• Premier League

Hitzfeld rejected United 12 years ago

ESPN staff
June 20, 2014
Ottmar Hitzfeld will be retiring after the World Cup © Getty Images

Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has revealed he turned down the Manchester United job in 2002 - because he did not believe his English was good enough.

Hitzfeld, 65, is set to retire after the World Cup, but the former Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund boss claims he could have taken over at Old Trafford.

Sir Alex Ferguson originally planned to retire and step down from his role as United manager 14 years ago at the age of 60.

However, he revoked that decision after discovering that then-England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson was being lined up to replace him.

But Hitzfeld, one of only four coaches to win the Champions League with two clubs, says he had the opportunity to become Ferguson's successor.

"I don't want to go into too many details because it was between myself and Manchester United," Hitzfeld said. "But I decided to stay in Germany because when I am coaching I prefer to express myself in German, because this is my mother tongue.

"I did not think I would be able to do myself justice if I had to speak to the players in English. I would not be able to get my emotions and feelings across. The players in the Swiss dressing room speak a variety of languages, including Italian, French and English, but when they come to work, I coach them in German.

"All the players understand it. If there are some special expressions required then one of my coaches might use a bit of Italian or French, but I coach them only in German and it is better that way."

Hitzfeld has won the Swiss Super League twice and the Bundesliga five times in a distinguished managerial career, while he helped Dortmund become champions of Europe in 1997, before repeating that feat with Bayern in 2001.

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