"I think that the Bayern coach is the second hardest job in Germany after the Chancellor." — Jupp Heynckes
An even harder job might be attempting to chronicle all his impeccable achievements in the world of football. Or, maybe talk about his tactical innovations, striving to make FC Bayern the best. Heynckes can be described as a lot of things: charismatic, genius, bold, humourous, perfectionist, and I can keep going. But to describe him best: he was a serial winner. If you were to find one man that best embodied everything FC Bayern stood for, it would be no other than Jupp himself.
A face so familiar, a name that needs no introduction. FC Bayern's principles have always been rooted so very deep in the art of winning. Jupp did everything in his power, everytime to do his best upholding those very ideals. He's come to the point where his name is synonymous with legend at the club.
Coaches today are radically classified. Defensive, possession based, attacking, etc. But Heynckes wouldn't fall into either of those categories.
Heynckes was always a master of balance. There are many testaments to this statement: every time a team stepped on the pitch under Jupp, the spectators were shown a display of the perfect balance of attacking fluidity and defensive solidity. The fact that many thought our sextuple winning squad of 2020 would fall short against Jupp's 2013 squad was proof: Jupp Heynckes managed to find the formula to perfection. He said it best himself:
"For me, as a coach, it is important to put together a team that not only blends but finds the right balance between defence and offence." — Jupp Heynckes
To talk about Jupp is to talk about 2013. It was, after all, the year he achieved the greatest victory, the treble — the first ever by a German team.
Jupp Heynckes standing next to his treble of trophies in 2013. (Source: FC Bayern)
The greatest showing of this 'formula' came in the semi final tie against Barcelona in our CL winning year. A star studded Barcelona smashing every domestic record proved to be no match for the brilliant Bavarians over both games. Ruthless in attack: 7 goals; and perfect in defence: none conceded. Not a single aspect of the game was sacrificed for another: everything was flawless. Every player was involved, the work rate was off the charts. Everyone was motivated, and they wanted every trophy they could get their hands on. I can go on about the game, because it genuinely was football played to our greatest ability.
Bayern celebrating their goals in their 7-0 win against FC Barcelona in 2013: a show of perfection by Jupp. (Source: Eurosport)
That 2013 team was a mixture of experience, quality, class, a strong mentality and footballing brilliance. It's quite insane that the same players suffered the worst loss of their careers the previous season. Jupp converted the most bitter of losses to a season imprinted as one of the best in our history. It speaks volumes about his mentality and man-management skills: constantly striving to be better and inspiring the the players to do the same.
That team is considered to quite possibly be the greatest FC Bayern team ever, as Franz Beckenbauer said. It led the the way for a decade of domestic domination. Many believe it was down to players such as Lahm, Robben, Ribery, Muller and co. in their prime, but I strongly believe it was down to Jupp. 4-2-3-1 — Bayern's signature formation in recent years stemmed from their success during this era, one might even say it's Jupp's signature formation.
A quick look at the statistics of the era are simply mind boggling. Only 18 goals (the fewest ever) conceded in 34 games, achieving the highest ever point tally in the league (91 points) and becoming the fastest team to win the Bundesliga title (by 6th April!) whilst having the greatest goal difference (+80). Bayern scored in every Bundesliga game that season. Between 2011 and 2013, Jupp managed 109 games: winning 83, drawing 12 and losing just 14. His team managed to score 270 goals in the process and concede only 53.
But, no matter how good of a coach one is, what truly wrote Jupp into the history books is that he always put Bayern first. His retirements were always subject to 'unless FC Bayern need me'. The end of the 2012/13 season set up a perfect farewell for Jupp, he had won everything. He had nothing left to prove. But, when Bayern came calling, he never refused. His comeback to take over for Ancelotti was just as memorable, setting a new Champions League record for most consecutive wins, whilst also managing 22 wins in 26 Bundesliga games.
Jupp Heynckes alongside Uli Honess (Source: alamy)
Uli Hoeneß' respect for Heynckes speaks volumes by itself. Uli never stopped asking him to remain at the club for another season, showing what he meant to the club. He also famously described sacking Jupp four years into his first stint at FC Bayern as 'the worst mistake of my life'. The man who is said to have built FC Bayern is not short of words in admiration of Jupp.
Heynckes is not unfamiliar to success, and that's what made him so perfect for Bayern. He demanded such high levels of perfection and constantly achieved it. Something I have always said is that when Jupp is managing the team, I have complete faith in him. It doesn't matter who he picks or why, Jupp has won my trust to an extent where when he's in charge, the team is safe. Jupp would no longer entertain questions about his team selection, as it's common knowledge: he knows best.
"I always fielded the team that I felt had the greatest chances of success. The personal interests of the individual players must be put aside." — Jupp Heynckes
Jupp Heynckes being lifted into the air after winning the 2013 Champions League. (Source: GOAL)
The images of Jupp on the sidelines commanding his players, or him being launched to the sky by the players after winning the Champions League in 2013 are forever imprinted onto my mind. I don't need to talk about his tactical innovations, or his footballing ideology: everyone is familiar. The name 'Jupp Heynckes' in itself carries everything. A role model for FC Bayern, a role model for football. I was never lucky enough to witness such a great man kicking around a football for I've heard he excelled at that as well, but I was more than lucky to watch the football his teams played.
On 9th May 2023, Jupp Heynckes celebrated his 78th birthday. Here's to many, many more. No fan can thank him for what he's done for the club, but here's me trying. Happy birthday, Jupp. I can't seem to love you enough, you deserve the world.
I want to end this article with a bit from his pre match presser from the game against Augsburg, in the 2017/18 season.
Jupp Heynckes' pre-game conference vs Augsburg in 2017/18. (Source: Twitter @FCBayernEN)
"This morning I went into the lift and then an old, American old couple stepped in. I had an FC Bayern bag on me and the lady asked, quite happily. 'Oh, you're a fan of Bayern Munich?!' I answered: 'Yes, sure!'" he said, looking flustered, laughing.
He had that smile on his face. That playful smile, the smile I grew up watching. I'll never forget that smile.