Jurgen Klinsmann has been appointed as the new coach of South Korea. The German will replace Paolo Bento, who stepped down from his role after guiding the East Asian nation to the last 16 of the Qatar World Cup.
Klinsmann has signed a contract until 2026 and is tasked with leading the country into the next World Cup which will be jointly hosted by the USA, Canada, and Mexico.
He had been out of coaching since a brief spell with Hertha Berlin in 2020, but he has now agreed a three-year contract with the South Korean national side.
Klinsmann had a distinguished playing career, first in the Bundesliga with Stuttgart, before moving abroad to Italy and Inter Milan, and then to England with Tottenham, where he became one of the first major overseas stars of the Premier League era.
He returned to Germany with Bayern Munich and would have brief spells back in Italy and on loan with Tottenham again at the tail-end of his playing days.
Whilst with Inter he would win the Europa League, a feat he would repeat at Bayern where he also collected a Bundesliga winners’ medal.
Capped 108 times by West Germany, he scored 47 international goals for them and was part of the team that won the World Cup in 1990, beating Argentina in the final.
He would also play for the United Germany at the 1994 World Cup where he became the first player to score three goals or more in three successive tournaments.
In 2004, he was appointed head coach of the German national side,and helped overhaul the team and transform them into a side that finished third in the World Cup two years later on home soil.
His assistant Joachim Löw would build on the foundations he laid to produce the team that won the tournament eight years later in Brazil.
A spell in charge with Bayern Munich followed, but he was sacked following a string of poor results with the players complaining of a lack of tactical instructions.
After a brief sojourn as technical consultant to Toronto FC, Klinsmann’s next major appointment was when he was appointed head coach of the US national team, a role he held for the next five years.
He won the CONCACAF Gold Cup with them in 2013 and helped them qualify for the 2014 World Cup, although his policy of selecting “Jurgen Americans” – players with German mothers but American serviceman fathers who had been born and raised in Germany – over established homegrown stars like Landon Donovan attracted criticism in some quarters.
He was fired after they started their qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup poorly.
At the end of 2019, he was appointed manager of German side Hertha Berlin, but he only lasted 10 weeks in the job before stepping down, due to disagreements with the team’s principal investor.
South Korea’s foreign coaches
South Korea have had a succession of foreign coaches over the past decades with the most successful being Dutchman Guus Hiddinck, who helped steer them to the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup. They remain the only Asian team to have reached that stage of a World Cup.
Other men to have held the job are Hiddinck’s compatriots, Dick Advocaat and Pim Verbeek, and another German Uli Stielike.
Portuguese Bento took charge of the team in August 2018 and he would go on to enjoy the longest tenure of any South Korean manager. He also won the most matches 935 during his period in charge.
However, he resigned after their World Cup campaign. Drawn in Group H they drew their opening game with Uruguay but were beaten in their second by Ghana.
An injury-time winner against Portugal in their third game enabled them to qualify for the round of 16 as runners-up, but then they were thrashed by Brazil, blown away in the first half before the South Americans took their foot off the gas.
First matches in charge
Klinsmann’s first match in charge of his new team will be on March 24th when they face Colombia at home in Ulsan in a friendly. Four days after that, they face a re-match with Uruguay in another friendly.
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