Home » Managerial Legends » Portrait of an iconic manager – Ottmar Hitzfeld

Portrait of an iconic manager – Ottmar Hitzfeld

Ottmar Hitzfeld is regarded as one of the greatest managers in the history of Bayern Munich as well as the greatest to have graced the German football. And rightly so.

The German began his playing career with Swiss outfit FC Basel in 1971 and went on to feature in 92 league games for the club, scoring 66 goals as a striker. His contributions came in handy as Basel won successive league titles in 1972 and 1973. He also collected the Swiss Cup in his final year at the club in 1975 before moving to VfB Stuttgart that summer. A three-year stint with Stuttgart was followed by spells at Lugano and Luzern before Hitzfeld hanged his playing boots in 1983.

He also represented the West Germany national team at the 1972 Munich Olympics and contributed five goals in his six matches for the team as they reached the semi-final of the competition. However, he wouldn’t earn any more caps for his national team.

Soon after his playing career, Hitzfeld soon plunged into football management as he took charge of Zug 94 of the Swiss league. After a year-long stint at the club, he went to manage Aarau in 1984 and won a Swiss Cup during the course of his four-year reign at the club, before making a move to one of the giants of Swiss football: Grasshopper.

Hitzfeld achieved great success with Grasshopper, winning three Swiss Cups as well as two league titles with them. His success with the Zurich-based outfit saw Borussia Dortmund ask for his services and the upcoming manager landed at the Westfalenstadion in the summer of 1991.

The Black and Yellows were in mid-table obscurity when Hitzfeld took charge and took them to second in his first season at the club. In 1995, he guided them to the Bundesliga title – Dortmund’s first trophy in six years, also Hitzfeld’s first in his home country. He successfully defended the trophy the following year, but an even greater victory was to come in 1997.

Hitzfeld’s men faced Juventus in the final of the Champions League in 1997, where his team prevailed 3–1 in Munich’s Olympiastadion.

In 1998, he took charge of Bayern Munich and brought great success to the Bavarian giants during his six years at the club. He won four league titles as well as two DFB Pokals during his reign, but most significantly, he won the German outfit their first European Cup in close to 40 years in 2001. The fact that the win had come after just two years following that fateful defeat at the hands of Manchester United in the 1999 final made it all the more sweeter.

Hitzfeld would take charge of Bayern Munich for another season in 2007 and it was enough for him to win the club another domestic double.

His last managerial appointment was with the Switzerland national team and he guided the side to the 2010 as well as the 2014 World Cup finals before retiring from management.

Hitzfeld remains one of the greatest football managers of the modern era.


FC Aarau, Swiss Cup: 1985

Grasshopper, Swiss Super League: 1989–90, 1990–91, Swiss Cup: 1989, 1990, Swiss Super Cup: 1989

Borussia Dortmund, Bundesliga: 1994–95, 1995–96, DFB-Supercup: 1995, 1996, UEFA Champions League: 1996–97

Bayern Munich, Bundesliga: 1998–99, 1999–00, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2007–08, DFB-Pokal: 1999–00, 2002–03, 2007–08, DFB Ligapokal: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2007, UEFA Champions League: 2000–01; Intercontinental Cup: 2001

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