Berlin (AFP) – Jupp Heynckes plans to down his ex-club Real Madrid in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final, first leg, and take the next step to leaving Bayern Munich with another treble.
Heynckes, 72, has already won the Champions League as head coach of both clubs.
He steered Real to the title in 1998, then Bayern in 2013, a season the Germans finished with a treble.
At an age when his contemporaries are busy playing bingo and looking after the grandkids, Heynckes is relishing a high-pressure European showdown.
“It’s a cracker – a gigantic meeting in a positive sense,” said Heynckes.
“These are two teams with a great tradition in European football, who play and love attractive football. It’s a difficult draw for both sides.”
Bayern are the only club left in the Champions League who can still win a treble.
They wrapped up a sixth straight Bundesliga title three weeks ago and will face Eintracht Frankfurt in the German Cup final on May 19.
If Bayern lift the Champions League trophy in Kiev on May 26, Heynckes, who turns 73 on May 9, will make history as the oldest coach to win the European Cup.
He would eclipse the record of 71 years, 231 days set by Raymond Goethals when Marseille won the Champions League in Munich in 1993.
And winning the trophy for the third time would be his perfect parting gift to Bayern, before Niko Kovac takes over as coach for next season.
– Record-breaker –
Heynckes already set a new Champions League record in the quarter-finals.
Bayern’s 2-1 first-leg win at Sevilla was his 12th straight victory as coach in the competition, a run that dated back to his previous spell in charge in 2012/13.
Only Louis van Gaal, with Barcelona and Bayern, and Carlo Ancelotti, at Real Madrid, had managed double figures.
Regardless of the result against Real, Heynckes has shown his class in turning Bayern’s fortunes around since he returned for a fourth stint at the club in October.
He replaced Ancelotti, who was sacked after a 3-0 drubbing at Paris Saint-Germain in the group stage.
It was a gamble by Bayern to turn to him, but club chiefs Uli Hoeness and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge needed a replacement who already knew the club and had a proven track record.
Yet, tending the garden and walking his dog Cando had been Heynckes’s main tasks in the four years since he last quit Bayern.
He had quit all football after winning the treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup in 2013, being replaced by Pep Guardiola.
When Heynckes returned on a deal until the end of the season, Bayern were five points adrift of then-leaders Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.
Discipline was tightened, training was intense and playing time was distributed evenly amongst a star-studded squad.
The effect was immediate as Bayern won 23 of their next 24 games.
“You have to look back to last October, we did not think we were going to be champions with five games to spare and to be semi-finalists (in Europe),” said Heynckes.
“I feel like I’ve reached (the players). We work together as hard as we can and without selfishness.”
Despite his stunning achievements with Bayern this season, Heynckes remains humble.
“I got into the lift this morning in my hotel with an old couple,” he said recently.
“I was holding a Bayern Munich bag, so the lady asked ‘oh, are you a Bayern Munich fan?’ — ‘Yes, sure’, I replied.”
Not being recognised was no problem, but Heynckes poked fun at ex-Bayern midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, who now plays for Chicago Fire.
“They were definitely American, even though Schweinsteiger had told me, ‘oh boss, everyone knows you here (in America)’.
“They definitely don’t,” Heynckes said with a grin.