U21 successful coach Stefan Kuntz
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When Stefan Kuntz flew to the European Championship in 1996, he had a special present in his luggage for his teammates in the German national team.
At that time, Kuntz was still a professional at Besiktas Istanbul.
"I brought 'Allah's Eye' with me for all the boys, a lucky charm for everyone," Kuntz told SPIEGEL in June when he remembered the German European Championship triumph 25 years ago.
He may have traveled to Istanbul again today with Allah's eye in his pocket. A quarter of a century after Kuntz's stint at Besiktas, he is returning to Turkey as the future national coach. The 58-year-old former U21 coach of the DFB signed his contract with the Turkish association on Monday and thus accepted the challenge of an A national coaching job for the first time. Either way, it will be an adventure for him.
Kuntz has led the DFB youngsters to the European championship title twice, and once he was runner-up.
He has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to bring young players into their best form within a short period of time.
The gift of being able to quickly form a group from a collection of young, talented footballers helped him.
He has the quality to find the right address with young people.
What was heard again and again from the U21 European championship team this summer: A real team was at work here.
Which was also able to become European champion because the team spirit knew how to compensate for some sporting deficits.
Winning way of communication
It's something that Kuntz took away from the 1996 experience.
When the famous slogan of coach Berti Vogts was born: The star is the team.
His communicative streak, which he last lived out as an ARD expert at the EM, comes in handy when dealing with younger people.
At the U21 he repeatedly demanded that his players compete "with a lion's heart".
These are pictures that should be well received in Turkey.
The extent to which he can bring this communicative aptitude to another country will also depend on which team Kuntz is forming around him.
At that time he learned a little Turkish at Besiktas, but that one year as a professional was too short to go far there.
The opportunity to take the job in Turkey arose at short notice.
Predecessor Şenol Güneş was dismissed after the 1: 6 in the World Cup qualification against the Netherlands.
Before that, the Turkish selection had performed disappointingly at the European Championships and had to leave for home after the group stage with no points and a bleak goal balance of 1: 8.
DFB loses high-profile trainers
But Kuntz has made spontaneous career decisions several times in the past.
Even when he accepted the U21 selection in 2016, this idea had matured at Kuntz for a short time after a conversation with the then DFB sports director Hansi Flick.
"The next day I thought about it while running and then called Hansi immediately," he said in June.
And this time too, his decision was made early on.
"There were good talks in Turkey," he told SPIEGEL the week before, "after that, both sides took a few days," and the final decision was made on the weekend.
The DFB had already given him approval, the association is losing a high-profile trainer and further trainer with him, the successor is currently still completely open.
Hamit Altintop, here as a player in Darmstadt in 2017, is the new strong man in the Turkish association
Photo: Frank Rumpenhorst / dpa
Former Bundesliga professional Hamit Altintop, now a sports director in the Turkish association, played a key role in Kuntz's commitment.
The native of Gelsenkirchen has risen to become one of the most influential men in the association, and his connection with Kuntz is short.
The fact that his twin brother Halil, like Kuntz, has a Kaiserslautern past certainly didn't hurt.
The big advantage for the new coach is that he won't find a heap of personal fragments with his new team in Turkey.
Unlike one of his predecessors, he doesn't have to send his Germany-affine assistant coach Tayfun Korkut to Germany to investigate whether there are capable players who could possibly help Turkey.
In order to then ask the parents with a bouquet of flowers whether their son would not be interested in the Turkey adventure.
Relegation to Group C in the Nations League
Rather, Kuntz finds what is probably the most internationally experienced national team in Turkish football history.
14 of the 26 players nominated for the September internationals play abroad.
All in the Premier League, Serie A, Primera Division or Ligue 1. Only youngster Orkun Kökçü, who is under contract with Feyenoord, does not play in one of the top European leagues.
Nevertheless, the team's sporting development stagnated.
And not just since the European Championship.
In the Nations League, Turkey was relegated to the C-League and will soon be up against the Luxembourg, Azerbaijan and Kosovo category.
Kuntz predecessor Şenol Güneş initially developed a defensively stable team that only conceded three goals in the European Championship qualification.
But this stability was noticeably lost, and Güneş began to rotate more and more without finding a solution.
To make matters worse, with Merih Demiral the emotional head of the team was missing for a long time after a cruciate ligament rupture, then lost his regular place at Juventus and was nominated for the European Championship without match practice.
This also applies to Demiral representative Ozan Kabak, who was injured at Liverpool FC and then left out.
In any case, it is already a plus for Kuntz that Demiral (to Atalanta) and Kabak (to Norwich) changed and are now gathering match practice again.
Hope for the talent worker Kuntz
But the biggest task for Kuntz will be to aggressively set new accents.
This is where players like Halil Dervişoğlu (21, Galatasaray) could help.
The striker was in the squad under Güneş, but hardly played a role.
This is where Kuntz can score with his knack for setting the right tone with talent.
The coach will also have to use his communicative skills to reduce the emotional distance between fans and the national team.
Disputes and scandals have permanently tarnished the relationship with »Milli Takım« in recent years.
When Güneş built up a young team that actually only focused on football and was also successful, Turkey found its way back to the national team for a while.
The slogan »Bizim Çocuklar«, translated as »Our boys«, was developed.
But the sporting failure at the European Championships and the association's ignorance of recognizing this undesirable development early on let the credit slip away again.
The proximity of the government headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to football is also a sensitive issue.
If Kuntz re-establishes the emotional bond, he has already achieved a lot.