Skip to content

Klinsmann's South Korea dismissal yet another blemish on managerial career

Kaz Photography / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Find the biggest stories from across the soccer world by visiting our Top Soccer News section and subscribing to push notifications.

Jurgen Klinsmann was one of the greatest strikers of his era, but the German's managerial career has never reached the same heights.

The 59-year-old was sacked on Friday as South Korea coach following their exit in the semi-finals of the Asian Cup last week.

South Korean fans and media were never convinced when Klinsmann was appointed a year ago and lambasted him for his managerial record, failing to move to the country and even the fact he smiled in defeat.

Klinsmann repeatedly told the doubters to trust him and banked it all on taking the country to their first Asian Cup crown since 1960.

But a talented side boasting Asia's best player in Son Heung-min were convincingly beaten 2-0 by surprise packages Jordan in the last four in Qatar last week.

It later emerged that the Tottenham star and skipper was involved in a bust-up with teammate Lee Kang-in, the Paris Saint-Germain player, on the eve of the game.

Following the defeat to Jordan, Son said he felt sorry for Klinsmann, given the flak he had received from day one.

"I was deeply touched by how he took care of the players without showing any sign of frustration and never giving up until the end," said Son.

Klinsmann remained affable and polite with the media, even when asked following South Korea's exit whether he would quit.

He refused to jump, but has now been pushed instead.

Limited success

For his detractors, Klinsmann's ill-fated spell in charge will be more evidence that he was never cut out to be a coach.

As a prolific striker, Klinsmann almost won it all at international and club level.

He won 108 caps for Germany, scoring 47 goals, and helped his country to World Cup glory in 1990. He was also a European champion.

Klinsmann lifted the German title with Bayern Munich and was a UEFA Cup winner with Bayern and Inter Milan.

In contrast, his only silverware as a coach is the continental Gold Cup with the United States more than a decade ago.

His stunning success as a player saw him take over as Germany boss immediately after retirement and with no managerial experience.

They reached the semi-finals of their home World Cup in 2006 and Klinsmann won plaudits for instilling an attacking style of play.

Two years later, he was named Bayern coach, where he lasted less than one season. They were third in the Bundesliga when he was fired.

Then came a five-year spell in charge of the United States, which he still calls home.

It brought the Gold Cup and a place in the last 16 of the 2014 World Cup before he was sacked in 2016.

Klinsmann drifted out of management, save for a stint at Hertha Berlin from November 2019 to February 2020, and then South Korea came calling.

Asian Cup exit

It was that record that sceptical South Korean fans pointed to when he was named coach in February last year.

Klinsmann's reign started badly when he failed to win any of his first five games in charge.

Such was the antipathy towards him, he was also criticised for smiling too much.

Results improved going into the Asian Cup and, unlike predecessor Paulo Bento, Klinsmann found a way to get the best out of the talented attacking player Lee.

But South Korea were never convincing at the Asian Cup, drawing with Jordan and Malaysia in the group phase before being dumped out when they met Jordan again.

Calls for Klinsmann's dismissal reached a crescendo with the revelations of the bust-up involving Lee and Son on the eve of the semi-final, with Klinsmann's critics saying it was more evidence of his weak management.

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox