Germany's longest-serving national team soccer player and one of the sport's most controversial personalities, Lothar Matthäus, is heading to Brazil. He'll become the first German to coach in the country's top division.
Matthäus is already popular with the kids in Brazil
The president of Atletico Paranaense confirmed Thursday that the former Bayern Munich and national team star will coach the club after agreeing to a one-year contract this week.
In accepting the job at Paranaense, which club president Mario Celso Petraglia said will get sponsor help in paying his sizeable salary, Matthäus will be the first German trainer to coach in the country that has given the world the most World Cup champions and the most exciting soccer.
"This is a very important experience for my continued development," he said. "What European can say that they've coached a top Brazilian team?"
A "zero as a coach"
It will be the fourth team Matthäus has coached since retiring from the game, with mixed results at every station. After club stints at Rapid Vienna and Partizan Belgrade, he became coach of the Hungarian national team in 2003. After failing to qualify them for this June's World Cup, the Hungarian Soccer Association got rid of the top executives. Matthäus said he had a contract offer, but wanted to return to coaching club soccer.
Matthäus is no stranger to controversy
He said he was excited about the "return to working with a team every day."
His arrival has generated enthusiasm on the fan sites of the club, which last won a Brazilian championship in 2001. The reaction among sports journalists has been more critical.
"He was great as a player, but he's a zero as a coach," said the well-respected soccer journalist Paulo Clement, according to wire agency dpa. "I'm not very excited at the prospect."
Though Matthäus' service to German clubs -- he played at Borussia Mönchengladbach and FC Bayern Munich -- and the national team are undisputed, his abrupt manner and extreme confidence have made him a divisive figure in the sporting community.
His failed attempts at getting a coaching job in the Bundesliga -- his preferred address -- or as coach of the national team after Rudi Völler left to make way for Jürgen Klinsmann in 2004, is evidence of that. After coaching positions became open in Hanover and Nuremberg recently, Matthäus' name circulated once again -- but was eventually dropped.