Otto Rehhagel

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Otto Rehhagel
Otto Rehhagel1.JPG
Rehhagel coaching Greece in 2009.
Personal information
Full name Otto Rehhagel
Date of birth (1938-08-09) 9 August 1938 (age 83)
Place of birth Essen, Germany
Height 1.77 m (5 ft 9 12 in)
Playing position Defender
Youth career
1948–1957 TuS Helene Altenessen
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1957–1960 TuS Helene Altenessen
1960–1963 Rot-Weiss Essen 90 (3)
1963–1965 Hertha BSC 53 (6)
1965–1972 1. FC Kaiserslautern 148 (17)
National team
1960 West Germany Amateur 2 (0)
Teams managed
1972 FV Rockenhausen
1972–1973 1. FC Saarbrücken
1973–1974 Kickers Offenbach (Assistant coach)
1974–1975 Kickers Offenbach
1976 Werder Bremen
1976–1978 Borussia Dortmund
1978–1979 Arminia Bielefeld
1979–1980 Fortuna Düsseldorf
1981–1995 Werder Bremen
1995–1996 Bayern Munich
1996–2000 1. FC Kaiserslautern
2001–2010 Greece
2012 Hertha BSC

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Otto Rehhagel (German: [ʁeːˈhaːɡəl]; born 9 August 1938 in Essen) is a German football coach and former football player. Along with Helmut Schön, Ottmar Hitzfeld, Udo Lattek and Hennes Weisweiler, he is considered one of the most successful German managers.

Rehhagel is the only one of two persons, the other one being Jupp Heynckes, who, as player and as manager combined, has participated in over 1000 Bundesliga matches. In the Bundesliga, he holds the records for the most victories (387), most draws (205), most losses (228), and his teams have scored the most goals (1473) and conceded more (1142) than any other.

Internationally, Rehhagel coached the Greece national team from 2001 to 2010 in what has been the nation's most successful footballing era – during that period, the Greek team won the 2004 European Championship and qualified for the 2010 World Cup, their second ever World Cup finals participation.

Playing career

Rehhagel began his playing career with local club TuS Helene Altenessen in 1948 before moving to Rot-Weiss Essen (1960–63), after the start of the Bundesliga for Hertha BSC (1963–65), and until 1972 for Kaiserslautern. He played 201 games in the Bundesliga. As a player, Rehhagel was known as a tough-as-nails defender.

Managerial career

Early years

In 1974, he took charge of Kickers Offenbach, but failed to make an immediate impact as a manager. Most famously, while in charge of Borussia Dortmund in 1978, he suffered a historic, record-setting 12–0 loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach, after which the tabloids called him Otto Torhagel ("Tor" means goal in German, and "Hagel" means a hailstorm). In 1980, Rehhagel won his first trophy as a manager, when his Fortuna Düsseldorf side won the German Cup.

Werder Bremen

Rehhagel managed Werder Bremen from 1981 to 1995. During these 14 golden years for the club, Rehhagel transformed Werder from a small minnow into a powerhouse, dazzling spectators with powerful up-tempo play and a smothering defence. During this spell, Werder Bremen established themselves as one of the main teams in the Bundesliga, overtaking hated rivals Hamburg as the top club in the north and sparking an intense feud with Bayern Munich. In the mid-eighties, Rehhagel often fell just short of success and had a string of second places and Cup Final losses. In that time, his nickname was Otto II or Vizeadmiral ("Vice Admiral"). After this unfortunate period, Rehhagel led Werder Bremen to two German championships in 1988 and 1993, two DFB-Pokal victories in 1991 and 1994, as well as winning the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1992. In this period, Rehhagel produced a host of international stars, such as Rudi Völler, Karlheinz Riedle, Dieter Eilts, Marco Bode, Mario Basler, Hany Ramzy, Andreas Herzog and Rune Bratseth. Rehhagel's Werder Bremen team of 1987–88 was until recently the squad which conceded the fewest goals ever in the Bundesliga (22), this record was surpassed by Bayern Munich in the 2007–08 season with 21 goals. His stint with Werder Bremen (14 years Bundesliga) is the second longest consecutive occupation as a manager ever in the Bundesliga. It was only recently surpassed by Volker Finke of Freiburg (16 years)

Bayern Munich

After 14 golden years at Werder Bremen, Rehhagel left to manage former hated rivals, Bayern Munich, before the start of the 1995–96 season. Prior to Rehhagel's arrival, Bayern had a disappointing, but financially lucrative season in 1994–95 (a very poor sixth place in the Bundesliga, but semi-finals in the Champions League). In the summer of 1995, Bayern spent a lot of money, buying Jürgen Klinsmann, Andreas Herzog, and others, and Rehhagel was brought in as manager to replace Giovanni Trapattoni. It was widely expected that Munich would steamroll the opposition in 1995–96, but from Day 1, Rehhagel clashed with the team and the team environment. His single-minded and occasionally eccentric ways did not mesh at all with Bayern, who quickly felt that Rehhagel was too rural at heart and had no clue about how to interact in the fancy environment of Munich. Moreover, Rehhagel's old-school tactics and patronising of the Bayern players caused major antipathy in the Bayern team, especially from Klinsmann, who never missed an opportunity to take shots at Rehhagel. Despite Rehhagel getting Bayern to the UEFA Cup final, Bayern's results in the Bundesliga dropped alarmingly in the second half of the season, and Rehhagel was famously sacked just 4 days before they were to due to play in the first leg of the 1996 UEFA Cup final. Rehhagel's job was taken over by Franz Beckenbauer, who led the team to victory in the 1996 UEFA Cup final, and oversaw an upturn in form in the last couple of weeks in the Bundesliga, but Bayern finished second, as Borussia Dortmund won their second German championship in a row.

1. FC Kaiserslautern

After being sacked by Bayern Munich, Rehhagel took over as manager of Kaiserslautern in 1996, after a season where the club had won the DFB-Pokal but had also been relegated from the top-flight following a catastrophic season in the Bundesliga. Rehhagel injected new energy into the team, which saw Kaiserslautern comfortably getting back into the top-flight in 1997, winning the second division by 10 points. Prior to the start of the 1997–98 season, Kaiserslautern were seen as dark horses for a place in the UEFA Cup, but Rehhagel's team simply steamrollered the Bundesliga opposition all season. With sparkling offence and sheer never-ending energy (half a dozen games were won in injury time), Kaiserslautern won a sensational German championship in 1998, the first and so far only German championship triumph by a team that had just been promoted the previous season. Rehhagel coached Kaiserslautern to some less spectacular, but very decent results over the next year, such as leading the team to the quarter finals of the 1998–99 UEFA Champions League, but then big internal conflicts within the club, rows with some players, and a massive smear campaign, caused him to resign his position in 2000.

Greece national team

In August 2001, following Vassilis Daniil's departure, Rehhagel was appointed as the new manager of the Greece national team,[1] ahead of other candidates, such as Marco Tardelli, Nevio Scala, Javier Clemente, and Terry Venables, who were also been considered for the managerial post.[2] Rehhagel's first match in charge was in October 2001, a 2002 World Cup qualifier against Finland, which ended in a 5–1 away defeat.[2][3] As a result, he rebuilt the squad, and in October 2003, after a 1–0 win over Northern Ireland,[4] Greece qualified automatically for Euro 2004, ahead of Spain and Ukraine. Ranked 100–1 outsiders,[5] they nevertheless defeated host nation Portugal,[6] holders France and the much more fancied Czech Republic on the way to the final, where they again defeated Portugal 1–0. Rehhagel, who was seen as the man most responsible for the team's success, became the first foreign manager ever to win a European Championship. Despite not having a star-studded line-up, the Greek team won the championship, conceding no goals in the knockout stage.

Otto Rehhagel giving instructions to players of the Greece national football team before the changes.

Rehhagel adopted a defensive approach in playing his Greek side, using energetic midfielders to wear down the opponents and the policy of defending in numbers to numb the opposition's attacks. When charged with boring play, he said, "No one should forget that a coach adapts the tactics to the characteristics of the available players." Interestingly, his time at Werder Bremen is remembered for the flashy and spectacular attacking football the team favoured.

After Rudi Völler resigned as Germany coach in the wake of that country's first-round exit in Euro 2004, Rehhagel was considered by many to be a strong candidate for his homeland's job. He had the support of the public, despite being considered a maverick by the footballing establishment. After three other candidates removed themselves from consideration, Rehhagel received an offer to take over as Germany coach, which he officially turned down on 10 July.

In their qualifying group for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the Greek side failed to make the grade, finishing fourth in a tough group which saw Ukraine advance as group winner and Turkey go on to the play-off. The team returned to success though by qualifying for Euro 2008, ending the qualifying stage with the highest points total of any team and ensuring they would be able to defend their title. On 30 March 2008, Rehhagel extended his contract with Greece until 2010.[7] The Euro 2008 ended in disappointment after three group stage losses against Sweden, Russia, and eventual winners Spain.

For the qualifying group and having finished second in group Two behind Switzerland, coach Rehhagel and the national team met Ukraine in a two-legged play-off and won 1–0 in Donetsk after a 0–0 draw in Piraeus, with Dimitris Salpingidis getting the winner. The success against Ukraine allowed the Greek squad to compete in the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa and solidified the position of Otto Rehhagel as one of the most important people in the history of Greek sport. Greece lost to South Korea, Argentina, defeated Nigeria 2–1 and exited the FIFA World Cup after the first round, with Dimitris Salpingidis scoring the first Greek goal ever in World cups against Nigeria. Rehhagel announced his wish to leave his coaching position after the World Cup. On 23 June 2010, he announced his resignation from Greece.[8][9]

Hertha BSC

Rehhagel during his stint as Hertha Berlin manager

Two years after leaving the Greek national team, Rehhagel came out of retirement to sign for ailing Bundesliga club Hertha BSC for whom he had his Bundesliga debut as a player.[10][11] His attempt to save Hertha from relegation however ended in a failure, after the Berliners were defeated by 2. Bundesliga club Fortuna Düsseldorf in a two-legged playoff.

Coaching style

Rehhagel has popularized the phrase kontrollierte Offensive (controlled offence). He prefers a grass-roots approach to football, stressing the importance of at least two (often also three) big, strong headers in central defence. His defensive schemes often use a dominant libero, such as Miroslav Kadlec, Rune Bratseth or Traianos Dellas. In defence Rehhagel usually prefers robustness and height over footballing abilities (the most notorious example being Ulrich Borowka). In the period of all-round, fluid defence, many have criticized this as dated and anachronistic, but Rehhagel loves to reply that his success makes him right.

Rehhagel's teams also regularly develop a lot of pressure on the wings, e.g. Mario Basler/Marco Bode (Bremen) or Andreas Buck/Marco Reich (FCK), who were dominant wingers when Rehhagel coached them. His teams also regularly employ at least one dominant header as the central striker (Karlheinz Riedle, Rudi Völler, Frank Neubarth, Olaf Marschall, Angelos Charisteas). The wing play and the header-strong striker obviously complement each other.

The backbone of his teams are usually older, more experienced players, talents rarely find themselves taking responsibility. Under him, even the young Michael Ballack often sat on the bench as a substitute. However, Rehhagel is also known for being an excellent talent scout, having discovered Völler, Riedle, Marco Bode, Dieter Eilts, Marco Reich, Miroslav Klose, Angelos Charisteas, Sotiris Kyrgiakos, Theofanis Gekas and many others.

Rehhagel is also known for being a good motivator. His teams regularly have a lot of team spirit, most famously the Greek national squad, which he turned from a dead-end squad nobody wanted to play for into a must-be-there-at-all-costs team. He is also famous for reigniting the careers of older, seemingly dead-end players, such as Manfred Burgsmüller, Mirko Votava, Olaf Marschall or Theodoros Zagorakis.

Rehhagel is also a deft and ruthless club politician. He is notorious for restructuring clubs so that he wields absolute power, making friends with powerful people and using them to eliminate the opposition. He prefers the system of a benign dictatorship. His way of handling a club – in a competent and innovative, but also highly patronizing and condescending way – has been immortalized as ottocracy, a pun on his name alluding to the style of management/government; autocracy.

Finally, Rehhagel is considered somewhat of a maverick in Germany. In decades of interviews, he has established a reputation for being arrogant, eccentric and unwilling to admit mistakes, similar to e.g. José Mourinho and Brian Clough. However, seeing his impressive record, he is apparently able to back up his words.

Famous players associated with Rehhagel include Klaus Allofs, Mario Basler, Marco Bode, Rune Bratseth, Manfred Burgsmüller, Theofanis Gekas, Angelos Charisteas, Traianos Dellas, Dieter Eilts, Andreas Herzog, Marian Hristov, Miroslav Klose, Olaf Marschall, Hany Ramzy, Karl-Heinz Riedle, Wynton Rufer, Thomas Schaaf, Ciriaco Sforza, Rudi Völler, Theodoros Zagorakis, Andreas Brehme and Michael Ballack.

Personal life

He is married to Beate Rehhagel. Beate is also remarkable in her own light, because she acts as a sort of player scout for her husband. They have one child, Jens Rehhagel, who has played football at semi-professional level.

Rehhagel likes to call himself Kind der Bundesliga ("Child of the Bundesliga"), having played in the very first Bundesliga game, and spent his club career there, with nine teams. In Greece, he is occasionally called King Otto (βασιλιάς Όθων), probably in allusion to King Otto of Greece from Bavaria, however he already had this nickname during his coaching career in Germany. As a pun referring to Herakles, son of Zeus, he has been nicknamed "Rehakles" as well.

Career statistics

As of 15 May 2012
Team From To Record
G W D L Win % Ref.
1. FC Saarbrücken 1 July 1972 30 June 1973 30 7 10 13 23.33
Kickers Offenbach 2 April 1974 9 December 1975 60 23 10 27 38.33
Werder Bremen 29 February 1976[12] 30 June 1976[12] 13 4 5 4 30.77 [12]
Borussia Dortmund 1 July 1976[13] 30 April 1978[13] 74 29 16 29 39.19 [13]
Arminia Bielefeld 10 October 1978 11 October 1979 37 15 9 13 40.54
Fortuna Düsseldorf 12 October 1979 5 December 1980 53 26 9 18 49.06
Werder Bremen 2 April 1981[12] 30 June 1995[12] 609 322 156 131 52.87 [12]
Bayern Munich 1 July 1995[14] 27 April 1996[14] 42 27 5 10 64.29 [14]
1. FC Kaiserslautern 20 July 1996 1 October 2000 174 87 38 49 50.00
Greece 9 August 2001 30 June 2010 106 52 22 32 49.06
Hertha BSC 19 February 2012 30 June 2012[15] 14 3 3 8 21.43 [16]
Total 1,225 606 278 341 49.47


Fortuna Düsseldorf
Werder Bremen
1. FC Kaiserslautern


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  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 "Borussia Dortmund" (in German). kicker. Retrieved 16 January 2014.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  15. Bremer, Uwe (17 May 2012). "Hertha setzt jetzt auf den "kleinen Diktator" Luhukay". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 17 May 2012.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Hertha BSC" (in German). kicker. Retrieved 16 January 2014.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Roger Lemerre
UEFA European Championship Winning Coach
Succeeded by
Luis Aragonés