By Oliver Trust
Hansi Flick’s breathtaking rise to a legendary coach is one of those enchanting stories only football can deliver.
Within 10 months, the 55-year-old has developed into a significant figure on the international stage. A year ago, Flick was a nobody in international football.
Leading Bayern Munich to only its second treble win by beating Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 makes him one of only six coaches in history to have won the Champions League along with domestic league and cup.
Who would have expected him to be mentioned among illustrious names such as Luis Enrique, Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jupp Heynckes that quickly?
The late bloomer was 54 when he took over as head coach at Bayern. Before that, the former Bayern midfielder was seen as the perfect man in the background.
When Germany won the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Flick was one of national coach Joachim Low’s coaching staff, whose only experience as a head coach was with Hoffenheim in Germany’s third tier.
Flick initiated essential changes around the national team to set up a well-oiled system for talent scouting. However, the former sports store owner was never seen as a top-line coach.
Last summer, Flick joined Bayern as one of several assistants to his predecessor Niko Kovac.
In August 2020, his players seem to run out of superlatives for his achievement.
“It’s the coach who does all this. He is the man making the final decisions. He is the man deciding the team’s and the club’s well-being,” Bayern striker Thomas Muller said.
The statements of Bayern’s Champions League heroes might provide the missing chapters of a fairytale story.
“To win a title like that with a bunch of brothers is a feeling you won’t find words for,” Joshua Kimmich commented.
Muller added: “Every single one of us is battling to be the one making up for a teammate’s mistake. I have never experienced a team spirit like that.”
“We’ve never had the same amount of fun playing football,” goalkeeper Manuel Neuer stated. Both Muller and Neuer were part of Bayern’s previous treble-winning side from 2013.
Taking a closer look at Flick, one sees someone with fierce ambition, a savvy networker, and a power seeker.
Flick does the job his way. He not only established a perfect tactical frame “we have been waiting for a long time,” as Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge reported.
Flick seems to get deep into the heart of his players. “He doesn’t only see us as the players he needs to play his system, but he always sees the human behind the player,” Kimmich underlined.
Flick is described as down to earth but far from naive. He has turned into a healer for a club, which has not always made successful decisions regarding its coaches.
The Bayern coach never overexposes himself. After the Lisbon victory, he spoke about his team’s achievements without mentioning his contribution. Many now see Bayern at the doorstep to a golden era.
Pundits see parts of Heynckes in his work coming back to life. Others feel reminded of tactical genius Guardiola or Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp.
Being the one that could watch from the shadows for years, Flick might have been the most underestimated coach.
Following after Kovac, Flick had to fight for his chance, as he was initially seen as an interim solution.
“He made the ship go at full speed again. He is a stroke of luck for us,” Rummenigge said.