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Flick steps out of Loew’s shadow to become Germany’s main man

Berlin (AFP) – Having long played second fiddle to Joachim Loew in the national team dugout, new Germany coach Hansi Flick will crown a meteoric rise to touchline stardom when he takes over from his former boss after Euro 2020.

Flick helped mastermind a golden era as Loew’s assistant coach for eight years up until 2014, culminating with Germany’s World Cup win in Brazil.

Yet since leaving the German Football Association (DFB) in 2017, Flick has become a coaching star in his own right thanks to a whirlwind spell in charge of Bayern Munich.

In just 18 months at the helm of Germany’s biggest club, Flick racked up seven trophies, including a historic Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League treble in the 2019/20 season.

His recent success and historic ties to the DFB made him strong favourite to take over the national team after Loew announced he would end a 15-year reign following the delayed Euro 2020 in June and July.

“I think everyone agrees that Hansi has what it takes to lead top players, whether that was in his many years with us or recently with Bayern,” said Loew in March when asked about his potential successor.

On Tuesday, the DFB announced they had got their man, tying Flick down on a three-year deal as Germany’s 10th head coach since World War II.

– World Cup triumph –

Born in 1965, Flick enjoyed a short but successful playing career, winning four Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich in the late 1980s.

After injuries forced the midfielder to retire at 28, Flick had spells coaching lower-league clubs, and notably kickstarted Hoffenheim’s eventual rise to the Bundesliga with promotion from the fourth to the third tier in 2001.

Yet it was as Loew’s assistant from 2006 to 2014 that Flick gained national fame, helping Germany to five successive semi-final appearances at major tournaments.

He played a crucial role in the 2014 World Cup triumph, famously urging Loew to practise set-pieces more in training sessions ahead of the tournament.

A popular figure in the dressing room, he was also praised for his sportsmanship that summer, telling the players to rein in their celebrations after Germany’s 7-1 historic thrashing of hosts Brazil in the semi-finals.

Having stepped down as assistant coach after the 2014 World Cup, Flick spent three years as the DFB’s sporting director before leaving the association in 2017.

– Bayern brilliance –

Previously described by media as “Loew’s shadow man”, Flick emphatically stepped into the limelight in the 2019/20 season.

After a brief return to Hoffenheim, he joined Bayern as assistant coach to Niko Kovac in 2019.

When Kovac’s ill-fated reign imploded that November after a 5-1 mauling at Eintracht Frankfurt, Flick was promoted to steady the ship, initially as a stop-gap fix, but ended up exceeding all expectations.

His familiarity with senior Germany players helped him coax the likes of Thomas Mueller and Jerome Boateng back to their best form, and lead Bayern to only their second ever treble in 2020.

“Hansi played a hugely important role, especially with regard to my role in the team,” veteran forward Mueller told the Bundesliga website last November.

Later victories in the German Super Cup, European Super Cup and Club World Cup made Flick the first Bayern coach to win all six possible trophies in a single year.

Yet despite also leading Bayern to a ninth successive Bundesliga title in 2021, his relationship with the club turned sour in his second season.

Following a long power struggle with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, Flick announced in April that he wanted his contract terminated at the end of the season.

Despite the acrimonious end to his tenure, Flick still ranks among the most successful coaches in Bayern’s illustrious history.

“He will always have a place in the history books of this club,” said president Herbert Hainer. 

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