With Otto Rehhagel declining the German Football Association’s (DFB) offer to make him national coach, only two candidates remain for the top job: Guus Hiddink and Lothas Matthäus – and even they are long shots.
Otto Rehhagel has given his last word: I'm staying in Greece
Following in the footsteps of Ottmar Hitzfeld, Otto Rehhagel on Saturday declined an offer to take over the coveted job of German national team coach. In a telephone conversation with the deputy head of DFB, Franz Beckenbauer, on Saturday, the coach who brought Greece to victory in the Euro 2004 soccer championships in Lisbon, said he was not available for the job. Rehhagel told Beckenbauer that during his three years with the Greek team, he had really built something, and that he wanted to stay true to his word and stick with the team through the 2006 World Cup, when his contract expires.
By rejecting, Rehhagel also turned down a huge chunk of cash. In Greece, the 65-year-old has earned €600,000 for his work as top coach, but in Germany he could have earned up to €5 million between now and the World Cup, according to media reports.
"Through thick and thin"
The Greek Football Association (EPO) responded with relief to Rehhagel’s decision. "Otto Rehhagel is keeping his word," said EPO President Wasilios Gagatsis in an interview with news broadcaster "Flash" on Saturday night. Rehhagel, he said, will stay in Greek not because of his contract with the EPO but "because we’ve been through thick and thin together."
Greeks: let’s drink a beer to it
Greek media widely greeted the news. "Rehhagel’s keeping his word and we never doubted that," TV broadcaster Antenna announced on Saturday night. And the radio station Erasport interrupted its programming to salute him: "Rehhagel’s staying. Now we can concentrate on our World Cup qualifications. Let’s drink a beer to that."
In recent days, members of EPO’s board have criticized Rehhagel for allowing rumors about his possible departure to stew for a week. According to reports in Greek state television, NET, the football association was planning to issue the coach an ultimatum.
And then there were two
Lothar Matthäus is still a candidate to coach the German national soccer team
With both top candidates declining to take Germany’s top soccer job, the remaining candidates are Holland’s Guus Hiddink and recording-breaking former German national team player Lothar Matthäus (photo). For Hiddink, The Netherlands’ surprise spring into the semi-final at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea speaks well for his international experience. However, he is under contract through 2007 in Eindhoven and insiders say the only reason he hasn’t turned down the offer yet is because it hasn’t been given to him. Matthäus, meanwhile, who currently coaches the Hungarian national team, is broadly consider to lack the reputation needed for the high-profile job.