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Following a disastrous campaign at Euro 2020, Turkey has looked abroad for its new coach and appointed successful Germany Under-21s coach Stefan Kuntz. Kuntz played for Turkish giants Besiktas for one season as a player.
Former German international Stefan Kuntz has been appointed head coach of the Turkish national team, Turkey's football federation (TFF) announced on Sunday.
Kuntz led Germany's under-21 team to three straight European Championship finals and won the title in 2017 and 2021. Most recently, the 58-year-old coached a German under-23 side which failed to qualify for the knockout round at the Tokyo Olympics.
He had been among the candidates rumored to be in consideration to succeed Joachim Löw as Germany's senior team coach, before Hansi Flick got the job.
He takes over from veteran Senol Gunes, who oversaw a disastrous Euro 2020 this summer, with Turkey eliminated in the group stage after three defeats. At the signing of his three year deal on Monday, Kuntz said he wants to learn Turkish and embrace the culture of the country.
"I want to be the most German Turk or most Turkish German," he said.
A 6-1 thrashing at the hands of the Netherlands in World Cup qualifying two weeks ago sealed Gunes' fate, with Turkey's hopes of qualifying for a first World Cup since 2002 hanging by a thread.
Turkey team general manager Hamit Altintop told DPA that Kuntz had been the top candidate from the outset, while former Germany coach Jürgen Klinsmann and Ukraine's Andriy Shevchenko were also mentioned as potential candidates. Despite taking on his first senior international job at 58, Kuntz said it holds few fears.
"I didn't become a national player until I was over 30," he said with a laugh. "I was also a late starter there. So that's been with me my whole life," he continued, adding that he now felt ready for a big job having turned down Bundesliga approaches in the past. "Anyone who knows my resume knows that there have to be new challenges now and then. And coaching a national team in a country where I have a positive past is one."
The German Football Federation (DFB) said last week it would happily release Kuntz from his contract.
"Due to Stefan Kuntz's successes with the German U21 national team and his special relationship with Turkey, the DFB does not want to obstruct this next step in his career," the DFB said.
As a player, Kuntz won Euro 96 with Germany and played for Turkish giants Besiktas for a season under German coach Christoph Daum.
In Turkey, he will take over a squad which is brimming with promising talent and which had impressed leading into this year's Euros. However, under Günes they lost all three group games against Italy, Switzerland, and Wales with a goal difference of -7.
Kuntz' first game in charge will be a key qualifier against Norway on October 8, followed by a trip to Latvia three days later. Turkey face an uphill battle to qualify for Qatar 2022 but Kuntz insists he "wants to pull off that little miracle,"