Whether it’s King Otto or Rehakles, the nicknames betray the global football community’s huge fondness and deep respect for seasoned coach Otto Rehhagel. The 70-year-old has collected trophies and personal accolades galore, and rates as one of the most successful coaches ever to emerge from Germany.
After leading Greece to a stunning triumph at UEFA EURO 2004, he became the first foreigner ever to be named 'Greek of the Year'. He was hailed as World National Coach of the Year later in 2004, and was awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit in 2005. He also won the Laureus World Sports Award in the same year. Yet despite the fame and honours, Rehhagel has always remained true to his straight-talking principles, seldom giving way once his mind was made up.
In an age where coaches come and go at the drop of a hat, King Otto’s tenure at Bundesliga giants Werder Bremen truly rates as an era. Rehhagel spent 14 seasons at the Bremen helm between 1981 and 1995, shaping the men in green and white into a powerful force and winning the league (1988, 1993), the German Cup (1991, 1994), the Supercup (1988, 1993, 1994) and the UEFA European Cup Winners’ Cup (1992). He went on to coach Bayern Munich and Kaiserslautern, before taking charge of Greek fortunes in 2001, leading to the crowning glory in Portugal three years later.
In the second instalment of a new FIFA.com monthly series, we review the wittiest and most controversial quotes of the coaching veteran, who has now spent quarter of a century gesticulating and cajoling his teams from the touchline. Read and enjoy some of the gems Otto Rehhagel has provided us with.
"Everyone’s free to say what I want."
Rehhagel on his attitude to criticism
"Verbals haven’t won a game yet."
Rehhagel on pre-match jibes issued by an opposing coach
"I told the lads: don’t be too afraid if Thierry Henry appears in your dreams at night."
Rehhagel ahead of a quarter-final meeting with France at UEFA EURO 2004
"I want to know the aftershave used by every player in Europe."
Rehhagel on getting his players to stick to their men
"Saving easy shots is easy. Saving difficult shots is always difficult."
Rehhagel on goalkeeping
"Some you lose, and some are won by your opponents."
Rehhagel after a bitter defeat
"If you finish first, you’re in the right. So I’m in the right. You can speak to me again when I finish fifth."
Rehhagel to a reporter unconvinced by success
"We play our best football when there’s no opposition."
Rehhagel asked how he would return a team to winning ways
"The truth is out there on the field."
Rehhagel answering criticism of his defensive tactics
"Football is like maths, two plus two makes four. If you reckon two plus two makes five, you lose."
Rehhagel attempting to explain football
"If I lose a couple of matches, the people who were throwing flowers at me suddenly throw the pots as well."
Rehhagel asked what would happen if a losing streak continued
"In the past, they all did as they pleased. Now, they all do what they can."
Rehhagel on the secret of his success with Greece
"I started thinking about the Swedes back in 1958, when Pele scored his first goal."
Rehhagel on opening day opponents Sweden at UEFA EURO 2008
"I need players who are better with the ball than with a microphone."
Rehhagel on media interest in his players