The football world is mourning the loss of one of the greatest club coaches in history after Udo Lattek passed away at the age of 80 in a care home in Cologne last Sunday, although news of his death was not announced until Wednesday. Lattek underwent brain surgery and also suffered two strokes before being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and senile dementia.
Born on 16 January 1935 in East Prussia, Lattek is Germany’s most successful club coach after amassing a haul of 14 trophies, including eight domestic championship titles, six of which were won with Bayern Munich and the other two with Borussia Monchengladbach. With Bayern he also lifted the DFB Pokal three times and the 1974 European Cup, before winning the UEFA Cup with Gladbach in 1979 and the European Cup Winners’ Cup with Barcelona in 1982. Furthermore, Lattek was assistant coach in the Germany national team at the 1966 FIFA World Cup™ in England, where the side finished as runners-up.
In addition to his talents on the touchline, Lattek was known for his linguistic dexterity. FIFA.com pays tribute to the icon with a collection of his finest quotes.
“As a coach you’re really only a dancing bear for the stars.”
“There’s always such a fantastic atmosphere in Cologne’s stadium - the only thing that really spoils it is the team.”
This gem earned Lattek the award for Best Football Quote of the Year from the German Academy of Football Culture in 2010.
“There are some players who start thinking, and they think that they’re only thinking, but they can’t think because they simply can’t put any of it into practice. When players like that start to use their heads then it’s all over.”
On the reshuffling of roles in the Hamburg team after Rafael van der Vaart joined Real Madrid in summer 2008.
“Jurgen Klinsmann can close his eyes and point blindly at anyone: he’ll always find someone who can step in.”
On the Bayern squad and the club’s injury worries in November 2009.
“Schalke need to rethink their transfer policy. I’d much rather buy a caravan than a player in the Netherlands.”
On the below-par performances of Schalke’s new Dutch recruits.
“During the game my daughter asked me why Lionel Messi always had so much room over on the left and wondered whether it might have something to do with him having a contagious disease.”
On the freedom afforded to the Barcelona star in a match against Bayern in spring 2009.
“I’m always suspicious when I see everyone laughing [...] I’ve never seen a player run until he pukes and then still manage to laugh.”
On Bayern players seen laughing in media coverage of the club’s training camp in Dubai.
“They should just turn off the lights, pull on some boxing gloves and then start punching.”
On the row between Schalke president Josef Schnusenberg and then-coach Mirko Slomka in 2008.
“Anyone who knows Uli knows that he’s fit to burst. If someone were to prick him with a pin he’d explode.”
On Uli Hoeness after Bayern’s poor start to the season in 2008.
“In Argentina Diego is as much of an icon as Franz [Beckenbauer], Lothar [Matthaus] and me combined in Germany. But on Saturday he was one thing in particular: eliminated.”
On Diego Maradona - with whom he had had problems while coach at Barcelona - during the 2010 World Cup.
“If I’d remained a teacher I’d have missed my calling. In school you’re surrounded by too many people who don’t put much store in the principle of achievement.”
Prior to his coaching career Lattek was an English and PE teacher.
“It hurts a bit seeing the seven in front of the zero. I don’t have a problem with my age but when people ask me how old I I’ll be and I say 70, then they always say: ‘Oh, 70 already?’”
On the occasion of his 70th birthday ten years ago.
“Sometimes I went into players’ meetings and didn’t have a clue who would be playing on Saturday. Then I looked at their faces and said ‘You’re playing’ to anyone who looked up at me, and ‘you’re not playing’ to anyone who shied away.”
In response to the question of how he always managed to select the right starting line-up.