Ottmar Hitzfeld

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Ottmar Hitzfeld
Otmar hitzfeld in bulgaria.jpg
Hitzfeld with Switzerland in Bulgaria 2011
Personal information
Full name Ottmar Hitzfeld
Date of birth (1949-01-12) 12 January 1949 (age 70)
Place of birth Lörrach, West Germany
Height 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
Playing position Striker
Youth career
1960–1967 TuS Stetten
1967–1968 FV Lörrach
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1971–1975 Basel 92 (66)
1975–1978 VfB Stuttgart 80 (38)
1978–1980 Lugano 55 (35)
1980–1983 Luzern 72 (30)
Total 300 (169)
National team
1972 West Germany (Olympic) 6 (5)
Teams managed
1983–1984 Zug 94
1984–1988 Aarau
1988–1991 Grasshoppers
1991–1997 Borussia Dortmund
1998–2004 Bayern Munich
2007–2008 Bayern Munich
2008–2014 Switzerland

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

† Appearances (goals)

Ottmar Hitzfeld (German pronunciation: [ˈʔɔtmaːɐ̯ ˈhɪt͡sfɛlt]; born 12 January 1949 in Lörrach, Baden) is a German former football player (striker) and retired manager, nicknamed der General (“the general”), and “Gottmar Hitzfeld” (a pun on Gott, which is the German word for “god”).[1] He has accumulated a total of 18 major titles, mostly in his tenures with Grasshopper Club Zürich, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. A trained mathematician and sports teacher, Hitzfeld is one of the most successful coaches of German and international football. He has been elected “World Coach of the Year” twice; he is one of only five managers to win the European Cup/UEFA Champions League with two different clubs, along with Ernst Happel, José Mourinho, Jupp Heynckes and Carlo Ancelotti.

Playing career

Hitzfeld started playing football in the late 1960s with TuS Stetten and FV Lörrach in the lower German leagues before he captured the attention of Swiss first division team FC Basel.[2] He joined the club, located on the other bank of the Rhine, in 1971. With this club the forward won the Swiss championship in 1972 and 1973, in the latter season even contributing as the top striker in Switzerland. In 1975, he also won the cup with Basel.[3]

In 1973, while playing at Basel, he graduated from nearby Lörrach College as a teacher of mathematics and sports. He retained his amateur status to be able to participate in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. There, he played amongst others with Uli Hoeneß, the later Bayern Munich player and general manager who would hire him as coach in the late 1990s. One of the highlights of this tournament was the first encounter between the national sides of West and East Germany on the football pitch. West Germany lost this match 2–3, and thus failed to reach the semifinals. In this match, Hitzfeld scored one of his five goals in the tournament. In 1975, the 26-year-old Hitzfeld accepted an offer by the then German second division side VfB Stuttgart.[4] At the Swabian side, he was part of a legendary "100 goal offense" (the goal difference that season being 100:36) and in one match against SSV Jahn Regensburg he scored six goals, still the record for a 2. Bundesliga player.[5] After two years, in 1977, the team achieved promotion to the first division, the Bundesliga. Hitzfeld had by that time scored 33 goals in 55 league matches. In the Bundesliga, the club finished the season a remarkable fourth. Hitzfeld contributed five goals in 22 matches.[4] After three years with Stuttgart, Hitzfeld returned to what by then had become his second home, Switzerland. There, he played from 1978 to 1980 with FC Lugano before joining FC Luzern, where he finished his playing career in 1983, aged 34.

Managerial career

Early years

Hitzfeld got his first coaching position with FC Zug, where he stayed for a year. In 1984, he followed an offer to coach FC Aarau, where he settled for four years. His tenure there was crowned with his first title as coach, the 1985 Swiss Cup. Soon he attracted also the attention of the major Swiss club Grasshopper in Zürich. Between 1988 and 1991, he gained another four trophies there, starting with a repeat of his cup victory by the end of his first season.[6] The next year, he followed up with the double before finishing his engagement with the defence of the Swiss Championship in 1991.[7]

Borussia Dortmund

In 1991, Hitzfeld received an offer from Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, which had just finished the season tenth. In his first year, he and his assistant Michael Henke, with whom he would collaborate for the next 13 years, took the team to second spot in the league, securing a 1992–93 UEFA Cup place. The following season, Dortmund reached the finals of this competition, but both matches were lost against Juventus. In 1995, he gained his first Bundesliga title with Dortmund, their first trophy since the DFB-Pokal in 1989, and Hitzfeld’s first trophy in Germany. In 1995–96, he had a successful defence of the title, but the great triumph had to wait for another year: in 1997, Dortmund finished third in the league, but reached the UEFA Champions League final, where another encounter with Juventus was due. This time, Borussia prevailed 3–1 in Munich’s Olympiastadion against the team from northern Italy which featured Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamps, and Christian Vieri, amongst others. For his success, Hitzfeld was rewarded for the first time with the “World Coach of the Year” award,[1] but as frictions with the team had come to a head, he was promoted out of the firing line to the position of sports manager with the club, where he witnessed his successor, Nevio Scala, taking Borussia Dortmund to win the 1997 Intercontinental Cup against Cruzeiro from Brazil.

Bayern Munich

First spell

In 1998, Hitzfeld was hired by Germany's most successful club, FC Bayern Munich. In his first year, he led the club to renewed championship glories, winning the league title by a record margin. However, the club lost the DFB-Pokal final to Werder Bremen on penalties. Most important was their run to the Champions League final. The final is remembered for the dramatic Manchester United comeback inside the injury time period. Trailing 1–0, United scored two goals in stoppage time, condemning Bayern to a stunning defeat.

In the next season, domestic success was improved upon with Bayern winning the double. After winning by a record margin last season, Bayern won on a heartbeat finish this season. Hitzfeld's team depended on the neighbours from Unterhaching, a suburb of Munich, to beat Bayer Leverkusen on the last day play to secure the title. The DFB-Pokal final was won against Bremen, the team which beat Bayern in the previous final. In the Champions League, Bayern was stopped in the semifinal by eventual winners Real Madrid. In 2000–01, Hitzfeld led Bayern not only to the league championship hat-trick, but once again into the Champions League final, defeating Manchester United and defending champions Real Madrid en route. This time, the side from Munich prevailed, though it took a penalty shoot-out against Valencia. This made Hitzfeld only the second coach after Ernst Happel to win the major European trophy with two different teams. Again, he was recognized with the honour of "World Coach of the Year",[7] but this time he remained in control over his team in the ensuing 2001 Intercontinental Cup final against Boca Juniors from Argentina. A sole goal by Ghanaian defender Samuel Kuffour in extra-time made it an evening to celebrate for "the General" and his team. By then, the team had a tendency to put in lacklustre performances and in the end had to make do with third place in the league.

In the 2002–03 season, Bayern once more dominated German football, claiming the league title[8] four matches before the end of the Bundesliga season.[9] With a 3–1 win over Kaiserslautern Hitzfeld's team secured another double. When this was followed by a season of less impressive football, yielding no title, the club renounced the remaining year of the contract of the 55-year-old coach.[10]

Second spell

Hitzfeld had an offer to take over the reins of the German national team, but preferred to take a break from the game.[11] On 1 February 2007, following the sacking of Felix Magath, he returned to Bayern Munich. Hopes that he might lead Bayern to another championship,[12] despite trailing by eight points with 15 games remaining, were not fulfilled, though. Eventually, Bayern finished fourth, thereby failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in more than a decade. A multimillion spending spree before the new season helped Hitzfeld to lead the club to a new phase of domestic dominance, winning the DFB-Ligapokal, the DFB-Pokal, and the league championship. After several high wins and lots of draws, Bayern's 2007–08 UEFA Cup campaign ended in the semifinal with a humbling 4–0 defeat by eventual winner Zenit St. Petersburg. During the season, Hitzfeld had announced that he would not be available for another season at the helm and Jürgen Klinsmann became his successor at Bayern.

Record at Bayern Munich

As of 18 January 2014
Competitions[13] From[13] To[13] Record[13]
G W D L Win %
Bundesliga 1 July 1998 30 June 2004 204 128 41 35 62.75
DFB-Pokal 28 20 6 2 71.43
DFB-Ligapokal 9 6 2 1 66.67
UEFA Champions League 76 38 24 14 50.00
UEFA Super Cup 1 0 0 1 00.00
Intercontinental Cup 1 1 0 0 100.000
Total 319 193 73 53 60.50
Bundesliga 1 February 2007 30 June 2008 49 30 12 7 61.22
DFB-Pokal 6 5 1 0 83.33
DFB-Ligapokal 3 3 0 0 100.000
UEFA Champions League 4 1 1 2 25.00
UEFA Cup 14 6 6 2 42.86
Total 76 45 20 11 59.21
Combined total 395 238 93 64 60.25


Hitzfeld took over as coach of the Swiss national team in summer 2008. Switzerland finished top of its qualifying group to reach the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Although Switzerland won their opening match 1–0 against eventual champions Spain, they went on to lose 1–0 against Chile and get a 0–0 draw against Honduras which eliminated their chances of qualifying from Group H.

Switzerland failed to qualify for UEFA Euro 2012, finishing third behind England and Montenegro in their qualifying group.

Hitzfeld led Switzerland to a second successive World Cup as his team remained unbeaten throughout the 2014 qualifying campaign.


He announced his retirement from coaching after the World Cup with Vladimir Petković taking over on July 1, 2014.[14]

It was said that Chinese Super League club Guangzhou Evergrande once offered Hitzfeld an 18–month-long, with a value of 24 million euro contract. However, he turned it down.[15]

Personal life

Hitzfeld was born in Lörrach in the valley of the Wiese in southwest Germany, close to the Swiss border. He grew up there and is the youngest of five children. Hitzfeld said[16] that when he first left Bayern in 2004 he 'felt burnt out' and 'was a bit depressed', and 'it took me two years to recover.' He then had 'the best years at Bayern' on his return. He stated his views that people should not get too excited about things, not get too down about things, and treat each situation individually. His uncle was the World War II general Otto Hitzfeld.

Coaching record

As of 1 July 2014
Team From To Record
G W D L Win % Ref.
Zug 1983 1984 32 17 9 6 53.13
Aarau 1984 1988 142 65 37 40 45.77
Grasshopper Club 1988 1991 137 68 36 33 49.64
Borussia Dortmund 1 July 1991[17] 30 June 1997[17] 272 144 63 65 52.94 [17]
Bayern Munich 1 July 1998[13] 30 June 2004[10] 319 193 73 53 60.50 [13]
Bayern Munich 1 February 2007[13] 30 June 2008[13] 76 45 20 11 59.21 [13]
Switzerland 1 July 2008 1 July 2014 61 30 18 13 49.18
Total 1,039 562 256 221 54.09


As player

FC Basel

As manager

FC Aarau
Borussia Dortmund
Bayern Munich

Individual honours

As player

As manager


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Ottmar Hitzfeld, General a.D." (in German). 17 May 2008. Retrieved 17 August 2008. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Ottmar Hitzfeld". July 2008. Retrieved 17 August 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "1973/74 bis 1982/83" (in German). FC Basel Official website. Retrieved 17 August 2008. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Ottmar Hitzfeld" (in German). 2008. Retrieved 17 August 2008. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "2. Bundesliga » Statistik » Die meisten Tore eines Spielers pro Spiel". Retrieved 21 September 2012. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Nationale Erfolge" (in German). Grasshopper Club Zürich Official website. 2008. Retrieved 17 August 2008. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Ottmar Hitzfeld". WorldSoccer. 2 September 2003. Retrieved 17 August 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Kuffour staubt mit dem Knie ab" (in German). kicker. 2 May 2003. Retrieved 30 November 2014. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Bayern München". (in German). kicker. Retrieved 30 November 2014. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Hitzfeld to leave Bayern". BBC Sports. 18 May 2004. Retrieved 18 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Ottmar Hitzfeld turns down offer to become Germany coach". German News. 1 July 2004. Retrieved 17 August 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Hitzfeld return restores dreams of glory". 1 February 2007. Retrieved 18 August 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 13.8 "Bayern München" (in German). kicker. Retrieved 18 January 2014. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Wöckener, Lutz (4 July 2015). "Ottmar Hitzfeld verzichtet auf 24 Millionen Euro" (in German). Die Welt. Retrieved 4 July 2015. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Interviews on TV programme "Football's Greatest Managers", Sky TV, UK, May 2012. Similar comments in German; Domjahn, Thomas (29 November 2011). ""Burn-out-Syndrom" und Depressionen: Ottmar Hitzfeld redet Klartext" (in German). Retrieved 21 September 2012. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 "Borussia Dortmund" (in German). kicker. Retrieved 18 January 2014. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Fans name greatest Reds of all time". The official FC Bayern Munich Website. 1 June 2005. Retrieved 24 November 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Grosse Ehre für Ottmar Hitzfeld" (in German). 24 June 2009. Retrieved 26 June 2009. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Marcello Lippi
UEFA Champions League Winning Coach
Succeeded by
Jupp Heynckes
Preceded by
Vicente del Bosque
UEFA Champions League Winning Coach
Succeeded by
Vicente del Bosque