Hitzfeld was noticed through this tournament and decided to return to Germany to play with VFB Stuttgart. He was part of the Stuttgart team that scored 100 goals in a single game, agaist SSV Jahn Regensburg, scoring 6-goals himself. The final scoreline was 100-36 in favour of Stuttgart.
In 1977, Hitzfeld helped Stuttgart gain promotion to the German Bundesliga, having scored 33 goals in 55 games so far. He helped the team reach fourth spot in their first season in top flight football.
Hitzfeld had come to call Switzerland his home and in 1978, he returned to Switzerland, signing with FC Lugano for three seasons before moving to FC Luzem till 1983. Hitzfeld retired at FCLuzem, at the age of 34.
Hitzfeld the Coach
Immediately after retirement, Hitzfeld got a coaching role at FC Zug, where he stayed for a year. The following season, he moved to FC Aarau for another four seasons, settling down as a coach. In his final season, he won the 1988 Swiss Cup, attracting the attention of Grasshoppers, Zurich. Hitzfeld duly signed with the team and went on to win four more titles that included the 1989 Swiss Cup, the 1990 league and cup double as well as the 1991 league title.
It was time to return to Germany again and Borussia Dortmund hired his services after having finished 10th in the league. Along with his colleague for the next 13 seasons, Michael Henke, Hitzfeld took the team to second spot and a place in the UEFA Cup, in his very first season.
He led Dortmund to the finals of the UEFA Cup, but lost out to Juventus in both legs. In 1995, Hitzfeld repaid the fans and club with the German league title, the first title for Dortmund since the 1989 German Cup. The following year, Hitzfeld successfully led the defence of the title and despite a strong performance, failed to win the UEFA Champions League.
In 1997, Dortmund finished third in the league and didn’t win the German Cup. However, it wasn’t a trophy-less season for Hitzfeld. He took Borussia Dortmund to the finals of the UEFA Champions League, meeting Juventus again. With the finals in Munich, the entire fan support helped Dortmund beat Juve 3-1 and won Hitzfeld his first World Coach of the Year title.
However, there were internal problems in the club and Hitzfeld was sacked despite his stellar showing.
Fired from Borussia Dortmund, the most successful club in the history of German football, Baryen Munich, couldn’t let such a chance go waste. They quickly swooped Hitzfeld up in a bid to revive their former glory. Thus began a golden era in Bayern’s history.
Hitzfeld’s first job was to win the league title by a record margin, in 1998. After losing the German Cup final to Werder Bremen, all hopes of a double lay on their UEFA Champions League final clash against Manchester United.
After having dominated for the entire 90 minutes at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Hitzfeld’s side were leading 1-nil. However, an injury time fight-back saw United score twice in the space of 3 closing minutes, stunning Bayern Munich.
Hitzfeld was stunned but not out. He came back the following season with the League and Cup double. The former came with Unterhaching beating Bayer Leverkusen on the final day of the season. Their Champions League run was ended by eventual winners, Real Madrid.
2000-01 was a season of revenge, in Europe. Hitzfeld again won the Bundesliga title to make it three in a row, but his heart was set on the UEFA Champions League.
In the quarter finals, Bayern were placed against 1998 opponents Manchester United. This time, Hitzfeld was prepared and Sir Alex Fergusson’s team failed miserably. Bayern then went on to face the defending champions, and the team that eliminated them from the tournament last season, Real Madrid.
Led by an enigmatic Steffen Effenburg and an inspirational youngster in Owen Hargreaves, Bayern overcame the Spanish hurdle, only to meet another Spanish side in the finals. Against Valencia, the match went to penalties, and Bayern eventually won to make Hitzfeld only the second coach, at the time, to win the Champions League with two different teams.
Once again, Hitzfeld was named as the World Coach of the Year, as he led them to Intercontinental Cup title as well. In the league, however, Bayern only managed third place.
In 2002-03, Bayern won their fourth league title, under Hitzfeld, this time with 4 games to spare. Hitzfeld also led Bayern to a 3-1 win over Kaiserslautern, winning the German Cup to complete a domestic double. The following season was to be Hitzfeld’s last at the club. After Bayern played poor football throughout the season, they ended the season without any trophies and Hitzfeld was asked to leave.Despite an offer from the German national team, Hitzfeld decided to take a break instead. In February, 2007 Hitzfeld’s successor, Felix Magath, was fired and Hitzfeld was recalled to Munich to see out the remainder of the season. However, 8 points behind with 15 games to go was too much for Hitzfeld to overcome and Bayern ended the season in fourth place. For the first time in a decade, Bayern had failed to qualify for the Champions League.
Hitzfeld fueled a large spending spree that saw the likes of Lucio and Lucas Podolski come to the club. He again led Bayern to the 2007-08 Bundesliga title and the DFB-Ligapokal as well as the DFB-Pokal titles. Their run in the UEFA Cup ended in a semi-final defeat at the hands of eventual winners, Zenit St. Petersburg (0-4). Hitzfeld announced his departure from Bayern at the end of the season, allowing Jurgen Klinsmann to take over.
Hitzfeld, instead, decided to take on the role of the coach of the Swiss national team, in 2008. After ensuring qualification to the World Cup, Hitzfeld renewed his rivalry, against del Bosque, from his Bayern days. This time, as well, Hitzfeld came out on top as Switzerland beat the heavily favoured Swiss 1-nil.
After losing to Chile and only managing a draw against Honduras, Switzerland were eliminated from the World Cup.