It’s official: Otto Rehagel has agreed to become the new head coach of Hertha BSC. He was in the stands watching as Berlin went down to Dortmund, probably one of their better efforts in the last few weeks. The generally incompetant Hertha directors have finally pulled a rabbit out of the hat. The only question is whether – at 73 years old – “King Otto” still has the energy. (And if he does, he usually maneuvers himself into a dictatorship role and boots out the board…)
The some extent, this is a coming home. Rehagel started his professional playing career with Rot-Weiss Essen, but in 1963 joined Hertha BSC and played in the very first Bundesliga round. Much of his career as a player and coach has been in the league, and he’s often called himself a “child of the Bundesliga.” He was known as a tough defender in his career (mostly with Kaiserslautern).
After hanging up his boots in 1972, he bounced around coaching, basically unsuccessfully. (Indeed, the “highlight” of his stay at Dortmund in the mid 1970s was the 0-12 loss to Gladbach). However in 1981, he took over the reins at Werder Bremen, and in his 14 year stay moved Bremen from a struggling crap relegation candidate to a power. His Bremen sides were known for attacking football, and he won the Bundesliga twice, the DFB Cup twice, and the UEFA Cup. He then moved sensationally to the enemy, Bayern München. Here he had no real success, as he feuded with players and management and got himself fired just before the Chamipons League victory. But Rehagel might have set the stage for his growing legend by taking over relegated Kaiserslautern, marching them through the 2.Liga, and on promotion, sensationally winning the Bundesliga title in 1998. More feuds led to him leaving and “retiring”.
Rehagel then served up his piece-de-resistance: he took over the crap Greek national team and won the Euro 2004 tournament, one of the biggest shocks in the history of football. It was a negative, defensive side – just the opposite of his glory Bremen days – but Rehagel adjusted to the talent he had. In 2010, he suprised again, bringing Greece to the World Cup, where they actually won their first game ever (or first goal for that matter). He’s a legend in Greece, probably the only popular German in these days of Euro-crisis.
So does Rehagel save Hertha BSC? His record is pretty good, so the only question is whether he’s too old. But he still looks like he can kick ass like he did as a player over 40 years ago, so maybe…