Ottmar Hitzfeld, a German manager who is currently head coach of the Switzerland national team, is set to retire in 2012 after the European Championships. Hitzfeld’s managerial feats will go down into German folklore. His tactical expertise and his ability to take an underdog and go all the way has made him a legend of German football.

Hitzfeld started his management career in Switzerland, where he won the Swiss league championship with Grasshopper on two occasions, and also lifted the Swiss Cup on three different occasions.

After his success in Switzerland, Hitzfeld attracted interest from Bundesliga sides and eventually filled the managerial position at Borussia Dortmund in 1991. In the season previous to Hitzfeld’s takeover, the club finished in tenth place and Hitzfeld dramatically improved on this. In his first season with BVB he lead them to a second-placed league finish, and entry into the UEFA Cup (now the Europa League). Ottmar spent the next few years building a side that would consistently challenge for a European spot, and in 1995 Hitzfeld tasted his first real success with the club. He managed to win the league title ahead of Bayern Munich, who had won for the three seasons prior to Hitzfeld’s win. In 1996, Hitzfeld defended the league title and was building quite a bit of prestige as a manager in German football.

The best for Hitzfeld and for Borussia Dortmund was yet to come though. In 1997, BVB finished in 3rd place in the league, but won the Champions League after a dramatic final against Juventus. In 1997, Juventus had a squad filled with players who now are legends of the game. Zinedine Zidane, Alessandro Del Piero, and Didier Deschamps just to name a few. Hitzfeld would taste victory, though, with a 2-1 win over the side from Turin.

A year later, Bayern Munich would come calling for Hitzfeld. The man who was able to beat them to league and European success was just the man they wanted to bring that glory back to Bavaria. Hitzfeld signed on with Bayern Munich, and a golden age at the club began. Hitzfeld, in his first season with FC Bayern, won the league by a record 15 points, and reached the German Cup and Champions League finals which he both lost by narrow margins. Munich finished 21 points ahead of fourth-placed Borussia Dortmund that year.

Hitzfeld Made History After Champions League Success With Two Different Clubs.

In 1999 Bayern Munich again won the league and this time the German cup as well, but failed to emulate their previous Champions League form. A year later, though, Hitzfeld once again reached the heights he had become known for during his time at Borussia Dortmund. Hitzfeld won all three domestic competitions as well as the Champions League trophy against Valencia.

Hitzfeld went on to win seven more trophies with Bayern Munich in the next few years but his success could not last forever. Eventually, Hitzfeld moved on to international football with Switzerland, where he has always impressed. Most recently, Switzerland have become infamous for their shock opening-day win over Spain at World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

Hitzfeld’s retirement certainly does put an end to one of the most successful careers in German football history. Having won over 40 titles, the Champions League with two different clubs, and not to mention a domestic hat-trick, Hitzfeld will certainly enter the annals of German football as a true legend of the game. We commemorate the man who put German football back on the map after achieving so much success on the European stage. Not since the era of Franz Beckenbauer has the Bundesliga seen a manager do so much for the game in Germany, and for this, if nothing else, Hitzfeld should be honoured.