Monday, 30 November 2015

2015 Memoriam: Udo Lattek

31st January 2015 – Udo Lattek, 80

“I tried to give the players in the game a lot of freedom. I have set the framework and told the players: "Watch out, guys, the frame is only there that we have a common conception of things." For me, everyone had the opportunity and the right to step out this framework, if it was in the sense of the team. Who was only there to excel himself, who got what in the nut. But I hate it when a player on the court questioning looks for trainer and wants to know what he should do in this or that situation. The word responsibility has always been important for me, and so I think the oversupply of many professionals today not in order.” Udo Lattek, Faz interview, 2005

German football manager. After a five year spell as the assistant coach to the West German national team, in which they reached the 1966 World Cup final, he moved to become manager of Bayern Munich. He arrived at Bayern, an inexperienced manager with a team with a great backbone: Sepp Meier in goal, Gerd Muller up front, and the incomparable Franz Beckenbauer. He astutely signed Uli Hoeness from Ulm, Ranier Zobel from Hannover, Dane Johnny Hansen from Nurnberg and the revolutionary socialist maverick (and massively talented midfielder) Paul Breitner from unheralded Freilassing.

Bayern promptly finished 2nd in his first season in charge, but had shown signs of what was to come, with a run to the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (later the UEFA Cup) Quarterfinals, and a win in the German Cup final, 2-1 over Koln. The next year brought the first of three consecutive league titles, an event unheralded in German football to that point. Since it’s formation in 1963, the Bundesliga had been won by 7 different teams in the first 8 seasons.

It was the European transition which stood out, however. Bayern had some European success prior to Lattek’s entrance on the scene. They had won the Cup Winners Cup in 1967, beating Rangers in the final. Their own previous entry into the European Cup, however, ended in the first round with a 3-2 defeat to St Etienne. Their aforementioned German Cup win got them a run in the Cup Winners Cup of 1972, but this time they took on Rangers (the team of Stein, Jardine, Greig, Baxter – a fine team) in the Semis and the Scots won. In 1972/3, they had a proper shot at the European Cup. Galatasaray and Omonia were swept aside (Omonia by the tight scoreline of 13-0!) before a showdown with the unstoppable Ajax, holders of the trophy since 1971, in the Quarterfinals.

The first match ended 4-0 to the holders, killing the tie, but a 2-1 victory was achieved in the second leg.

The 1973-4 Cup didn’t start like a trophy which had the Bayern name on it. Bayern found themselves 3-1 down in Sweden to unfancied Atvidabergs. Having won the first leg 3-1, they were down and out at 3-0 down until Uli Hoeness snuck in the equaliser for the tie late on, and Bayern snuck through on penalties.

It was an East v West clash in the second round, as they took on Dynamo Dresden of East Germany. Dresden took the lead, twice, before Gerd Muller, der Bomber as he was known, knocked in a crucial winner, the odd goal in seven shared. In Dresden, Hoeness raced his side into a 2-0 lead, which proved crucial as the game wound up drawn three all, and so Bayern got through again, by the skin of their teeth. Of course, one would point to the attacking philosophy laid out by Lattek – a team can’t advance by scoring one more than the opposition if they can’t score.

What they weren’t expecting was a second round helping hand, from a different country. On a gloomy night in Bulgaria, an extra time goal by Mihaylov of CSKA Sofia knocked the unstoppable Ajax out of Europe. The Cup, suddenly, was up for grabs for all. Bayern immediately drew CSKA Sofia in the next round, and promptly dispatched them with a calm 4-1 win at the Olympiastadion. Ujpesti of Hungary in the Semifinals, and an away draw was finished with a clinical 3-0 victory in Germany. Bayern Munich were in their first European Cup final.

“It was 15 May 1974, and Bayern Munich were trailing 1-0 to Atlético Madrid in extra-time in Brussels. Luis Aragonés, later Spain's Euro 2008-winning coach, had given the Spaniards the lead with a direct free-kick (114.), the Germans were running out of time. They didn't create any meaningful chances. Twenty seconds from the final whistle, the centre-back Schwarzenbeck (dubbed "the Kaiser's cleaner" by the German media) found himself with the ball and no better idea than to try his luck from 25 metres. Gerd Müller was about to wave his arm, demanding a cross, when the low shot hit the back of the net. Legend has it that Atlético's keeper Miguel Reina, the father of Pepe Reina, was talking to a photographer behind the goal who had asked for his kit that very second. Video evidence is inconclusive. Reina senior has always denied the story. Schwarzenbeck's goal forced a replay. Two days later, two superbly crafted goals from Müller and Uli Hoeness each destroyed Madrid 4-0. "We partied all night long," said Franz "Bulle" Roth, the powerful midfielder who would score decisive goals in the next two European Cup finals. "The next day, we had to play in Gladbach. We arrived fairly drunk and lost 5-0. Luckily, we were already champions and the game did not matter."
Raphael Honigstein, Guardian 23 May 2013

That summer, West Germany, full of confident Bayern players, won the World Cup for the second time. Key was the form of Gerd Muller, top scorer, the play making swagger of Breitner (who brought his book of Mao to each training session), and Beckenbauer. Lattek’s insistence in Der Kaiser changing his style of play, from that of the typical defensive midfielder into the dynamo of the team, creating chances and goals as well as snuffing the oppositions out, was crucial.

As you can imagine, Bayern were delighted with this unprecedented success and riches Lattek had earned for them. And by delighted, naturally, of course I mean they sacked him after a short spell of bad results in early 1975, with his side still in the European Cup (they won it afterwards).

Not to be undone, Udo Lattek accepted a job offer from Gladbach, and promptly won two more league titles in the latter half of the 1970s, beating Bayern to them. He also won the UEFA Cup. He also took Gladbach to the first European Cup final, only to lose to Bob Paisley’s Liverpool side. A short stay at Barcelona followed, where he won the Cup Winners Cup. Thus, Udo Lattek became the first manager to win all three European trophies, and with different clubs too. To this day (and the Cup Winners Cup was exterminated against public support in the late 90s, so its unbeatable now) only Giovanni Trapattoni has equalled that feat.

While at Barcelona, he signed a young Argentine footballer, of whom big things were hoped for in the future. Diego Maradona.

On leaving Barcelona, the offer of a return to Bayern Munich was on the cards. He accepted it and swiftly won Bayern another three league titles. His second great Bayern side swept all before them in his pre-announced final season at the club, smashing European giants of the era like Anderlecht and Real Madrid easily on their way to the European Cup final. In the final, however, they faced a tough Porto side lead by Artur Jorge.

“Both teams were without significant players for the final. As well as their suspended captain Augenthaler, Bayern were also without their winger Roland Wohlfarth, while Porto had both centre-back Lima Pereira and striker Fernando Gomes out with broken legs. Bayern were big favourites to win in front of 62,000 spectators in Vienna’s Prater Stadium, and they took the lead after 24 minutes. The goal came from a throw-in level with the Porto penalty area. With Porto’s Magelhaes standing three yards in front of Pfugler as he prepared to take the throw, Belgian referee Alexis Ponnet strangely ordered him back 10 yards, and as he retreated the throw was taken. Slightly off balance, Magelhaes managed to get his head to the ball, but he could only flick it towards Bayerns Ludwig Kogl who headed the ball just beyond the despairing dive of Pfaff and into the Porto net. It had been ten years since any team had scored more than one goal in a European Cup final, so the odds were now stacked even more firmly against the Portuguese side. Bayern went on to dominate the rest of the first half, with Rummenigge coming close with a cross shot, but Porto made it to the interval with just a one goal deficit. At half-time Porto manager Artur Jorge brought Juary on for Quim and the substitute, along with fellow Brazilian Celso, was instrumental in the Porto comeback which happened in the second half. They provided the ammunition for forwards Futre and Madjer to cause havoc amongst the Bayern defence. It was not until the 77th minute, however, that the pressure finally told, but it was then that one of the most memorable European Cup Final goals was scored. As Porto attacked down the right hand side, the ball was played through to Juary and as Pfaff dived at his feet, the Brazilian flicked the ball to his right where Madjer, with his back to the goal, cheekily back heeled the ball into the net. Before Bayern could recover from the shock, they were behind. The same two men behind the equaliser combined once more as this time Madjer ran down the left wing before crossing to the far post where Juary volleyed the ball high into the roof of the net. There were still ten minutes remaining, but Bayern never really threatened the Porto goal again before the final whistle blew to end probably the most exciting final for a decade and, for the second season running, crown a surprise winner.” European Cup History website

Lattek retired, but, like all great men with the itch, couldn’t resist short runs in charge of Koln and Schalke in the early 1990s. By 1992 he was happily retired, a TV pundit and football article writer. Then, in 2000, Dortmund, European Champions 3 years previously found themselves with five games left, and on the verge of relegation. They sent out an SOS to the greatest manager not in work. Lattek took the job (and the money they threw at him to be their saviour). Despite a narrow defeat against Bayern Munich – it had to be Munich – Lattek got Dortmund to win two of those last five games, and drew another two. They stayed up by five points, they won their last game of the season 3-0 away from home in Berlin, and Udo Lattek calmly rode off back into the sunset, retired for good.

He carried on being a familiar face on German TV, as a football pundit, until a stroke in 2012 which he never fully recovered from.

There is an argument for Udo Lattek being the greatest German football manager of all time. In fact, those who might be classified above him earned their training at his side, Heynches and Hitzfeld and co. He crafted Bayern into the European behemoths they became, stitched the best of German talent into a side that won the European Cup, the domestic title, and later the World Cup. His eye for talent was second to none, and his resume (8 league titles, 3 European Cups) barely bettered. He was a strong influence on the careers of Beckenbauer, Breitner, Hoeness, Maradona, Berti Vogts, Heynches, Bernd Schuster, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Lothar Matthau, Klaus Augenthaler, and Matthias Sammer, to name but a few. His pragmatic attacking approach (score to win the game, but lock the back door, basically) was sneered at in comparison to the gung-ho total football of the Dutch (and the leave your brain at home style of the Brits), but as time has moved on, all the greatest European sides have used his approach as their blue print, from Milan to Real Madrid.

He shaped his countries football, and in turn European football, world football and the world itself in his own image.

“"Where there is friction there is energy," was the guiding ethos of Lattek's career, and he certainly got some positive force out of Bayern. Recommended to the club by Franz Beckenbauer while he was assistant coach of West Germany, Lattek helped power them to three championships, a German Cup and the European Cup (won, 4-0, in a replay against Club Atlético de Madrid), even though his motivational methods could be unconventional. Goalkeeper Sepp Maier remembered an incident after a Bayern defeat when the team ignored a curfew and went to a nightclub, only to be tracked down by their coach. "Udo saw the seven or eight of us sitting there and said: 'Right, I'll count to 25,000 and if anyone's still here after that, there'll be trouble.'"
UEFA obituary

“He made his own mark on European football by coaching teams to win the three UEFA club competitions with three different teams, a feat that has never been matched.”
Michel Platini

“With Udo Lattek the football loses one of its most successful German coaches and a big personality. His name his indelibly linked with Borussia’s successes in the late 1970s.”
Stephan Schippers, Gladbach general manager

"We are deeply moved and affected by the news of Udo Lattek's death. His name is so closely associated with the rise of FC Bayern in the successful 1970s. Udo Lattek was one of Germany's most successful football coaches. As well as this, he was one of the sport's biggest personalities, at home and abroad, for many decades. We have lost one of FC Bayern's true greats, a personal supporter and friend."
Karl Heinz-Rummenigge, now Bayern Munich chairman