Jupp Heynckes has announced that he will retire after having won the treble with Bayern Munich this season – Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup. Thus, he has been ruled out as Jose Mourinho’s successor in the Real Madrid dugout having been previously linked with the manager’s job in recent weeks.
Couriously enough, the German coach had already sat on the Bernabeu’s bench. It was in the season 1997/98, when he arrived at Chamartin to replace Fabio Capello, who had won the league at the first attempt with Los Merengues.
Heynckes arrived with a growing reputation thanks to his good work at Tenerife. He had steered the Canaries to qualification to the UEFA Cup in 1995/96, leaving Real out of European competitions, and made the club shine in Europe, reaching the semifinals of the competition against Schalke 04, the winners of the trophy, who eliminated the Spanish club in extra-time.
Heynckes’ started at Real Madrid started brilliantly, with a title and humiliating their historical rivals Barcelona. Los Blancos won the Supercopa hammering Barça 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
However, the impressive form did not last, and Los Blancos did not have a good La Liga performance. They finished fourth, in a time when only the first two teams would qualify for the Champions League.
Things weren’t much better in the Copa del Rey, as Real was knocked out in the first round by Alaves, a third division club at that time.
However, in the Champions League everything was very different. Real Madrid showed an undeniable authority from the first to the last game, and won the European Cup 32 years after his last trophy.
Los Blancos fulfilled their obsession of conquering La Septima after beating Juventus 1-0 at Amsterdam Arena. After having won the most awaited title by the fans and taking in account that Heynckes still had one year left on his contract with Real, it looked like his continuity at Bernabeu was ensured.
But it wasn’t like that, as Los Blancos’ directors never really trusted the German. “It must be the first time in history that a manager is asked if he is going to continue just a few minutes after winning the Champions League”, he pointed out ironically in the press conference after the match.
Heynckes dissmissed after winning the Champions League
Thus, on May 28th 1998, Heynckes worst expectations were confirmed: the president of Real Madrid, Lorenzo Sanz, announced that the German would not continue in the club. “I can’t allow that one match and one goal change the future of Real Madrid”, he said.
Sanz justified his decision with the bad season the team had had. “Hadn’t we won that title, this would have been one of the worst seasons in our history, not even qualifying for the Champions League. Heynckes had a lot of preassure from outside and that he couldn’t handle it”, he said.
The day after, Heynckes, who had rejected the offer to stay as sports director, appeared very disappointed: “If I had told the president during the pre-season that we would win the Champions League, he would have extended my contract for five years”.
Heynckes fired a parting shot against the directors: “I have not been backed by the board. In the last four months I have worked under conditions that any other coach wouldn’t have managed. I could overcome thanks to my experience”.
Seeing Heynckes success with Bayern Munich, many at Santiago Bernabeu wonder today whether the club was unfair to get rid of the German and whether he should have been given more trust to continue his job at Real Madrid.