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Friday, January 11, 2008
Klinsmann to replace Hitzfeld on July 1

MUNICH, Germany -- Juergen Klinsmann, who turned down the chance to become coach of the U.S. soccer team 13 months ago, agreed Friday to take over as coach of Bayern Munich on July 1.

"I had other options but this was by far the best opportunity I got," said the 43-year-old former German star forward, who will replace Ottmar Hitzfeld. "It's a huge honor, and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to coach Bayern. It's the No. 1 club in the country. It's a privilege. I knew that at some point I would return to coaching. Bayern is one of the six, eight top teams in the world. That's what makes it fun."

Klinsmann led Germany to a third-place finish when his nation hosted the 2006 World Cup, then quit and returned to his home in the Los Angeles area. Even while coaching the German national team, he commuted to Europe from California, where he lives with his American wife and children.

"Our 10-year-old son Jonathan was born here and I have close family ties to Germany," said Klinsmann, who was born near Stuttgart and whose mother still works in the family bakery there.

Klinsmann, who played for Bayern from 1995-97, said he will build his own staff that will include Americans and other international experts.

Bayern officials, including president Franz Beckenbauer and chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, criticized Klinsmann when he was in charge of Germany. Rummenigge said Friday the club hired "absolutely the coach we wanted" and that Klinsmann had been the unanimous choice.

General manager Uli Hoeness said the idea came from Rummenigge and that Klinsmann accepted the offer after thinking about it for one night.

"He is a maverick. We wanted a man who has strong opinions, who looks for new ways and who can approach young people,"' Hoeness said. "We are proud and curious, and we are pleased he chose us, because he had other offer."

Beckenbauer, who coached Germany to the 1990 World Cup title with Klinsmann as a key forward, called the appointment "somewhat courageous but clever."

"He introduced new methods. He brings some experience from the United States," Beckenbauer said.

While playing for Bayern, Klinsmann won a Bundesliga title and the UEFA Cup. He also played for Stuttgart, Inter Milan, Tottenham and Monaco, and scored 47 goals in 108 games for Germany.

Bayern isn't in this season's Champions League but advance to the third round of the UEFA Cup. It is 10-1-6 in the Bundesliga, first ahead of Werder Bremen on goal difference at the winter break.




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