsteen. The US musician played at Munich's Olympiastadion on May 26, only one day after Bayern's Wembley triumph. With Springsteen playing in Monchengladbach on July 5, Heynckes will still have the chance to see a show during the 2013 European leg of Springsteen's world tour. "There is a life after your working life," Heynckes added. "I want to enjoy mine now."

Yet, while he has rejected offers from various clubs, Heynckes will find it difficult to recede into the background for the rest of his days. Whenever a prominent position is vacated over the coming months, his name will doubtless be touted as a solution. Throughout his career, Heynckes has been a regular source of surprises.

After Tuesday's press conference, there was a suggestion in several newspapers that Heynckes' refusal to confirm the finality of his retirement had a particular motivation. Bayern, when appointing Guardiola in January, had announced Heynckes' retirement on his behalf; the treble-winner's indication of continued availability, then, could offer a chance to redress that grievance. "Just as Guardiola hovered over Heynckes during the past few months," Die Welt said, "Heynckes now hovers over Guardiola."

Yet a man of Heynckes' class does not seem the type to stand in Guardiola's way. A more feasible option could be the German national team after next year's World Cup. Heynckes has not coached at international level, and there may well be a vacancy, as Joachim Low will have spent ten years working for the German FA by the time next summer's tournament is over. Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff has strongly hinted at a 2014 exit, and Heynckes could then lead the side into a new era, whatever the outcome in Brazil may be.

A changing of the guard looks likely after the World Cup. Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski and Mario Gomez will have entered their 30s by the time of the 2018 World Cup, while Miroslav Klose is to retire from international football after Brazil. The challenge will be to establish a new core in time for Russia 2018.

Heynckes might be the best answer to the longer-term challenges Germany face. The treble success at Bayern has turned a man once derided into one of the country's coaching legends and, though he will be 69 by the time of the 2014 World Cup, he should have enough power left in him for four years in charge of the national team.

"FC Bayern does not play like Barcelona. FC Bayern plays more modern, contemporary and successful football," Heynckes said before leaving the stage on Tuesday. "I will leave a world-class team behind, maybe the best in the world. I am proud of that."

He did not once use the word 'retirement'. That will not only make Pep Guardiola nervous, if things don't turn out as expected, but could also represent a chance for Germany to successfully navigate the next step, guided by man who promises success in the past, the present and the future.

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