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Basel coach Vogel, true son of Bayern

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Basel coach Vogel, true son of Bayern

Postby FCBayernNews » Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:30 pm

Toni Kroos, Thomas Müller, Holger Badstuber, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mats Hummels, Owen Hargreaves, Markus Babbel, Christian Nerlinger and Klaus Augenthaler are just a tiny handful of the former Bayern youth products who have made it big in the pro ranks. However, this season marks a first for the world-renowned and highly successful junior section at Germany's biggest club. For the first time, a coach rather than a player nurtured by Munich's junior team has made it to the highest levels of the game. On Wednesday, he will watch his FC Basel side take on Bayern in the Champions League. His name is Heiko Vogel.

"It's definitely a surprise to see a man whose origins are in youth development end up as head coach at a club as successful as FC Basel. It can only happen if he possesses genuine quality," FCB junior team boss Werner Kern, one of the first to appreciate Vogel's talent and potential, told

Palatinate-born Vogel, by his own admission a lifelong Bayern fan, was hired by Kern in 1998. Injury curtailed Vogel's own playing career when he was just 22 and appearing in the third division, after which he studied sports science at Munich Technical University. "Heiko was recommended to me, and after speaking to him, I was certain he was a good guy," recalled Kern. Vogel took over the FCB U-10 juniors, moving on to the U-13, U-15 and U-17 in the course of the following nine years.

"It was sensational from the very first day on," said Vogel, thinking back to his early days in Munich, "the possibilities were almost limitless. If I could do it all over again, I'd do exactly the same thing at Bayern. It was the best thing that could ever have happened to me. I had nine wonderful years, and I'm eternally grateful for that."

Destined to be the big boss

Müller, Lahm, Badstuber, Diego Contento, Hummels and Mehmet Ekici were all coached by Vogel, and have nothing but fond memories of the man. "We really enjoyed it with him," recalled Müller, "he was always relaxed, although when the going got tough, he changed his approach and could be very stern. That's why I think he has exactly what it takes to be a head coach."

According to Badstuber, "there was always something special about Vogel, something not every coach has. He can be a great motivator, and his team talks were sometimes very aggressive, but he was very calm when you spoke to him face-to-face." A clutch of Vogel's former pupils still recall legendary kickabouts when the Basel boss joined in with the FCB juniors. "He nutmegged us a lot," reported Müller. "I think we were responsible for teaching him how football is really played," grinned Lahm.

Eagle-eyed and alert

Kern closely followed Vogel's progress in building up a special relationship with his talented young charges. "Heiko was very popular with the players," the junior team boss related, "the lads were thrilled with him, because he was always there for them. He understands players, he thought like a youth and felt like a youth. They'd do anything for him." Naturally, Vogel was also technically competent, coaching successful teams and proving a dab hand as a scout. "Heiko was always good at spotting talent," Kern confirmed. David Alaba and Toni Kroos were both discovered by the Basel supremo.

Curiously enough, a year before joining the FCB staff, Vogel completed a four-week internship at Real Madrid under a certain Jupp Heynckes. Bayern granted the budding big boss time off in 2004 to complete his qualifications and secure Germany's top coaching badge. But at about the same time, another significant event took place in Munich, as Vogel got to know Thorsten Fink. When the former FCB midfielder took charge at Ingolstadt in January 2008, Vogel went with him as his assistant.

Superb record as Basel boss

"Thinking about whether to let him go caused me a bit of a headache," revealed Kern, although after sleeping on it, the junior team boss sent Vogel on his way with the club's best wishes. "You shouldn't stand in the way of people on the move. Heiko was totally convinced he needed to join Thorsten Fink on his journey." It turned out to be the right path for the former youth coach, as Ingolstadt were promoted to the second division in 2008. A year later, the pair shipped up in Basel, collecting a domestic double in 2010 and defending the league title in 2011.

The pair went their separate ways in October 2011. Fink was lured back to Germany with Hamburg, and Vogel stepped up to the head coaching role in Basel. In 15 matches since then, the 36-year-old has guided his men to ten victories and just one defeat. In the Swiss league table, Basel have transformed a five-point deficit into a six-point lead with a game in hand. The Swiss FCB are through to their cup quarter-finals, and sensationally became the first club from Switzerland ever to make the Champions League last sixteen.

No mood for reunion gifts

"I've spoken to a lot of Swiss reporters in recent days, and they all have nothing but praise for him. He's clearly doing a fantastic job," said Kern. Müller made no secret of his admiration: "I'm delighted it's going so well for him." However, there will be no gifts in the forthcoming reunion in the Champions League, Müller warned: "He'll have to deviate from the path of success for once."
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