The Evil That Men Do : Otto Rehhagel’s betrayal of Werder Bremen.

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As previewed a few weeks ago, a new series of posts starts today focused on the individuals that have committed unforivable sins. First up, we welcome NiklasWildhagen – Norway’s number one one Werder Bremen fan, who refuses to forgive his side’s former hero.


Much has been said about Otto Rehhagel’s achievement with Greece in the 2004 European Championship. However, what many football fans outside Germany tend to forget is that the Essen born coaching legend was the head honcho at Werder Bremen for 14 years.

Being a coach somewhere for more than three or four seasons almost qualifies for legend status these days. Coaches come and go more quickly than prostitutes at Silvio Berlusconi’s ”Bunga Bunga” parties. Rehhagel charmed the Bremen board and ruled the way the club worked with ease. Firing him was never an option. This is the man who masterminded success with a combination of old pros that almost everybody had forgotten (before Rehhagel resurrected thier careers), and young talents that made their way through the ranks of Werder. Quality players like Dieter Eilts, Marco Bode and Thomas Schaaf all got their debuts under Rehhagel.

The press in Bremen didn’t dare to ask questions that Rehhagel might not like, and were complicit in hiding the personal problems that a few of the pros had. Uli Borowka’s drinking problems in particular were covered up by the press and Rehhagel. But, Werder was, and still is, all the things Bayern Munich is not; quiet, never splashing out huge sums of money, and coaches are given a lot of time. Rehhagel managed to be rather successful with that formula at the Weser alongside long time manager Willi Lemke (two German championships, two German cup victories, a European Cup Winners Cup, and several second placed finishes).

Uli Hoeness (Bayern’s former general manager and president)was so annoyed by Lemke, and the way he went about his business, that he actually once declared Lemke to be amongst his sworn enemies. The feud reached its height in the 90s, with nasty comments going both ways, keeping all of German football rather entertained and amused.

What many didn’t count on was Rehhagel’s next move after he felt that his time at Werder had run its course. Just before the end of the season it was announced that Rehhagel would move from Bremen to the territory of Lemke’s sworn enemy, and coach Bayern Munich.

Why, oh why did you do that Otto, I was asking myself? Moving to the club which was run by Uli Hoeness, who at times acts with less morals than the head of a church. In the 90s there was only one club that Bremen fans like me loved to hate as much as our arch rivals, the Hamburger SV, and it was Bayern. We loathed them with an unbriddled passion, with every inch of our bodies. Swapping Werder for Bayern is a bit like exchanging a catholic school girl’s uniform for Lady Gaga’s meat dress. It is taking a step from all that is good and decent, into the world of all that is disgusting, despicable and immoral. Ebola felt like a better fate than losing to Bayern Munich on the weekend.

Well, that is the way I felt about it then, when I was nine years old. I have since grown up to understand a little bit more about the football business. These days I still don’t like the sort of move that Rehhagel pulled back then, but I understand the coaches who decide to take up a new challenge with one of Europe’s greats, like Bayern Munich, Chelsea or Real Madrid.

However, probably because I was put through this somewhat traumatic experience back when I was a little kid, I still do feel an intense dislike of Rehhagel. Whenever I see his face appear on the telly, I usually use a couple of not entirely eloquent, well put curses directed at the man who betrayed me and the rest of the Werder fans back in the 90′s. I’ll never forgive Rehhagel for what he did back then, and his name will forever be synonymous with the evil that man choose to do in my mind.

You can read more from Niklas on his own blog where he muses about the Bundesliga, and follow him on Twitter.

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5 Responses to The Evil That Men Do : Otto Rehhagel’s betrayal of Werder Bremen.

  1. Andrew says:

    Good article, but Chelsea, one of Europe’s greats? A few seasons of domestic success with minor success in the Champions League (they were unlucky to lose the way they did in the final) preceded by 100 years of mediocrity doesn’t make them one of Europe’s greats.

    • Niklas says:

      well, they are one of maybe four or five sides that can be considered favorites to win the CL, but point taken, their history pre Russia oil money isn’t impressive. I have to agree with you there.

  2. Outside Mid says:

    Nicely done Nik. One question though: Isn’t it automatically assumed anyone named “Otto” is going to do some evil? If he has a fitness coach named “Igor,” you can’t say you weren’t warned about an impending shift to the dark side.

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