DFB Cup final: Funkel says “thank you and goodbye” – but it doesn’t quite work

DFB Cup final: Funkel says “thank you and goodbye” – but it doesn’t quite work

Even fans from Leverkusen applauded Friedhelm Funkel after the performance of outsider Kaiserslautern in the cup final. The 70-year-old also gave FCK some advice.

Another “thank you and goodbye” – then Friedhelm Funkel was gone and out of football. Perhaps not forever, because this cup final in Berlin visibly upset the otherwise rather stoic and pragmatic old coach.

“I need a break now. When I’ve recovered and have regained my strength, I won’t rule out doing something again,” said Funkel. His job at 1. FC Kaiserslautern has demanded everything from the 70-year-old in recent months, as has his team Bayer Leverkusen in the German champions’ 1-0 win.

“The team brought everything they had onto the pitch. We defended with a lot of heart,” praised Funkel. The underdog from the second division played with a numerical advantage for one half after Odilon Kossounou received a yellow-red card, but was unable to capitalize on this. Funkel had been able to save the Palatinate team from falling into the third division. He was unable to make up the deficit himself with a goal from Granit Xhaka (16th minute) because he was no longer on the pitch with Bayer Uerdingen as he was 39 years ago in the final. Back then, he helped beat FC Bayern Munich 2-1.

Funkel does not notice applause

Funkel missed out on victory in his third DFB Cup final as a coach. Nevertheless, the FCK fans celebrated their “best man” with songs. Before the award ceremony, the stadium announcer called on the spectators to give a “warm round of applause for the coaching legend Friedhelm Funkel” – even the Leverkusen fans clapped.

“That is very, very unusual. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice it,” said Funkel when asked about it later at the press conference. The specialist in second division championships and preventing Bundesliga relegations would have loved to pack everything from that evening into a big box and take it with him: all the emotions, the will of his players, the power of the FCK fans, maybe even a golden snippet from the award ceremony and a few blades of grass.

The old trainer is keen to continue

“I have absorbed the whole event here around the game. It was an incredible feeling for us to be celebrated in front of the curve. It just makes you want more,” said Funkel. In the first interviews after the final whistle in front of 74,322 spectators in the Olympic Stadium, he had already confirmed: “I would like to carry on again at some point.”

Funkel will not be continuing at Betzenberg, as those in charge announced a week ago. He indirectly confirmed that the Neuss native has often rubbed people the wrong way with his direct manner: He hopes those in charge “can hire a coach who suits this club, who is a bit stubborn. Who has his own opinion, who also enforces and implements this opinion in his work with the team.”

Hengen’s croaking comment

And one should just be patient with a coach, Funkel said. He himself would never have experienced this memorable evening on the bench if FCK had not already kicked Dirk Schuster and Dimitrios Grammozis out earlier this season. Talks about Funkel’s successor are ongoing, said Thomas Hengen.

The manager almost lost his voice in the grueling finale. He is not said to have the best relationship with Funkel. His croaking commentary included praise for the team, but was otherwise not uncritical after a splendid, if unlucky, performance by a previously not even average second division team: “We played a bit too cautiously, there was more in it,” said Hengen, referring to the numerical advantage after the break. “We would have liked to have taken a bit more risk.”

Source: Stern

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