Der General aims for glorious WC exit

May 16, 2014 - 7:03 AM "Der General" Ottmar Hitzfeld will step down at the end of the World Cup after almost 30 years as a coach and more than 40 years in football.

Having led Switzerland at a World Cup for the second time, Hitzfeld will move away from the game he loves with his legacy assured as one of the most successful European, coaches of all time.

One of only four coaches to win the Champions League with two different clubs, Hitzfeld also has seven German league titles, two Swiss titles, three German cups and three Swiss cups to remember from a remarkable 30-year coaching career.

Add to that two Swiss titles and a Swiss cup as a player and Hitzfeld's trophy cabinet is perhaps surpassed only by the great Alex Ferguson.

One feature of the trained mathematician's career is that while Germany is his homeland, Switzerland has always been close to his heart.

He played most of his career in Switzerland with Basel, Lugano and Luzern and it was in that country that he had his first break in management, taking over the reins at Zug and Aarau before making his name at Grasshoppers.

Such was his success there that he caught the eye of Borussia Dortmund and guided them to two league titles and the Champions League.

Somewhat inevitably, the powerhouses of German football came calling and in 1998 Hitzfeld was lured to Bayern Munich for a six-year spell that garnered an incredible four titles and a second Champions League crown.

He took three years off from the game before re-emerging at Bayern to winning the title again and walking away from the job to take charge of the Swiss national team.

There he has built a consistent if unspectacular team based around Bayern Munich winger Xherdan Shaqiri and Napoli midfielders Gokhan Inler, Valon Behrami and Blerim Dzemaili.

Switzerland went through qualifying unbeaten, but in a relatively weak group in which Iceland finished second.

Yet they will be hoping to take advantage of one of the weaker groups at the World Cup in Brazil where Switzerland will face France, Ecuador and Honduras for a place in the knock-out phases.

It means Hitzfeld can realistically aim to make history with Switzerland before stepping aside at the end of the tournament to let Bosnian Vladimir Petkovic, who was sacked by Lazio in January, take over.

Switzerland have reached the World Cup quarter finals three times, twice in the 1930s and most recently on home soil in 1954.

Source: AAP

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