MUNICH: Jupp Heynckes will bring his European champions back down to earth on the training ground tomorrow.
Beating Borussia Dortmund at Wembley was merely the second leg of the treble. Part Three is the German cup final on Saturday. Only then, after his last game as boss before handing over to Pep Guardiola, will Heynckes let down his professional guard.
Heynckes is a terrific professional, a ‘real’ football man. That means he is a competitor. Nothing would give him more professional pleasure than to end the season in competitive perfection – and set Guardiola an almost insoluble challenge.
In the Wembley aftermath the former West Germany winger conceded that his players “need to let off steam, have a party.” But then: “From Tuesday we will be preparing again for the cup final and I think we will be as successful as we have been so far.”
The story of that success unfolded in his post-match post-mortem:
Do you regret having to hand over Bayern to another coach now, after such a remarkable season?
In the German media everything has been presented that way but, in fact, it was after the last Champions League Final against Chelsea that I took my own personal decision to complete my contract and finish after this season.
Looking back I have to say that what we have achieved so far – because it isn’t over yet – the season has been an outstanding one for FC Bayern.
In the history of the Bundesliga no team has played have played such a consistent season at such a high level with a winning margin of 25 points and breaking almost all the records possible.
In this final you cold see my team were determined to win because it was absolutely clear that for this generation – players like Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben – the time had come to win something big like this.
These are players who have a lot of caps and won national titles but in the international framework it’s been the first one for them.
But it a special victory for Arjen Robben, after missing a penalty last year, wasn’t it?
I am particularly pleased for Arjen because last year we were all tragic figures, not just Arjen. In the last few weeks I have been very aware of Arjen. I’ve been very conscious of how I should work with him in training, taking care of his fitness.
He played a very good game. Even in the first half he had a couple of good opportunities. The day before the final I was talking to him in training and I said: ‘You’re in really good form and tomorrow that will be one of the crucial factors.’
How did you see the pattern of the game?
It was a match in difficult circumstances because Dortmund are awkward to play against and because it was a German derby.
As coach you do your job up to the kickoff and then it’s up to the team. We have a super coaching team but after we’ve done our job then it is up to the players to take centre stage and do their job. Without such top-class players you can’t celebrate as we have this season.
We didn’t find our feet at first. Compliments to Borussia who played excellently in the first stage of the game. We didn’t find our rhythm and it was a difficult start but, before the break, with Robben, we had two good opportunities.
After half-time we played better and took command of the game. We played further forward and made more opportunities. It was because of the second half that we deserved to win.
What has been your secret this season?
From the outset of the season we have been changing things, improving things, adapting things.
We have a unique team spirit, with an ability to work together which I have never experienced before. We have 22 or 23 first-class professionals all perfectly capable of playing in the first team and all of them pulled their weight.
The players all get on very well. Not one of them fell by the wayside or was disappointed and when you have such high calibre players that’s pretty incredible.
How well does it reflect on Germany football that the final was of such high quality?
It was a very intensive match from both teams. They went for it, both fought hard and both teams are tactically of a very high standard. Big compliment to Borussia because this year they have had a top-class Champions League season. Also, of course, over the last two years they have won other titles.
I understand the disappointment of Jurgen Klopp’s team on losing a Champions League Final but, over the career of a professional footballer or coach, there are always ups and down.
There are wonderful events, titles to win. There are also disappointments and you can draw strength from that. I’m sure they will. Just like us after losing the final last year. We didn’t resign ourselves, we upped the ante and tried even harder and you’ve seen the result.
How does this Champions League compare with your first, with Real Madrid, in 1998?
I had a lot of success as a player but as a coach it’s a lot more difficult because you have to lead a team and be very sensitive with high calibre footballers.
Today, given the environment, the media, the expectations, it’s incredibly difficult so it makes me delighted that we have such a well-functioning team.
It’s a highlight personally to win the Champions League for a second time or even to have had three attempts and to have won twice. It’s not something that happens to everyone.
No club have ever won the Champions League two years in a row. Do you think this victory was the start of a period of domination of Europe by Bayern as in the mid-1970s?
One has to be cautious about this. My successor, of course, will take over a perfectly functioning team and as far as I know Mario Gotze will be joining us and I don’t think Robert Lewandowski will be hanging about too much.
You’ve also got two top attackers already as well in Ribery and Robben and you’ve seen how Karl-Heinz Rummenigge played a big part last summer in completing the team with a risky tranfers of Javi Martinez – in terms of the sum, not the quality of the player – and Shaqiri and Dante – all players who have been great successes.
It’s possible that a new era in Europe might have begun under FC Bayern Munchen.