Carlo Ancelotti was hailed as “Mr. Champions League” when he succeeded Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich in 2016. However, his successor, Jupp Heynckes, can boast an equally proud record in the competition and has his sights set on extending an incredible run of reaching the Champions League final at every attempt when Bayern face Turkish champions Besiktas in the round of 16.
Here’s a look at three of the magisterial 72-year-old’s biggest games in the competition.
1998 Champions League Final — Real Madrid 1, Juventus 0 — Amsterdam Arena
Younger readers might not be aware that 20 years ago, Heynckes managed Real Madrid. In 1998, he led them to their seventh Champions League title — their first in 32 years — with a narrow victory over favourites Juventus, who were appearing in a third straight final.
Already christened “Don Jupp,” Heynckes used his vast Bundesliga experience, getting the job done against Bayer Leverkusen in the quarterfinals and Borussia Dortmund in the semifinals en route to the final. It was the first Champions League campaign to include domestic runners-up, with Germany boasting three teams in the competition, including holders Dortmund.
Predrag Mijatovic’s decisive goal sealed a surprise win against a Juventus side made up of a “Who’s Who” of world football — Zinedine Zidane, Alessandro Del Piero and Edgar Davids to name but a few — while Chelsea boss Antonio Conte came on as a late sub in midfield for Zidane’s watercarrier Didier Deschamps but to no avail.
Going into the game, Heynckes’ job was under serious threat after languishing in fourth behind Barcelona in La Liga and an embarrassing Copa del Rey exit to second-division Alaves.
Heynckes had lost the dressing room, including Raul, Fernando Morientes and Mijatovic, the Ballon d’Or runner-up. Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz later revealed that “the players ate him alive.”
With that backdrop, the against-the-odds win didn’t prevent the first question to Heynckes at the postmatch news conference from being about whether he would be Madrid’s coach the following season. He replied tersely that it was only in Madrid that a coach would have to answer that question immediately after lifting the European Cup.
“Heynckes put the clock back to zero,” said captain Manuel Sanchis, whose father had been a member of the last Madrid side to win the European Cup in 1966.
Rather inevitably, the surprise Champions League win was not enough to save Heynckes at the end of the season. He was sacked eight days later, and his successor, Jose Antonio Camacho, lasted 22 days — followed by Guus Hiddink, who did a little better with seven months on the Madrid merry-go-round.
Madrid have gone on to become serial Champions League winners, but none of this would have been possible without the unheralded Heynckes’ impact in 1998.
2012 Champions League Final — Bayern Munich 1, Chelsea 1 a.e.t. (Chelsea won on 4-3 on penalties) — Allianz Arena, Munich
This was a painful experience for Heynckes. The “Finale dahoam” (home final) turned into more of a “fiasco dahoam” as Bayern lost excruciatingly on penalties to Roberto di Matteo’s somewhat undervalued side in 2012.
Heynckes’ side had seen off former employer Real Madrid on penalties in the semifinal to seal a final place in their own backyard. Let’s not beat around the bush — Bayern blew it, squandering three match points: throwing away a lead in the final minutes; Arjen Robben’s tame extra-time back pass — sorry, missed penalty — and then coming out second-best in the penalty lottery. Here the likes of Toni Kroos, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Robben all declined to take spot kicks, as Bayern let slip a 3-1 shootout lead given to them by Manuel Neuer of all people.
In the lead-up to Didier Drogba’s shock equaliser, Heynckes was criticised for removing goalscorer Thomas Muller just a couple of minutes after his bouncing header past Petr Cech. The 23-year-old Bavarian certainly seemed fit enough to jump around wildly in celebration before being mobbed by jubilant teammates after his 83rd-minute goal finally broke the deadlock.
During the miserable post mortem, Muller’s hauling off was attributed to a long-standing calf injury. However, he had gone into the game with the injury, playing through the pain barrier for weeks. He had complained long before the goal and Heynckes hadn’t taken him off. So why react now? Chelsea carried little threat — the game was done and dusted. In reality, hadn’t Heynckes sacrificed his goalscorer to afford him a standing ovation in recognition of his “winning” goal in front of the adoring home faithful?
However, Muller’s substitution brutally backfired when burly Belgian defender Daniel van Buyten entered the fray on 85 minutes. Defensive reorganisation was required, but this failed to transpire when the English side were awarded their only corner of the match. Drogba was allowed the freedom of Munich to thunder a bullet header past the helpless Neuer. Jerome Boateng was the scapegoat in many people’s eyes for not getting tight enough to Drogba, but surely the idea of bringing on Van Buyten was to “double team” Drogba for the remaining minutes — especially from set pieces?
How fickle the footballing fates are. The history books would not show Robben’s timid extra-time penalty miss — and “The Flying Dutchman” would not have been booed a few days later in the Allianz Arena when he played for the Netherlands in a Euro 2012 warm-up match. A spirited Chelsea side seized their only genuine chance of the match, emphatically punishing Bayern for a momentary lapse in discipline.
“[The defeat in] 1999 was incredibly hard to take, but tonight is even sadder, more brutal and more unnecessary,” said a disconsolate CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge at a very sombre postmatch function. President Uli Hoeness echoed the sentiment: “It’s madness, really cruel,” while sporting director Christian Nerlinger called it “a total nightmare, like a really bad film.”
2013 Champions League Final — Bayern Munich 2, Borussia Dortmund 1 — Wembley Stadium, London
The biggest game in recent memory came in the all-German Champions League final at Wembley in 2013 — otherwise known as “El Teutonico.”
Heynckes pitted his wits against young upstart Jurgen Klopp and a Dortmund side that included Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gundogan, Marco Reus and Robert Lewandowski.
Dortmund enjoyed the better of a goalless first half, with Neuer producing a string of fine saves to keep his side on level terms. However, in the second period, Heynckes’ record signing Javi Martinez and stalwart Bastian Schweinsteiger gradually got a grip on the game in midfield. Underrated workhorse Mario Mandzukic put Bayern ahead on the hour mark after brilliant work from Robben from the by-line. However, Gundogan equalised from the penalty spot eight minutes later after a clumsy foul in the box on Reus by Dante.
With extra time looming in one of the most entertaining finals in recent memory, up popped Robben with an 89th-minute winner — and redemption for his dreadful penalty miss against Chelsea the previous year.
After wrapping up their second Champions League title at the home of football, Heynckes slipped quietly into retirement (or so we thought) after sealing an historic treble with a DFB Pokal final success over Stuttgart a week later in Berlin — leaving his successor, Guardiola, with an almost impossible act to follow.
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.