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On the spot

Huub Stevens

In just two week's time, Huub Stevens will leave Hamburg and the Bundesliga to return to his native Holland. But before his departure, we took the opportunity to ask him a few final questions.

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Kick Off: Huub Stevens, can you buy success?

Huub Stevens: Without money, success is impossible. That much is clear. But it isn't just a matter of money. I think you have to be creative. If you have money as well, then it certainly makes things easier.

You've coached some of Germany's biggest, most traditional clubs. But you never managed to win the biggest prize of all, the Bundesliga title.

Yes but that's not just to do with money. In Germany, Bayern Munich are always clear favourites to win the title. Now and again, other teams come through and win it, but over the course of ten years, Bayern will win the championship seven or eight times.

You said a team needs organisation, discipline and respect. Is that your management philosophy?

Yes but fun also belongs in that list. I don't think you can work in any organisation without discipline, or without respect for one another. And it's equally important to have fun. If you manage that, and you communicate well with the team, then I think that you can create harmony. I was always a very team-oriented player. I behaved like a coach on the pitch and things just developed from there, and I ended up switching into management.

Your professional playing career started at the tender age of 16, at Fortuna Sittard.

Yes I remember it well, my first professional deal. I got an annual salary of 1,500 guilders. That would be about 700 euros per year. Unbelievable when you think about it today. And that's why I think it is quite difficult for young players who have nothing, but then suddenly get paid a lot of money. It's hard to manage that transition well.

I imagine that in the 1970s, when the coach told you to jump, you jumped.

Yes, but in my experience I think there's a difference between the Netherlands and Germany in that respect. When I first came to Germany, one of my initial impressions was that the players would do everything I said.

Everything?

Yes, they did. They might ask why afterwards. But in the Netherlands, they're more likely to ask why beforehand.

At Schalke you won one UEFA Cup and two German Cups. After six years at the club, you announced that you would leave at the end of the 2001-2002 season. You made that announcement during the during the winter break, yet still the team responded well, bagging 35 points from the remaining games. How did you motivate them?

The team really pulled themselves together. I explained to them why I wanted to leave Schalke. I'd been there for six years and I thought it was time for the players to hear another voice and see another face. And I suppose the players could have made life easy for themselves because I was going to leave anyway. But they didn't. Instead they showed a lot of character and really put their backs into it to make it a successful season.

You took over in Hamburg in February 2007 when they were languishing in last place in the league. You then worked your managerial magic to take them to a UEFA Cup place in just three months. Was that your greatest success at the club?

When I look back at how things developed in Hamburg then I have to say it is nice to have had that success. That was the reward for all our hard work.

But things haven’t been going to plan this year. Since you announced your departure, Hamburg have been haemorrhaging points.

If the players haven't learned from last season then that's bad. Maybe there are some players who think they don't have to put in any effort. But if that's their attitude, then they're damaging themselves and the club. It's a shame because you don't play for the coach but for the club and for yourself.

So you're disappointed with the second half of the season?

I am disappointed, yes. But I can honestly say that the coaching staff have done everything in their power to make Hamburg successful. Maybe, just maybe, there are a few players who have been taking things too easily. However, even if the results haven't been very good, the overwhelming majority of them have been putting their backs into it. But you can't do everything yourself.

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