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Top facts about Niko Kovac, the legendary Croat coach

Sat 15 January 2022 | 8:30

Niko Kovac won the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double in the 2002-03 season during his brief stint at Bayern Munich, however, he was not a regular player of the team. Read on to find out more facts about Niko Kovac, the former defensive midfielder.

Niko Kovac

(born 15 October 1971) is a Croat pro soccer coach and former player. He was the manager of AS Monaco in Ligue 1 until January 2022.

Niko Kovac’s age

is 50. Here you can find out the most important facts about Niko Kovac, the former Bayern Munich and Croatia manager.

Until his retirement from international football in January 2009, Kovac was the long-time captain of the Croatian national team. Kovac, a defensive midfielder noted for his superb passing and tackling abilities, was the oldest player in the Croatian team at the time of his retirement and had led them at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2008.

He's also had a lot of top-flight club experience, having spent the most of his career in the German Bundesliga with Hertha BSC, Bayer Leverkusen, Hamburger SV, and

Bayern Munich

.

An important fact about Niko Kovac is that he finished his playing career at Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, where he worked as a reserve team coach until finally becoming assistant manager under team manager Ricardo Moniz.

Following the sacking of Igor Timac, Kovac took over the Croatia national under-21 squad in January 2013 and the Croatia senior team in October 2013.

After managing Croatia at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Kovac became the head coach of Eintracht Frankfurt in 2016, where he led the team to the DFB-Pokal Final in 2018.

After a good finish to the season, Kovac won the domestic double with Bayern in 2019, but he was fired later that fall. Kovac was hired manager of Monaco in the summer of 2020, however he was fired on January 1, 2022.

Top facts about Niko Kovac:

A notable fact about Niko Kovac is that he started playing football at Rapide Wedding. In 1989 he moved to Hertha Zehlendorf, where Kovac made his debut in the men's division in 1990/9.

Niko Kovac early life

Kovac was born in Berlin-Wedding, West Berlin, on October 15, 1971, to a Croatian family from Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Speaking about

Niko Kovac’s parents

, it should be mentioned that Mato and Ivka, his parents, came from SFR Yugoslavia in 1970.

Brother Robert and sister Nikolina are his younger siblings. Regarding

Niko Kovac’s childhood

, it is worth mentioning that because he is also a German citizen, he was qualified to represent Germany, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the international level. Croatia was his choice.

Niko Kovac personal life

In 1999, Kovac married his elementary school love. Laura is the name of their daughter. He has a calm family life and places a high priority on family, which he attempts to instill in his players.

“My name is Niko Kovac, and I am the captain of Croatia's national football team. I was born and I am living in diaspora. Every appearance beneath our flag and during the national anthem is something I look forward to.

Also, my brother Robert! Some individuals now argue that we should not have the right to vote. And it's because of HDZ and Dr. Ivo Sanader.” Niko Kovac, in a 2007 election campaign video for the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

In 2007, Kovac was featured in a campaign film for the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) in the legislative election that year. The film focuses on the freedom of Croatian diaspora to vote while not residing in the nation, and shows Kovac discussing his ties to his birthplace.

Niko Kovac professional career

Former Bayern Munich and Croatia manager Niko Kovac was sacked by Ligue 1 side

Monaco

. He had been appointed in July 2020 to replace Spaniard Robert Moreno, who was sacked after only seven months. Kovac won the German league and cup double with Bayern in the 2018-19 season.

Niko Kovac club career

An important

fact about Niko Kovac

is that he began football training at the age of eight with Rapide Wedding in Berlin. Following that, he joined Hertha Zehlendorf and quickly rose through the ranks to become a member of the first team. In 1991, he joined Hertha BSC and began his professional career with the club, which was then in the 2. Bundesliga.

Kovac practiced judo alongside football throughout his childhood, attaining a blue belt. He pursued his study at Berlin's Free University after graduating high school (gymnasium).

While playing for Hertha BSC, he earned a degree in business studies. He dropped out of university after eight semesters when he was offered a job with Bayer Leverkusen.

Bayer Leverkusen

In the summer of 1996, Kovac moved to

Bayer Leverkusen

from Hertha Berlin, who was still in the 2. Bundesliga at the time. On August 17, 1996, he made his Bundesliga debut as a half-time replacement in the club's first match of the 1996–97 season, a 4–2 home triumph against Borussia Dortmund.

In his debut season with Leverkusen, he played 32 Bundesliga games and scored three goals. After suffering an injury in the club's home match against VfB Stuttgart in December 1997, he usually featured as a substitute in the next two seasons and missed numerous matches in the 1997–98 season.

Kovac made 77 Bundesliga games and scored eight league goals during his three seasons at Bayer Leverkusen. For the first time in his professional career, he was colleagues with his younger brother Robert at the club.

Hamburger SV

A notable

fact about Niko Kovac

is that he joined Hamburger SV in the summer of 1999 and played for the club for two seasons, making 55 Bundesliga matches and scoring 12 goals.

Bayern Munich

Kovac joined Bayern Munich, the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League champions at the time, in July 2001.

Along with his brother, Robert, Kovac became a member of the club. Kovac, on the other hand, failed to establish himself as a regular at Bayern and moved in the summer of 2003 for a second spell with Hertha BSC after two seasons. He played in 34 Bundesliga games for Bayern Munich, scoring three goals in the process.

BSC Hertha

Kovac then re-signed with Hertha. He appeared in 75 Bundesliga games for the club, scoring eight goals in the process.

Red Bull Salzburg

An important fact about Niko Kovac is that he departed Hertha after three seasons to join Austrian Bundesliga club

Red Bull Salzburg

following the 2006 FIFA World Cup. In the summer of 2006, he was a fixture in the Salzburg squad, appearing in all four of their UEFA Champions League qualifiers.

He made his Bundesliga debut for Red Bull Salzburg on August 26, 2006, when he scored the second goal in a 4–0 home win against Wacker Tirol.

In May 2008, he extended his contract for another year, till summer 2009. Kovac retired from professional football on May 29, 2009, after three years with Red Bull. He last appeared for Red Bull in a friendly against previous club Bayern Munich, in which he was replaced after 15 minutes.

Niko Kovac international career

On December 11, 1996, in Casablanca, Kovac made his senior international debut in a friendly match against

Morocco

.

An important

fact about Niko Kovac

is that he also played in three qualifying matches for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, but he was unable to compete in the finals in France due to his injury, which he could not completely heal from before the start of the tournament preparations.

He was then out of the national squad for two years until making his return in November 1999 in a friendly match against France.

Kovac represented Croatia in five World Cup qualification matches, scoring one goal in Croatia's 4–0 win against San Marino. He started all three group matches in the final event before Croatia was eliminated after finishing third in their group.

In UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying, he made seven appearances and scored two goals in away matches, the 1–0 winner against Estonia and the first goal in the team's 3–0 triumph against

Andorra

.

He also started all three of Croatia's group matches in the final Euro 2004 tournament in Portugal, scoring the opening goal against England in the last group encounter.

Croatia, on the other hand, lost the match 4–2 and was ousted from the competition as the third-placed team in its group.

Following Euro 2004, Kovac was named captain of the Croatian national team, which he led during the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign in Germany. He played in nine of the ten qualifying matches for the World Cup and scored two goals, both in Croatia's 4–0 win against Iceland in Zagreb.

Despite an injury that caused him to leave the field after 40 minutes of Croatia's first encounter against Brazil, he played in all three of Croatia's group matches in the final event. In the last group match against

Australia

, Kovac scored the goal that put Croatia 2–1 ahead.

The match, however, finished in a 2–2 tie, and Croatia was eliminated as the group's third-place finisher. This was the third time in a big event that this has occurred.

Captain Kovac had a heartbreaking Euro 2008 campaign. In what may be his last big tournament, his outstanding efforts against Germany and Turkey went unnoticed.

He was unrivaled against Germany, putting up a man of the match performance with

Luka Modric

, while against Turkey, he confined his opponents to pot shots from afar as they seldom broke past his back four screening cover.

A notable

fact about Niko Kovac

is that he said before and after the game that he intended to retire from international football at the conclusion of Euro 2008, but after speaking with Slaven Bili, it seems that he still has "unfinished business" to attend to.

On January 7, 2009, Kovac announced his international retirement, emphasizing his desire for younger players to get experience in the Croatian team.

Niko Kovac coaching career

From 16 June 2009 until 7 April 2011, Kovac was the coach of FC Red Bull Salzburg's second side, Red Bull Juniors, after retiring from professional football.

Salzburg Red Bull

Niko Kovac finished sixth in the 2009–10 season and was eliminated in the second round of the Austrian Cup in a shootout. Until April 7, 2011, he was a member of the second team. In his last outing, he drew 1–1 with SV Seekirchen.

In 2011, he was appointed to assistant coach of the first squad, working under head coach Ricardo Moniz. Kovac was one of the front-runners to replace Moniz as first-team coach when he quit in June 2012. However, Roger Schmidt was appointed to the role, and Kovac subsequently departed Salzburg.

Croatia

On January 21, 2013, Igor Timac, the Croatian national team's head coach, stated that Kovac will take over as the under-21 team's head coach, with his brother Robert as an assistant coach.

His goal was to make the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in 2015. Croatia, along with Switzerland, Ukraine, Latvia, and Liechtenstein, was placed in Group 5 of the qualifying campaign. Croatia earned a total of 12 points in the first four games, with a goal differential of 13–0.

He made his debut with a 5–0 away victory against Liechtenstein, followed by two away victories over group favorites Ukraine and Switzerland.

Niko Kovac was named caretaker manager of the Croatia senior squad by Davor uker, head of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS), on October 16, 2013. He took over for timac, who was fired after Croatia barely qualified for the World Cup play-offs with just one point from their last four qualifiers.

However, at an introductory news conference one day later, Suker said that HNS had signed a two-year deal with Kovac and his team, which included his brother Robert Kovac, Vatroslav Mihai, and Goran Lackovic, until the conclusion of Croatia's UEFA Euro 2016 campaign. His first two appearances for Croatia were against Iceland in the World Cup play-offs.

Croatia qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil after defeating Iceland 2–0 on aggregate in the play-off tie.

Croatia defeated Cameroon 4–0 at the World Cup, but fell 3–1 against Brazil and Mexico. Croatia failed to advance from their group. After Croatia defeated 2–0 against Norway in UEFA Euro 2016 qualification on September 9, 2015, HNS canceled Kovac's contract.

Frankfurt

On March 8, 2016, Kovac was named head coach of Eintracht Frankfurt. In a 3–0 defeat to Borussia Mönchengladbach, he made his managing debut for Frankfurt.

The team could only finish 16th in the league, forcing them to compete in the relegation play-offs against 1. FC Nürnberg. Following a 1–1 draw in the first game at home, Kovac guaranteed Eintracht's Bundesliga safety with a 1–0 victory in the second leg. The DOSB awarded Kovac a Fair Play Prize for his gesture of consolation to Nürnberg's players after their loss.

Frankfurt finished mid-table in 11th place in the 2016–17 season, as well as reaching the 2017 DFB-Pokal Final, the club's first final since 2006, when they lost 1–2 to Borussia Dortmund.

Frankfurt fought for a spot in European competition for the next season during the 2017–18 season.  Kovac has traditionally played a 3–4–2–1 shape, focusing on defensive solidity and wing play.

He led Frankfurt to their second consecutive DFB-Pokal Final, when they defeated Bayern Munich, his future employer. Kovac guided Frankfurt to its first trophy since 1988 with the victory. In 91 games, he had a record of 38 wins, 20 draws, and 33 loses. His replacement was Adi Hütter.

Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich confirmed on April 13, 2018, that Kovac will replace Jupp Heynckes as manager for the 2018–19 season, with a three-year deal running until June 30, 2021. Robert Kovac, Kovac's brother, would accompany him to Munich as his assistant coach.

Kovac had a contract with Frankfurt until June 30, 2018, and Bayern had to pay a €2.2 million release clause in his contract. After Sren Lerby, Franz Beckenbauer, and

Jürgen Klinsmann

, Kovac is just the fourth former player to coach Bayern Munich.

After Zlatko ajkovski and Branko Zebec, Kovac was the third Croat to lead Bayern. Kovac formally took over on July 1, 2018 and was introduced as Bayern Munich's next manager on July 2, 2018. On August 12, Kovac won his first match as Bayern Munich manager, a 5–0 victory against

Eintracht Frankfurt

in the German Super Cup.

On August 25, he won his first Bundesliga game as Bayern manager, defeating 1899 Hoffenheim 3–1 at home. After a 5–1 home victory over his previous club, Eintracht Frankfurt, on May 19, 2019, he guided Bayern to their eighth straight Bundesliga championship, defeating closest opponents Borussia Dortmund by two points. This was Kovac's first championship as a coach in the Bundesliga.

When Bayern overcame RB Leipzig 3–0 in the 2019 DFB-Pokal Final on May 25, Kovac led Bayern to a league and cup double. It was Kovac's second straight cup victory, becoming him the only coach to do so since Felix Magath in 2005 and 2006. Kovac was also the first person in German football history to win the league and cup double as both a player and a coach.

Bayern Munich beat Tottenham Hotspur 7–2 in the Champions League on October 1, with Serge Gnabry scoring four goals. It was Bayern's second-highest European victory, behind only their 7–1 win against Roma in October 2014. After a 5–1 defeat against his previous club, Eintracht Frankfurt, Kovac departed by mutual consent on November 3rd.

Monaco

Kovac was named head coach of Ligue 1 club Monaco on July 19, 2020. After being two goals behind against Reims in his debut game as Monaco coach on August 23, Kovac managed a 2–2 draw. After going down 0–2, Monaco defeated French champions and Champions League finalists Paris Saint-Germain 3–2 on November 20.

On February 21, 2021, he beat Paris Saint-Germain for the second time, this time by a score of 2–0. Monaco triumphed at Parc des Princes for the first match since March 2016. Kovac was afterwards favorably appreciated by French sports media. Monaco lost the Coupe de France Final against Paris Saint-Germain 2–0 on May 19. Monaco confirmed Kovac's departure on January 1, 2022.

Niko Kovac legacy

Niko Kovac has worked with Luka Modric and

Ivan Rakitic

, and has won the league and cup double with Bayern Munich, both as a player and as a coach.

However, he had to work hard to get there. Born to Croatian immigrant parents in the working-class Berlin neighborhood of Wedding, Kovac learnt his craft with his younger brother, Robert, on the harsh concrete pitches of Germany's capital city.

Niko, a no-nonsense defensive midfielder in his day, made up for his lack of physicality — he stands at 5'9" – with a never-say-die attitude. "I couldn't bear losing a game, even in training," he told the Frankfurter Rundschau, and during his playing days, he was famously reported as declaring "we have to be scumbags occasionally."

His first club to gain from his dalliances with the darker arts was Hertha Berlin, who gave him his Bundesliga 2 debut as a 21-year-old in 1992.

However, there are some significant brains to go with all that muscle, as Kovac completed eight semesters of a business studies degree before making his Bundesliga debut in 1996 with Bayer Leverkusen, when he joined at the same time as his brother.

His nine goals in 93 games drew the attention of Hamburg, where he played two years from 1999 to 2001 before returning to Bayern with his younger brother. Kovac only stayed at Munich for two years, but he returned to Hertha after scoring five goals in 47 competitive appearances for the Reds and winning the Bundesliga and DFB Cup double in 2002/03.

He was already a full Croatia international at that point, however he was unable to participate in the team that finished third in the 1998 World Cup in France due to injury. Between 2002 and 2008, he appeared in every major international tournament, offering a veteran shield in a midfield that included the blossoming talents of Modric and Rakitic.

He finished his playing career in Austria with a three-year tenure with Red Bull Salzburg, where he won one league championship before retiring at the age of 38 in 2009.

Kovac started coaching nearly quickly, initially with the Salzburg reserves for two years before taking over the Croatia U21s in 2012. When a good stint there, he was named as head coach of the senior team in 2013, after Croatia had just one point in four 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

With his brother Robert as his assistant, Kovac turned the team’s fortunes around and guided a squad comprising former colleagues Modric and Rakitic to the global showcase in Brazil, where they were eventually unable to proceed past the group stage.

Nonetheless, Eintracht Frankfurt had obviously recognized Kovac's coaching ability and had invited him back to the Bundesliga for his first stint in charge of a senior team.

He was also thrown in at the deep end, with the Eagles sitting in 16th position with just 24 points following Matchday 25 of the 2015/16 season. In the remaining games, Frankfurt scored 12 more points to avoid relegation in the relegation play-offs against Nuremberg.

Following the second leg of the play-offs, Kovac, a devout Catholic, received two Fair Play awards in Germany, having consoled the defeated Nuremberg players before celebrating with his own.

"They gave it their all during the course of the Bundesliga 2 season in 34 games to attempt to be promoted," he stated afterwards. "Two games later, their hopes were shattered."

It's natural to sympathize with them. It was totally natural for me to do so, and I'm sure many others would have done the same. However, much has changed in our culture, and we must ensure that we reach the correct conclusions."

His coaching approach reflects his feeling of responsibility and unity, and his team at Frankfurt notably had 18 different nationalities at one time.

Rather than being intimidated by such a test of his man-management abilities, Kovac enrolled in a course on 'Intercultural Decision-Making Skills' offered by the German Football Association (DFB). He said, "As a coach, I want to be able to interact with each person as effectively as possible."

He was clearly effective in doing so, successfully transmitting his ideology and bringing out the best in a bunch of players that had only nearly escaped relegation earlier.

At first glance, his approach, which combines the discipline of his German upbringing with the more spontaneous side of his Balkan origins, may seem paradoxical, since it combines the discipline of his German upbringing with the more spontaneous side of his Balkan roots.

"Everyone is aware of my persona," Kovac remarked. "I'm a little impulsive, and I'd want the squad to reflect that – but not to the point of anarchy." I'm the same way I was as a player as a coach, but you have to have fun."

His teammates heeded the message, placing 11th and ninth in his two full seasons in Frankfurt, respectively, and reaching two DFB Cup finals in a row. In 2018, he won his last game in command of the club, a 3-1 victory against future employers Bayern Munich.

When Kovac took over as coach of Bayern Munich in the summer of 2018, he became just the third former Bayern player (after Franz Beckenbauer and Jürgen Klinsmann) to lead the record German champions. Furthermore, Kovac grew up as a Bayern Munich supporter, with a poster of former striker and current club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge on his wall.

On paper, everything had fallen into place, but Kovac's time at Bayern had a rocky start, with the team failing to reach the top of the standings between Matchdays 5 and 25. The Reds finally came good, winning the Bundesliga by two points over Borussia Dortmund and then dominating RB Leipzig 3-0 in the DFB Cup final.

Kovac's stint at Bayern Munich came to an end in the middle of the 2019/20 season, unfortunately after a 5-1 loss against former club Frankfurt, but his reputation remains unblemished, with a track record that speaks for itself.

Some quick facts about Niko Kovac:

In the summer of 1991, he went to the second division Hertha BSC where he stayed until 1996 but never managed to promote to the Bundesliga.

He made his professional debut on November 2, 1991 (16th matchday) in a 1-1 draw at home against VfL Osnabrück, when he replaced Armin Görtz in the 77th minute. He scored his first goal in the following season on December 12, 1992 (25th matchday) in a 3-0 home win over Hannover 96. He was also used six times in the DFB Cup.

From 1996 to 1999 he played for Bundesliga club Bayer 04 Leverkusen, for whom he played 77 league games (eight goals), seven Champions League games and four UEFA Cup games. With FC Bayern he played 34 league games (three goals), seven DFB Cup games (one goal) and six Champions League games (one goal), won the double (championship and cup win) in 2003 and left the club.

After three more seasons for Hertha BSC, Kovac moved to Austria in 2006 for FC Red Bull Salzburg, where he was the team captain at the end of his first season in 2007, Austrian champions. After the end of the 2008/09 season, in which he was again champion, he ended his career as an active footballer on May 31, 2009.

An important fact about Niko Kovac is that he made his debut in 1996 in the Croatian national team, for which he came up to his resignation as a national player in January 2009. He participated in the World Championships in 2002 and 2006 as well as at the European Championships in 2004 and 2008.

In each of the three group games of these tournaments he also scored two goals: On June 21, 2004 in the 2-4 defeat in the last group game against England and on June 22, 2006 in a 2-2 loss in the last group game against Australia.

Niko Boateng was born in Berlin and reared with his brother Robert in the Berlin neighborhood of Wedding, where his brothers Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng would later learn to play football.

One of Kovac's earliest clubs was Hertha Zehlendorf, where he followed in the footsteps of Pierre Littbarski at a club that also produced Antonio Rüdiger, John Brooks, and Christian Ziege.

He would, however, make his professional debut with Hertha Berlin, the city's greatest club, where he made 242 appearances, launching a career that would take him all across Germany and the globe.

As a kid, Kovac had a poster of his future employer, Bayern Munich's Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, on his wall. Kovac achieved his dream transfer as a 29-year-old in 2001 when the record champions came knocking after a five-year stay with Bayer Leverkusen and then Hamburg.

The Intercontinental Cup in his first season, followed by the Bundesliga and DFB Cup double in his second, demonstrates that the risk paid off for both the club and the player.

A notable

fact about Niko Kovac

is that he won 83 caps for Croatia during a 12-year career with the national team. He was injured during Croatia's third-place finish at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, but he returned to play in four tournaments in a row from the 2002 World Cup to UEFA Euro 2008, and captained the side at his 'home' World Cup in Germany in 2006.

He started his team's first game against

Brazil

in the Olympiastadion, which is only a few minutes from where he grew up. He also scored in the controversial encounter against Australia, in which teammate Josip Simunic was sent off by referee Graham Poll after receiving three yellow cards.

Kovac joined Red Bull Salzburg in 2006 and scored the club's first-ever Austrian Bundesliga goal, as well as winning the championship in 2007 and 2009.

He chose to make Salzburg his home after hanging up his boots. Before taking over as assistant to Ricardo Moniz with the first squad, Kovac was given the reigns of the club's reserve team.

Following Moniz's departure and the arrival of future Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt, Kovac received an offer from the Croatian FA to coach their U21 team, which he eagerly accepted.

He was promoted to the senior squad for the World Cup play-off against Iceland after five victories in a row. Before guiding his team to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, he noted, "It's a tremendous challenge, but it's also an appealing one."

Niko Kovac social media

Regarding

Niko Kovac social media

, it should be mentioned that he does not have any pages on any social media platforms.

Niko Kovac body measurements

Speaking about

Niko Kovac body measurements

, it should be mentioned that the coach is 176 cm and 75 kg.

Niko Kovac net worth and salary

Niko Kovac's net worth

is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.

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