(Reuters) - Jupp Heynckes recalled on Tuesday his fond memories of leading Real Madrid to a Champions League win 20 years ago — but Bayern Munich’s great manager was adamant he had no interest in looking back as he prepared to tackle old foe Zinedine Zidane again.
On the eve of Bayern’s first leg of their Champions League semi-final against the club who once sacked him, the 72-year-old reflected only briefly on coaching Madrid to a 1-0 win over a Juventus side featuring Real’s current manager Zidane in 1998.
“I have many memories in my head from the Amsterdam Arena against Juve with Zinedine Zidane, (Filippo) Inzaghi, (Didier) Deschamps and it was a nervous finale with five minutes of added time,” Heynckes told a news conference.
“It was a fantastic feeling when the whistle went and Real were European champions again for the first time in 32 years.”
Yet that was Heynckes’ only nod to nostalgia as the man who was sacked by Real eight days after that match, paying the price for their domestic failures that season, said: “I really live in the here and now.”
Wednesday’s game should be Heynckes’s last European night at the Allianz Arena, although that’s a dangerous assumption with a man who has become like a reliable heavyweight champ, tempted out of retirement and into the red corner for just one more bout.
In 2013, he said farewell after guiding Bayern to another Champions League win, something that eluded his otherwise much-lauded successor Pep Guardiola, and could say goodbye again with the same treble of Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League.
Not that this quiet high achiever ever dwells on that Wembley final win over Borussia Dortmund in 2013.
“I had a successful playing career and as coach but I never looked back,” the man who scored many goals for Borussia Moenchengladbach said on Wednesday.
“I never watched games when I was a player, nor the wins in the Champions League in 1998 or 2013. I don’t know if I don’t like it, but I never did it.”
Heynckes, one of the game’s gentlemen, never did hold a grudge - publicly at least - against Real for what, from the outside, looked a familiarly unjust dismissal, always shrugging that it was an honour to manage the Spanish aristocrats.
When his Bayern side beat Real in the 2012 semi-finals, he was adamant there was no sense of personal revenge for him.
It seems fitting, though, that his old club, whose lost lustre of the 1960s he did so much to restore, should provide the opposition on what promises to be an emotional night for the prolific striker-turned-master manager.
On Wednesday, Heynckes, who will be replaced as manager next season by Niko Kovac, reiterated: “I think that Real is a worthy opponent for every coach and player. It was not on purpose for me to be on this stage, because I had already ended my career.
“So, for a coach who’s old, it is something exceptional for me to come back on the football stage and to have the privilege of another semi-final. Then, to play against Real as well is great.”
Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Ed Osmond