Behind Enemy Lines: Trap's German connection

The Ireland manager has had three spells in the Bundesliga down through the years.

Trapattoni speaks to Markus Babbel and Thomas Hitzlsperger at Stuttgart.
Trapattoni speaks to Markus Babbel and Thomas Hitzlsperger at Stuttgart.
Image: DANIEL MAURER/AP/Press Association Images

THE ODDS MAY be heavily stacked against Ireland for Friday night’s qualifier, but in Giovanni Trapattoni, we do possess a manager who has more experience of German football than most.

The Italian, who has won league titles in four different countries across Europe, spent three stints in the Bundesliga – twice with Bayern Munich during the 90s before a short spell at Stuttgart in 2005/06.

He has always admired the quality of player produced by the three-time World Cup winners, however. In 1986, Trapattoni departed Juventus, where he had captured league titles, domestic cups and the European Cup, for Internazionale.

Serie A was, at the time, arguably the strongest league in world football, which allowed him to entice German internationals Lothar Matthaus, then later Andreas Brehme and Jurgen Klinsmann, into joining his project in Milan. The trio became hugely popular at their new club and were instrumental in the Nerazzuri’s league (1988/89) and UEFA Cup (1990/91) triumphs.

He would go on to link up a number of times with former World Footballer of the Year Matthaus in the future – at Bayern Munich and during his time in charge of Red Bull Salzburg.


Matthaus, Trap, Brehme and Klinsmann. Credit: Tumblr (bundesligaclassic)

After returning to Juve, Trapattoni eyed a new challenge abroad and in 1994 took over the reigns at Bayern Munich. An undoubtedly talented squad which included names like Matthaus, Oliver Kahn, Thomas Helmer as well as promising youngsters Christian Ziege, Markus Babbel and Dietmar Hamann, was struggling to deal with ill-discipline in it ranks.

The new boss endured a tough time as he attempted to adjust to his new surroundings and, with players popping up in the gossip pages of the tabloids as often as the back pages, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge described it as a “daily soap opera” and the club were nicknamed “FC Hollywood”.

The season ended trophyless but after leaving, Trap felt he had unfinished business and in 1996 returned to bring success in the league, cup and league cup. March 1998 will be remembered for this press conference, in which he launched a scathing attack on Thomas Strunz, Mehmet Scholl and Mario Basler, who were all members of his team:

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Despite his time in Germany, Trapattoni has only managed one player from Joachim Loew’s current team as striker Mario Gomez cemented his place in Stuttgart’s line-up under the Italian in 2005/06.

The Bayern Munich hitman, who won’t feature on Friday as he is recovering from an ankle injury, scored six times in the Bundesliga but that tally couldn’t prevent his manager from getting the sack. A defensive style and poor run of results saw Trapattoni last just 20 games before being replaced by Armin Veh.

Stuttgart’s Mario Gomez and Christian Genter in 2005. Credit: DANIEL MAURER/AP/Press Association Images

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Ben Blake

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