VIENNA, July 25 (Reuters) - Former Czech Republic coach Karel Brueckner has been appointed Austria coach, the Austrian Football Federation said on Friday.
The 68-year-old Brueckner with his trademark white mane retired after the Czech team’s group-stage exit from Euro 2008 last month and said at the time he was looking forward to a rest after 34 years on the bench.
Media speculation about who would succeed Josef Hickersberger as Austria coach had focused on Hickersberger’s assistant Andreas Herzog, the former Werder Bremen midfielder. Brueckner’s name was never mentioned.
“I am glad that we succeeded in signing on Karel Bruecker,” Austrian Football Federation head Friedrich Stickler told a televised news conference. “He is one of the most experienced national coaches in Europe.
“He has shown great experience and a good instinct with young players many times. That’s the guarantee that our restructuring and rejuvenation path of the last years will continue.”
Brueckner took over the Czech team after their failure to qualify for the 2002 World Cup and set about transforming a dispirited and disjointed side into a lively attack-minded one that reached its peak at Euro 2004.
Using several of the players he had taken to the under-21 European final in 2000, and tactics befitting the chess-lover he is, Brueckner ensured the Czechs qualified for the three major championships that took place during his reign.
Brueckner’s contract begins on Aug. 1 and covers the World Cup 2010 qualifying campaign. It will extend automatically if Austria qualify for the finals in South Africa. (Reporting by Boris Groendahl)