Both his first name and his last name are among the most common in the German-speaking world, but this Hans Meyer is unique, and not only because the 70-year-old is the only coach to lead a team to domestic cup glory in both the former GDR and today's united Germany.
Something of a cult has grown up around Meyer, mainly due to his witty, acerbic and wry comments. In most interviews, he comes across as an amused and sarcastic observer, without ever forgetting to tell the odd joke about himself. He is a controversial figure, branded a loudmouth by his critics, but that is never going to worry him in the least.
“In football, you very quickly create a legacy for yourself, but you end up piddling all over it just as quickly," Meyer once responded to a word of praise. Like him or loathe him - and most members of the German football family love him – Meyer commands respect. He is a member of the German Academy for Football Culture, who credited him with the footballing quote of the year in 2007: “With awe-inspiring regularity, football is somehow always the same."
Much as he is a big personality and likeable character, Meyer was also a highly successful coach. He won the GDR Cup three times with Carl-Zeiss Jena in 1972, 1974 and 1980, and also led his men to the 1981 European Cup Winners’ Cup final, although Jena lost that match 2-1 to Dynamo Tbilisi in Dusseldorf.
After the collapse of the communist bloc, Meyer initially built up a reputation in the Netherlands, earning rave notices in a spell at the FC Twente helm from 1996 to 1999 for his team’s dashing playing style, before he returned to the German Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach, and then stunningly saved Hertha Berlin from relegation.
In 2007, he led Nurnberg to German Cup glory, before returning to Monchengladbach and saving the fallen giants from relegation. He called time on his coaching career in 2009, and is currently a member of the Borussia executive committee. FIFA.com has assembled a collection of Meyer’s finest quotes.
“After a 2-2 draw, he came to our dressing room wanting to swap shirts. I said to him: ‘You're not getting one. But you'll have thousands of them next season.’ He didn't laugh, so he failed the test - he has no sense of humour."
Asked why Daniel Felgenhauer, his team's opponent that day, ended up not joining Borussia Monchengladbach
“I've now gone down in history as a cup winner in the GDR and in the West. About time too, there aren't that many of us left."
After leading Nurnberg to German cup glory in 2007 against Stuttgart
“We led 1-0 against Tiblisi and lost 2-1. You carry that around with you for the rest of your life, but at the same time it was also the greatest thing I achieved as a coach."
Reflecting on the 1981 European Cup Winners’ Cup final, when Carl-Zeiss Jena lost to Dynamo Tiblisi
“Goalkeeper Jorg Stiel once said I was the best coach he ever had. Later I found out he'd only ever had two."
On a statement by the former Switzerland keeper, who worked under Meyer in Monchengladbach
“My wife ordered me to stop going out into the garden, because I can’t tell a rose from a cauliflower."
Asked why he had returned to coaching after taking a break
“We had to break off training for half an hour because the players were so thrilled. Some even broke into tears."
On signing a contract extension in Monchengladbach
“I can't say for now. Otherwise I'll have a problem when my wife comes to me on Christmas Day with a lovely present of ribbed underwear."
Asked if a draw away to Bayern Munich was the best possible Christmas present
“I can choose the most brilliant tactics, motivate the players as well as possible, and hold perfect training sessions, but if we've lost four in a row, the directors stop saying hello, the squad dissolves into cliques, seething discontent breaks out around the club, and when everyone starts blaming everyone else, none of a coach’s abilities can help. Only a win helps."
On coaching a team through a dismal spell
“It was such a clear result, so I couldn’t have rigged the vote if I’d wanted to. But if it had come out the complete opposite to what I wanted, I'd have said it was only a test run."
On his squad electing Tomas Galasek, one of Meyer’s favourites, as Nurnberg captain
“I guess we won't surrender top spot after this."
After Nurnberg’s shock 3-0 Bundesliga opening day victory over Stuttgart, sending his team to the top of the embryonic standings
“If you're trying to put a halo on my head, I'll rip it off again at once."
On his ability to gauge a mood
“I'll never be old enough to get over all the surprises football has in store for you."
Reflecting on a long and successful career