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DFB Cup: Meeting of the generations: veteran against young coach

DFB Cup: Meeting of the generations: veteran against young coach

Friedhelm Funkel could be Xabi Alonso’s father. The coach of 1. FC Kaiserslautern is almost 30 years older than the coach of his final opponent. Both have a lot of respect for each other.

It is a meeting of the coaching generations. When Friedhelm Funkel, now 70, first reached the DFB Cup final as a player in May 1981, Xabi Alonso was not even born yet.

The now 42-year-old Basque was born only six months later; today in Berlin they meet as coaches of 1. FC Kaiserslautern and Bayer Leverkusen. The two are also very different in terms of personality and career trajectories.

As a player, Funkel was a hard-working and goal-scoring offensive player, while Alonso was a real midfield strategist. Funkel only won one title in his career as a professional – the first cup final after the permanent move to Berlin in 1985 with the big underdog Bayer Uerdingen against FC Bayern. As a coach, he is still titleless, but he has already been promoted to the Bundesliga six times.

Mutual respect very high

Alonso won 18 trophies as a player, including World Cup, European Championship and Champions League victory twice. As a coach, he brought Leverkusen its first championship in his first full season.

Although – or perhaps because – they are so different, the respect between the two is very great. “For me it is always a great honour to play against a coach with a great history in football,” said Alonso: “I admire these great personalities and have the chance to learn from them.”

Funkel also left no doubt that he values ​​his colleague not only because of his great playing career, but also as a football coach. “He is very authentic, he is simply a good coach. His experience, his charisma – the way he deals with people is simply outstanding, simply fantastic,” said Funkel, who had already committed to Leverkusen as champions in December.

“At that time, I was still a pensioner,” he said with a smile. “I was able to visit the BayArena very often in the first half of the season, and it was simply impressive how this team played football.”

Source: Stern

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