Thursday 11 February 2021, 07:55

Flick savours historic World Cup double

  • Hansi Flick has led FC Bayern München to FIFA Club World Cup glory

  • 2014 World Cup winner as assistant coach, 2020 triumph as head coach

  • Hugely influential in 2014 World Cup success

By winning the FIFA Club World Cup™ final, Hansi Flick not only made history with FC Bayern München by matching Barcelona's record of six titles. He also set an individual best-mark: the 55-year-old became the first person to win both the Club World Cup (since 2000) and the FIFA World Cup™ as coach, having done so in 2014 as Joachim Low's assistant.

"Congratulations to my team," Flick said after the final. "They have completed a historical feat, they have won six titles in one season. Even for the successful club that is FC Bayern München, this was the most successful season ever. The team played outstandingly. The win was never in danger, we dominated and deservedly won the final.

"It was very difficult for me as well, we were all at the limit, the same goes for me at the touchline. The match against Tigres was on eye-level, even though we dominated. They deserved to be in this final."

Although Flick, a midfielder in his playing days, lifted the Bundesliga title four times with Bayern and represented Germany at youth level, he never earned a senior cap for his country. After the 2006 World Cup he was recruited as assistant to Low, himself newly appointed as head coach. The pair formed a harmonious duo from the outset, and although Flick kept a low profile in public, within the Germany set-up he worked independently in many areas.

To the outside world, this became particularly clear at the 2014 World Cup: whereas Low had previously afforded set-piece training little priority at earlier tournaments due to time restraints, Flick insisted on making it a central topic in Brazil. "We wanted to emphasise the value of set-pieces again, especially at such an extreme tournament," said Flick at the time, having sought advice from dead-ball experts in the Bundesliga.

Low jokingly bet his assistant an evening meal that Germany would not score any goals from set-pieces at Brazil 2014. Yet en route to the country’s fourth world title, Low’s charges ultimately scored four times from free-kicks or corners, including the equalising goal at 2-2 in the group game against Ghana, the only goal of the match in the quarter-finals against France, and the all-important opener in the semi-finals against Brazil.

"We practiced it intensively, sacrificed training time for it,” said Flick at the time. “Jogi will pay, so I'm looking forward to this meal." It was an expense Low would certainly have been happy to incur.

Following that triumph, Flick worked as an official at both the DFB and Bundesliga side 1899 Hoffenheim before joining Bayern as Niko Kovac's assistant for the 2019/20 season. When he succeeded Kovac as head coach in November 2019, it was the prelude to an unprecedented period of success, that included a 32-match unbeaten run in all competitions, as well as glory in the Bundesliga, DFB Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, DFL Supercup and now the FIFA Club World Cup.

FC Bayern München coach Hansi Flick with the UEFA Champions League trophy 2020

This success was no coincidence, with Flick radically changing Bayern's game after taking over. He implemented far greater intensity when pressing, a higher defensive line and, together with his staff, prepared his team in the best possible way for the final phase of the Champions League during the suspension of play caused by the pandemic.

In doing so, he was always mindful of the need for loyalty from his players, and proved himself to be an empathetic and even-handed man-manager. "Right from the start, he created a very good atmosphere in the team and gave us a lot of confidence. We had the feeling we were unbeatable," said Joshua Kimmich.

Brazil’s Tite won the Club World Cup in 2002 with Corinthians and, as Brazil’s head coach, could lift the World Cup title in 2022. Zinedine Zidane was triumphant at France 1998 as a player, and won the Club World Cup with Real Madrid in 2016 and 2017. It is by no means out of the question that he could take charge of France one day and steer them to another World Cup triumph. However, this evening, it was Flick who did it first.