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Hitzfeld rejected United over language fears

Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has revealed that he rejected the opportunity to become Manchester United manager when the club were seeking a successor for Sir Alex Ferguson, following the Scot's announcement that he intended to retire at the end of the 2001-02 season.

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Hitzfeld won the Champions League with Borussia Dortmund in 1997 and Bayern Munich in 2001 - beating United on the way to lifting the trophy on both occasions - though Ferguson did get the better of the German in the 1999 final.

And after Ferguson announced that he planned to retire at the end of the 2001-02 season, United approached Hitzfeld about taking over the Old Trafford hotseat.

Ferguson eventually went back on his decision, but not before Hitzfeld had told United that he was unwilling to take the job because he didn't feel he would be able to communicate effectively in English.

"I don't want to go into too many details because it was between myself and Manchester United, but I decided to stay in Germany because, when I am coaching I prefer to express myself in German because this is my mother tongue," Hitzfeld told the Telegraph.

"I didn't think I would be able to do myself justice if I had to speak to the players in English. I would not be able to get my emotions and feelings across.

"The players in the Swiss dressing room speak a variety of languages, including Italian, French and English, but when they come to work I coach them in German.

"All the players understand it. If there are some special expressions required then one of my coaches might use a bit of Italian or French, but I coach them only in German and it is better that way."


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