Ottmar Hitzfeld, German coach of the Swiss national football team, will leave his job after next year’s World Cup in Brazil. The Swiss guaranteed their place in the tournament on Friday with one match to spare – the first time they have ever done this.
Hitzfeld, who will be 65 in January, said in a statement released by the Swiss Football Association that it was «the most difficult decision of my career».
He made his announcement on the day Switzerland rose to seventh place in the FIFA world rankings, making them one of the eight seeded teams for the World Cup. They hadn’t been in the top ten since October 1995.
Hitzfeld took the Swiss job in July 2008 after an illustrious career in club management. He is one of only four coaches to win the European Cup or Champions League with two clubs, having coached Borussia Dortmund to the 1997 title and Bayern Munich in 2001.
Under Hitzfeld, Switzerland has played 53 matches so far, winning 26, drawing 17 and losing ten. They have scored 75 goals and let in 46.
They finished top of their qualifying group to reach the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Although they stunningly won their opening match 1-0 against eventual champions Spain, they went on to lose against Chile and draw against Honduras, which meant they wouldn’t go any further.
Disappointingly, Switzerland failed to qualify for Euro 2012, but Hitzfeld led them to a third successive World Cup as his team remained unbeaten throughout the 2014 qualifying campaign.