Bayerns Heynckes to close Gladbach circle
Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes has said he is looking forward to completing the circle on Saturday in his 1011th -- and final -- Bundesliga game at Borussia Moenchengladbach, the club where the 68-year-old started his career as a teenager.
With Bayern to face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final on May 25, Heynckes will step down as Bayern coach at the end of the season to be replaced by former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola.
The away game at 'Gladbach, who he joined as a striker back in 1963, will be his final German league match having already steered Bayern to the title with a record 22-point margin.
"This is my club. It's where I started as a 19-year-old professional, then worked as a coach. Since then I have come full circle," said Heynckes, who is bidding to lift the Champions League title for the second time after his 1998 triumph as Real Madrid coach.
"Moenchengladbach is my home town, I spent 23 years at the club, so this will not be just a normal game for me and it'll be my last game as a Bundesliga manager."
No wonder Heynckes has a soft spot for Gladbach: he won the European Cup with them in 1972, was German league champions four times in the 1970s and won the 1974 World Cup with West Germany as a Borussia player.
Heynckes' current Bayern team smashed several Bundesliga records on the way to the title, winning 28 of their 33 games and dropping just seven points, and are bidding to become the first German team to win the treble of European, league and cup titles.
Having won the league with a record six games to spare back at the start of April, Heynckes admitted the season has had a touch of Hollywood.
"This is like a Steven Spielberg screenplay," he said after Bayern celebrated lifting the Bundesliga shield last weekend at home to Augsburg with a huge party in Munich.
"When you've trained a team like Bayern Munich, who have broken all records, there is no other goal to reach for with a Bundesliga team."
Heynckes has said he will reveal his future plans only after the season finishes with the German Cup final on June 1 in Berlin, against VfB Stuttgart.
"Everybody seems to think they have to contact me and offer a contract, but I'm just concentrating on the Champions League final and will also lead any negotiations," he said.
When news broke in January that he would be replaced by Guardiola, Heynckes was clearly riled and famously turned on a reporter who asked if he had contacted the Spaniard for tips on how to beat Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals.
"Please respect me and my work", Heynckes snapped.
"I've never consulted anyone or asked for advice. I do not need anyone to study an opponent."
Bayern have been eager to pour praise on their coach.
Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge dubbed him the "father of success" and "a master of his craft", but Heynckes has clearly been embarrassed by the gushing praise.
Paramedics, firefighters, caregivers, "our soldiers in Afghanistan" - these are people he feels deserves praise, not a football coach.
When the finals of May 25 and June 1 are decided and the trophies handed out, Heynckes will end his two-year stay in Munich by returning to his small farm in Schwalmtal, on the outskirts of Moenchengladbach, where his sheepdog Cando is the boss.
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