In this article, we are going to talk about the top 10 most successful German managers of all time. The great minds of German football managed to amaze the fans around the world with their unique ideas and write their name in the history of football as the winner ones.
With winning four World Cups and three European Championships, Germany is one of the most successful countries in the world of football. Aside from legendary football players such as Gerd Muller, Lothar Matthaus, Rudi Voeller, and many others, Germany has also blessed the world of football with so many great tacticians and masterminds. If you want to know about the best German managers of all time, this is the place for you.
German soil has been the home of many great football clubs such as Bayern Munchen and Borussia Dortmund. They have one of the most entertaining football leagues in the world and thanks to their well-organized football academies, German coaches has always had the perfect opportunity to develop their talents and skill. So, without any further ado, let us get down to the business and see who are the
greatest German coaches
of all time.
German football is known for its highly-efficient tactics that help them to dominate the game against every opponent; no matter who they are facing. The German teams are like a well-organized machine that just does the exact job that they were designed to. So, it is fair to say that the greatest German coaches were actually a kind of engineer who engineered their squads to fight on the green pitch until the very last second of the game. Now, before we get into the details and have a career review of the best German managers of all time, let’s take a quick look at
the 10 best German managers of all time
shortlist that we created:
A man who paid too much attention to the details that was nicknamed the Football Professor. Dettmar Cramer didn’t have a professional career as a football player. Actually, he was a sport journalist in German media but then he felt that he needs to be closer to the pitch. So, he quitted his job and years later, he became one of the greatest German coaches ever. Although he had an amazing two-year spell at Bayern Munich and won two back-to-back European Cups at 1975 and 1976, Dettmar Cramer will be remembered for what he did in Japanese football. As a coach, Cramer spent most of his career outside of Europe and mainly in Eastern Asia. His career started in 1960, when Japan decided to use some foreign help prior to the Tokyo Olympic Games.
To be exact, Cramer was not a head coach back then inJapan
, his role was the technical advisor of the Japan national football team which was going to play in Olympics. Due to his efforts, Japan had an extraordinary run at Olympics and managed to beat Argentina and knock them out from group stage. Four years later, the team that Cramer built went on to win a bronze medal in Mexico City Olympics in 1968. Cramer also had a huge role on building a coaching infrastructure in Japanese football which helped the country to develop coaches and players since then. Cramer’s great legacy at Japan surely earned him a place in our greatest German coaches ever list.
After spending most of his playing career for FC Kaiserslautern as a defender, Otto Rehhagel hanged up his boots in 1972 and immediately started his coaching career by coaching the lower division teams in German football. After gathering experience for a few years in various German clubs, Rehhagel started a long spell atWerder Bremen
in 1981 which lasted for 14 years. During this long period, Rehhagel transformed the club from a mid-table side to one of the title contenders in the Bundesliga. Werder Bremen under Rehhagel had one of the best defenses throughout Europe and conceding only 22 goals in the 1987-88 season is a proof of that.
That was the same season that they won the Bundesliga title for the second time in club’s history. Another league title in 1993 and two DFB-Pokal titles, three DFB-Supercop titles and one UEFA Cup Winners Cup in 1992 was the legacy of Otto Rehhagel at Werder Bremen. Rehhagel faced a failure during his time at Bayern Munich but in the 1997-98 season he had a spectacular run with FC Kaiserslautern. After gaining a promotion to Bundesliga with winning the 2. Bundesliga title in the previous season, Rehhagel led his club to a Bundesliga championship which was beyond a dream.
It seemed that Otto Rehhagel was an expert in winning titles with the underdogs and he proved that with Greece national team in EURO 2004. After putting on a perfect defensive performance and knocking out France and Czech, Greece beat the hosts, Portugal, in the final match and crowned as the European Champions for the first time ever. Even if you ignore his extraordinary achievements at Werder Bremen and Kaiserslautern, Otto Rehhagel is still one of the
best German managers of all time
because of what he did with Greece at EURO 2004.
As an attacking midfielder Joachim Löw had a relatively decent career playing mostly for Freiburg. On his last season as a player in 1994, Löw took a player-coach role at FC Frauenfield and that was when his coaching career started. Then he had a two-year spell atStuttgart
where he won his first trophies which was a DFB-Pokal in 1997 and a UEFA Cup Winners Cup in the next year. After winning another two domestic titles in Austrian football, Löw was appointed as the assistant of Jurgen Klinsmann in Germany national team in 2004. After Germany lost the 2006 World Cup semi-final to Italy, Löw succeeded Klinsmann and became the head coach of Germany. Löw insisted on playing a high-tempo offensive football which was just delightful for German fans.
On his first major tournament with Germany, Löw reached to the final of EURO 2008 but Spain managed to win the cup with a 1-0 win. Two years later, the European powerhouses met again in the World Cup semi-final and once again Spain was the superior side and Germany ended up winning a bronze medal. Eventually in the World Cup 2014 Löw was ready to claim his first trophy with Germany. After hamulating Brazil with seven goals in the semi-final, Germany won the final against Argentina thanks to a Mario Gotze late goal. Although his last two tournaments ended up with an upset, his consistency throughout a decade and winning a World Cup title, made Joachim Löw one of the best German managers of all time.
Franz Anton Beckenbauer was one of the best defenders that football has ever seen. He was an ultimate captain on the pitch and his leadership skills was every manager’s dream. After winning a EURO and a World Cup as a player with Germany,Franz Beckenbauer
started a coaching career in 1984 as the head coach of West Germany national team. Immediately he showed that he is one of the 10 best German managers of all time with reaching to a World Cup final in 1986 where they lost the game to Maradona’s Argentina.
Four years later, Franz Beckenbauer led his men to another World Cup final to face against Argentina for one more time. This time it was Germany who claimed the Jules Rimet trophy and Franz Beckenbauer become one of the three persons in history that lift the cup both as a player and a manager. After the World Cup, Beckenbauer joined Marseille in France and won a league title in his debut season. He also had two short spells at Bayern Munich and won a Bundesliga and a UEFA Cup during those spells. In 1996 Franz Beckenbauer ended his short but truly prolific career as a football coach.
You could say that most of the coaching geniuses didn’t have a successful career as a player and Udo Lattek is a proof of that. In 1965, at the age of 30, Lattek started his coaching career as an assistant coach to Helmut Schon in Germany national team. Five years later he joined Bayern Munich and shortly after, he took the European football by storm. Introducing young talents such asPaul Breitner
and Uli Hoeneß in addition to superstars like Gerd Muller made Bayern one of the best teams across the Europe. During his five seasons at the Bavarian side, Lattek won five titles including a European Cup in 1974.
Lattek also had a successful journey with Borussia Mönchengladbach as he won two consecutive league titles and a UEFA Cup in 1979 with the club. In 1981 Lattek decided to move abroad and coach Barcelona, where he was blessed by having Maradona on his side. He won a European Cup Winners' Cup in 1981 and returned to German football two years later to lead Bayern Munich to five more domestic trophies. There is no doubt that Udo Lattek was a winner man and winning 15 major titles throughout his career made him one of the
top 10 most successful German managers of all time
One of the most exciting figures in the world of football, Jürgen Norbert Klopp spent most of his career atMainz
where eventually he started his coaching career in 2001. From the very beginning, Jürgen Klopp implemented his ideas which was focusing on pressing and counter-pressing. In his third season, Klopp gained a Bundesliga promotion for the first time in the club’s history. He managed to keep the club in the German top flight for a few seasons until in 2008 he joined Borussia Dortmund to start another lovely story in a new club. On his first two seasons Klopp was building one of the most exciting teams in the Europe which was going to mesmerize fans all around the world.
In the 2010-11 season Klopp won his first trophy which was a Bundesliga title and he repeated that in the next season as well. After winning another three domestic cups and reaching to a UCL final, Klopp left the club in 2015 to start another challenging career with Liverpool. Once again, he needed some time to build his team and when he did, the trophies came one after another. Liverpool won its first Premier League title under Jürgen Klopp and their sixth UCL trophy in 2019. Klopp is still far away from retirement as a coach but his achievements and legacy in the modern football, already granted him a place as one of the best German managers of all time.
Apart from his first four years as a coach, Helmut Schon spent all of his coaching career at the West Germany national team. In 1656 he got appointed as an assistant coach in West Germany and two years later, he took the reigns to start a legendary career as the head coach of his country. On his first major tournament, Helmut Schon guided his men to aWorld Cup final
in 1966 where they lost against the hosts, England. Four years later, West Germany had another good run in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico but after a thrilling match in semi-final, they lost 4-3 to Italy and then won against Uruguay to claim a bronze medal.
Finally, Schon deservedly won his first major trophy in 1972 UEFA European Championship which was held in Belgium. The 1974 World Cup in the West Germany, was the perfect opportunity for Helmut Schon to complete his unfinished business. Schon had a decent squad consisted of Gerd Muller, Wolfgang Overath, Paul Breitner, Franz Beckenbauer and many others which helped him to clinch the nation’s second ever World Cup title by beating Netherland in the final match. Schon was on the verge of winning his third back-to-back major trophy but he lost the final of EURO 1976 to Czech Republic in penalty shoot-outs. Nevertheless, Helmut Schon was not only one of the
best German managers of all time
but also, he is one of the most successful managers on national level in the history of football.
As a player, Hennes Weisweiler name is amongst the very first eleven players that played forKoln
back in 1948 when the club was founded. Weisweiler was a player-coach during the first four years of the club and then he hanged up the boots to focus on a wonderful coaching career. His first trophy came with Borussia Monchengladbach in 1970 which was a Bundesliga title. Hennes Weisweiler was an expert in working with young talents and during his tenure at Monchengladbach, he introduced so many world-class talents such as Gunter Netzer, Jupp Heynkes, Bernd Rupp, and many others. On his last season at the club, Weisweiler won a double of Bundesliga and UEFA Cup titles and left for Barcelona in 1975.
His era at Barca didn’t go as planned and he returned to Germany empty-handed. In 1976 Weisweiler started his third spell at Koln and won two DFP-Pokal titles and one Bundesliga title with his beloved club. A domestic double with Grasshoper were his last trophies in 1983 as a coach. But Hennes Weisweiler legacy at German football is not limited to these trophies only; he also trained so many great football coaches from Germany and abroad. That is why there is a coaching training center named after him in Koln and he is considered as one of the most influential persons in German football and surly one of the best German managers of all time.
Both as a player and as a manager, Jupp Heynckes learned a lot from Hennes Weisweiler. Jupp was a decent striker and spent most of his career in Monchengladbach. One year after his retirement, Heynckes returned to Monchengladbach in 1979 as a head coach. During his eight years at his hometown club, Heynckes didn’t win any trophy but his side was playing an attractive style of football focused on zonal pressing and counter attacking and was one of the top-three teams on the table. The fans nicknamed him the champion without a title due to his wonderful seasons at the club. Eventually Heynckes won his first trophies a few years later with Bayern Munich: two league titles and two Supercup titles.
In 1997 Jupp Heynckes appointed as the head coach of Real Madrid and win the club’s first UCL title after more than three decades. After that, he coached on five different clubs in Portugal, Spain and Germany until he came back to Bayern Munich in 2011. After losing a UCL final on his first season, Jupp Heynckes won the first ever treble for a German club in the 2012-13 season as Bayern beat Dortmund in the UCL final. Heynckes decided that this was his last match as a coach and retired from the game; but in 2017, Jupp returned toBayern
as a caretaker manager and won his last ever trophy which was a Bundesliga title.
Ottmar Hitzfeld aka The General is one of the few German coaches that started his career abroad from Germany. He ended his playing career at Switzerland and started his coaching career at the country with SC Zug in 1983. The General remained at Swiss football for the next eight years and won seven domestic titles, four of them was during his tenure atGrasshoper
. Hitzfeld came to his homeland in 1991 and took charge at Dortmund. During his six years at the club, Hitzfeld won five titles including two Bundesliga titles and a UEFA Champions League title in 1997 which was his masterpiece at the club.
The next year he joined Bayern Munich and won four Bundesliga titles in his first five years. In addition to another six domestic titles, winning the Champions League in 2001 with the Bavarians made Hitzfeld one of the most successful managers ever in European football. Later in 2007, Hitzfeld had a one-season spell at Bayern Munich and managed to win a domestic treble before joining Switzerland national team in 2008. After reaching to the World Cup round of 16 in 2014 and putting on an astonishing performance against Argentina, Hitzfeld men got defeated only by a 118th minute goal in the extra times. Nevertheless, Ottmar Hitzfeld is one of the
best German managers of all time
, if not the very best.
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