(Reuters) - Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes helped re-establish Real Madrid’s reputation as kings of Europe by winning the Champions League in 1998 after a 32-year drought, but the German does not hold a special place in the Spanish club’s illustrious history.
Bayern host Real on Wednesday in a Champions League semi-final first leg and Henyckes’s former club stand in the way of him becoming only the third coach alongside Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley to win Europe’s biggest club prize three times.
Heynckes, 72, came out of retirement in October to take charge of Bayern for a fourth time after Ancelotti was sacked and has led them to the Bundesliga title and the domestic Cup final.
His hero status in Bavaria contrasts with the isolated figure he cut during his single season at Real, where the team finished an embarrassing fourth in the standings a year after winning the title under Fabio Capello.
Real made amends for a dire domestic campaign with a brilliant Champions League run, much like this season, but while current coach Zinedine Zidane has always enjoyed the backing of his players, Heynckes felt no such support.
As his players celebrated after Predrag Mijatovic’s goal clinched a 1-0 win over Juventus in the Champions League final, German Heynckes was nowhere to be seen, choosing to spend the moments after the game with his family.
His sacking was made official eight days later.
“This decision had been taken a long time ago and one game could not change it,” Real’s then President Lorenzo Sanz said.
“He had lost control of the dressing-room. I know it’s hard with so many international players. Perhaps he was too nice a person.”
Heynckes was not the only coach to have a short-lived reign at the Bernabeu during that period. His immediate successor Jose Antonio Camacho left the role less than a month after taking it, Guus Hiddink was sacked seven months later and John Toshack lasted less than nine months in the Bernabeu dugout.
Toshack would have sympathised with Heynckes’s struggles as he tried to manage a squad containing huge personalities such as Raul, Davor Suker and Christian Panucci. The Welshman likened the atmosphere in the dressing-room to “Baghdad during wartime”.
Real finally found stability under Vicente del Bosque who led them to Champions League glory in 2000 and 2002. Another triumph under Ancelotti in 2014 and Zidane’s wins in 2016 and 2017 have extended the club’s record tally to 12.
But there is little lasting recognition for Heynckes who delivered the club’s seventh European Cup in Amsterdam, picking up the torch from the great Real sides who won it six times from 1956-66 to spark a second wave of European domination.
Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond