Loss for German football: DFB releases successful coach Kuntz for Turkey

Loss for German football
DFB releases successful coach Kuntz for Turkey

Stefan Kuntz is the most successful coach in U21 history. But after five years he is about to say goodbye – and to return to Turkey, 25 years after his guest appearance at Besiktas. Only details should still be clarified.

The change from U21 title coach Stefan Kuntz to the Turkish national soccer team is only a matter of time. The German Football Association (DFB) gave the 58-year-old permission to work for the Turkish Association, where a new national coach is urgently needed. The signature of Kuntz, who initially did not comment, should not be long in coming. Only details should still be clarified.

“Due to the success of Stefan Kuntz with the German U21 national team and his special relationship with Turkey, the DFB does not want to obstruct this next career step”, the DFB explained the “yes” for a possible change.

With two European Championship titles and three finals, Kuntz is the most successful U21 coach in the association’s history. He had last left his future open beyond the end of the year despite a contract until 2023. After moving months and the early Tokyo exit of the German Olympic team supervised by Kuntz, there has been speculation for weeks about the future of the 58-year-old, who in the meantime had also been traded as a candidate for the national coaching post that Hansi Flick has now taken over. Flick had directed Kuntz to the DFB in 2016.

Sharing expression of friendship

Kuntz in the Besiktas jersey. Here in a duel with Bochum’s Henyrk Baluszynski.

(Photo: imago sportfotodienst)

This week, Kuntz had confirmed talks at the invitation of the Turkish Association in Istanbul that he would succeed the last failed Senol Günes there. In the meantime, there was also speculation about Jürgen Klinsmann and the Ukrainian Andrej Shevchenko. However, Kuntz emerged as the top candidate for Hamit Altintop, who is said to have been entrusted with the negotiations on the Turkish side. “The possibility of sharing is also an expression of the friendship between German and Turkish football,” emphasized the DFB. Kuntz, European champion from 1996, should lead Turkey to the World Cup in Qatar in 2022.

Kuntz has a special bond with Turkey. The former Bundesliga player was active on the Bosporus during his professional career. In the 1995/96 season Kuntz ran for Besiktas Istanbul, the coach of the big club was Christoph Daum at the time.

The U21 urgently needs a successor

The Turkish association recently sealed the end of cooperation with Günes. With this, the association reacted to the most recent failures. Turkey lost 6-1 to the Netherlands in qualifying for the World Cup. Before that, the European Championships had been disappointing for the third place in the 2002 World Cup: After three defeats against eventual European champions Italy, Wales and Switzerland, the team under Günes had already failed in the preliminary round. The 69-year-old coach and the players were then exposed to a lot of criticism.

For the German U21s, the European Championship qualification continues on October 7th in Paderborn against Israel, followed by three more games this year. “I think that I’ll just do these internationals until the end of the year and then need this time and quiet and of course a few conversations so that I can find out for myself what’s the right thing,” Kuntz said last. Now everything should go even faster.

Annoyed after the Olympics

After returning from the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Kuntz complained about a lack of support from the Bundesliga. In his squad composition, he was ultimately dependent on how many clubs “want a good Olympic team” to go to the games, said Kuntz after landing in Frankfurt.

Kuntz had only been able to take 18 instead of the 22 allowed players, in Japan the rump team was eliminated after the preliminary round. There were “selfish reasons” for the cancellations, “partly from players, partly from clubs”, says Kuntz: “And then the timing of the Olympics does not play a major role for the clubs. This is how it all comes together.”