Jupp Heynckes needs no introduction. The former Bayern Munich manager is one of the most well decorated, well respected figures in world football, let alone the Bundesliga. He turns 75 this weekend and AZ recently interviewed his former assistant, Peter Hermann, was asked about his time working with Heynckes. Hermann was Heynckes’s assistant for the treble-winning season in 2012/2013 as well as Heyncke’s tenure during the 2017/2018 season after Carlo Ancelotti was sacked. Niko Kovac tried to convince Hermann to stay on the coaching staff after last season’s domestic double, but Hermann decided to retired, as he had initially planned.
Hermann and Heynckes didn’t work together until late in life. Hermann was Heyncke’s assistant manager at Bayer Leverkusen from 2009-2011, and he said that their relationship there was solid: “It was late, but fortunately for me not too late. (Laughs.) Our collaboration was already good in Leverkusen. One time we were fourth, and then in the next year in contention for the championship. But that’s Leverkusen; we couldn’t change anything about that either.” In the 2010-2011 season, Leverkusen challenged Borussia Dortmund for the Bundesliga title, but Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund wound up winning by 7 points.
Their strong relationship carried right over to their first tenure together at Bayern. In the 2011/2012 season, Bayern finished second behind Dortmund in the Bundesliga, lost to Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal final, and lost to Chelsea in the Champions League final, but then went on to secure the historic treble the next season. With the squad Bayern had at the time, Hermann said it was amazing to have won the treble the year after finishing second in every competition: “I really have to tip my cap [to Heynckes]. After the year before, in which we were only second in the Bundesliga and then also lost the Pokal and the Champions League final, that was something special. To finish only second in all three competitions, I knew that only from my time in Leverkusen. But for our leading players like Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, or Arjen Robben it was bad. I was very happy for them that we then won the treble.”
As good a player and manager Heynckes was, Hermann also revealed how good a man he was, too, off and on the pitch. Getting to know Heynckes on a personnel level is something Hermann greatly cherishes.
Hermann referenced a story from the time when his mother passed away during one of Bayern’s winter training camps in Doha, Qatar: “I am incredibly happy to have gotten to know him as a person. There were things he did, I really have to tip my cap to him. Once we were with Bayern in the training camp in Qatar and my mother passed away during this time. I had left a day before and suddenly there was Jupp Heynckes standing at my mother’s grave. I never would have expected that, because it was a lot of trouble for him — from Qatar to Cologne via Munich by plane and then further with a taxi. The funeral was in at our home in Westerwald, so not exactly right around the corner. I will never forget this act. That shows his great humanity.”
Most importantly for his managerial success, Hermann said that Heynckes had a distinct way to always make everyone feel like they had done a good job and that they were highly regarded by him: “Jupp gives everyone the feeling that he esteems them very highly, that he has confidence in them, when they do good work. He not only won over the players, but also always the entire supporting staff. Jupp can even motivate the groundskeeper. His leadership abilities are outstanding.”
Despite having worked with some world-class managers throughout his career, Hermann regards his time working with Heynckes as the most important. Working at Bayern has been a dream come true for him and Heynckes bringing him back in 2017 was something he’s incredibly grateful for: “Undoubtedly the time with Jupp was one of the most important times in my life. I would have never come to Munich otherwise. Working at Bayern is something very special; many people dream about it all their lives. The fact that he took me along then, that was also a distinction for me. I’m very grateful to him for that.”