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2nd League: Kaiserslautern relies on oldie coach Friedhelm Funkel

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2nd League: Kaiserslautern relies on oldie coach Friedhelm Funkel

2nd League Kaiserslautern relies on oldie coach Friedhelm Funkel

The new Lautern coach Friedhelm Funkel has already led a first training session at the Fritz Walter Stadium. photo

© Werner Schmitt/dpa

Friedhelm Funkel has the football business back. The 70-year-old is taking up the coaching job at 1. FC Kaiserslautern – and can even hope for the cup final.

When he returned to the Betzenberg Friedhelm Funkel received with applause. Almost 1,000 fans warmly greeted the new coach of second division club 1. FC Kaiserslautern when he stepped onto the pitch in a black tracksuit at 4 p.m.

“It’s a very nice feeling that people haven’t forgotten you and are happy that I’m back after all these years,” said Funkel at his official introduction.

A good two months after his 70th birthday, the oldie coach is back in the football business – and is supposed to save the Palatinate team from relegation from the 2nd Bundesliga. “There is no guarantee. I am not a savior,” said Funkel. “But I want to work with the team to ensure that we make the next games successful. Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and plow the pitch. The only thing that counts is staying in the league.”

Cup final? “That’s still a long way away”

In the delicate mission, the former FCK professional also has a big season finale in Berlin awaiting him: Funkel could reach the final of the DFB Cup with the Red Devils – he has never won this title as head coach. “I’m not interested in that at the moment,” said Funkel. “That’s still a long way away.”

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The focus for everyone involved is staying in the league. “It’s just about staying in the class,” emphasized FCK managing director Thomas Hengen. That’s why the crisis-hit Palatinate team parted ways with head coach Dimitrios Grammozis on Tuesday evening – just 73 days after he took office.

Under the 45-year-old German-Greek, who only took up his post on December 3rd as Dirk Schuster’s successor, the Lauterers lost five of six second division games. “Unfortunately, we didn’t manage the turnaround and have therefore decided to take this step,” said Hengen, explaining Grammozis’ release.

Kaiserslautern is only in 16th place in the league

In the end, it didn’t help that he won the cup round of 16 against 1. FC Nürnberg and the quarter-finals at Hertha BSC and the FCK played against the winner of the duel 1. FC Saarbrücken against Borussia Mönchengladbach for a place in the final. Because in the league the Palatinate team fell to 16th place in the table. With only 21 points, the FCK is level on points with the penultimate Hansa Rostock and has to fear falling into the 3rd league two years after being promoted again.

This is to prevent sparkles. “Friedhelm Funkel has a CV that is second to none. He is very experienced and was also a FCK great as a player,” said Hengen about the new hopeful, who has confirmed his commitment until the end of the season. “He’s already done things in football that you need in these important moments like now.”

In the afternoon, Funkel led his first training session at the Fritz Walter Stadium. The former FCK professional from Krefeld last trained 1. FC Köln for a few months in 2021 and saved them from crashing out of the Bundesliga through relegation. “I noticed that the fire had been rekindled and I felt like taking over a team again,” said Funkel and demanded of the team: “We have to bring more fire back onto the pitch. Then we can stay in the league. “

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Job at FCK is a matter close to the heart for Funkel

For the veteran, the job in Kaiserslautern is a matter close to his heart. During his playing days – over 40 years ago – he played 89 competitive games for FCK. With well over 1,000 Bundesliga and second division games as a coach and player and eleven coaching positions (twice in Cologne), Funkel knows the business better than almost anyone else.

The welcome greetings for the industry expert came from virtually all corners of German professional football. Coach Alexander Zorniger from Lautern’s second division rivals SpVgg Greuther Fürth was “extremely happy” that Funkel is back – “because he has something, he has a personality, he is eloquent. I have to ask about his secret, how he has so many Years with almost 300 second division games and I don’t know how many first division games without suffering any psychological damage.”



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