German champion with 1. FC Kaiserslautern and Werder Bremen. Otto Rehhagel’s successes are in the history books of the Bundesliga. But “King Otto” celebrated his greatest triumph in 2004 when he became European champion with Greece. This piece of art is now available as a film in the cinema.
Otto Rehhagel celebrated his greatest national successes in the 1980s and 1990s with Werder Bremen (German champions in 1988 and 1993, four times runner-up, DFB Cup winners in 1991 and 1994, European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1992) and with 1. FC Kaiserslautern, with the he managed to become champion in 1998 as a newcomer. “Such sensations are no longer possible in today’s football,” believes Rehhagel, which is mainly due to the supremacy of FC Bayern Munich and the disproportionate financial strength of some clubs. Probably his greatest success is winning the 2004 European Football Championship with Greece. This sensational piece has now been filmed and will be released in cinemas on Wednesday (November 10th, 2021).
Otto Rehhagel no longer likes to be the center of attention
At the presentation of the film “King Otto” in Essen at the beginning of October, the trainer legend reveled once again in the Greek memories of 2004. The thunderstorm of flashlights quickly became too much for Otto Rehhagel. “So, that’s it, away with you,” he said with a smile after he had lined up for a press photo with his wife Beate. The now 83-year-old had just chatted for 30 minutes about the film “King Otto”, which illuminates the story of the sensational Greek EM triumph in 2004 under his direction. “It was unique for such an outsider to win the title,” said Rehhagel, who – typically Otto – liked to digress in his answers. “The players have become friends for life. When they meet today, they always send me photos of them.” The coaching legend has become quiet in recent years, he enjoys the time with his Beate and likes to tell one or the other anecdote from their life together.
Memories of 2004
Rehhagel fondly remembers 2004, when more than a million people celebrated the final victory against hosts Portugal and the young Cristiano Ronaldo in Athens: “That was the greatest success of my coaching career, the title made headlines around the world.” In the film, which will be released in German cinemas on November 10, the story of “Rehakles” and his team will be rolled out again. Three years before the triumph, the native of Essen had taken over the Greek national team and formed it into a unit without star players that made the impossible possible. “There is only one truth in football: the ball has to go into the goal. But to get there you need good players,” said Rehhagel, just as happy 17 years after the European Championship victory as he was back then. “I knew my players were good,” said Rehhagel.
National coach Otto Rehhagel?
After the 2004 European Championships, Rehhagel was considered a candidate for the post of the new German national coach. He is said to have turned down an alleged offer from the DFB. “Of course everyone wants to be a national coach one day. But I was obliged to the Greeks. They were in great love for their coach. That was something extraordinary,” says Rehhagel looking back.
There were no further successes with Greece
Although the success like winning the 2004 European Championship was hard to repeat, and despite missing qualification for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Rehhagel extended his contract with the Greeks in November 2005. The next goal was the 2008 European Championship in Switzerland and Austria, for which Rehhagel’s Greeks qualified without any problems, but could not defend their title. The team was eliminated after the preliminary round, just like at the following World Cup in 2010. The now almost 72-year-old Otto Rehhagel decided shortly after the 2010 World Cup not to continue his work in Greece. After almost nine years, his record showed 106 international matches, two European championship and one world championship final tournament, so he had been in office for much longer and with the European title, of course, was much more successful than any Greek national coach before him.
Premiere in Essen
On Wednesday, November 10th, 2021 the film “King Otto” will celebrate its cinema premiere in the Lichtburg in Essen. In the presence of Otto Rehhagel, who will definitely have some amusing anecdotes to tell from the triumph of 2004.