Globetrotting German coaching legend Rudi Gutendorf has died aged 93, his son Fabian told dpa late Saturday.
“In him we are losing someone who has enriched us every day with his big heart and positivity,” Gutendorf’s family said in a statement.
Gutendorf, who was born in Koblenz on the Rhine river, died of old age, according to his son.
The veteran coach trained more than 50 clubs in more than 30 countries around the world, from Antigua to Zimbabwe.
Football took him around Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
“I’ve done nothing but football for my entire life. This has become my profession and I love this job,” Gutendorf once said of his long career in the sport.
Gutendorf’s playing career at TuS Koblenz ended in 1953. He got his coaching licence a year later.
Gutendorf did not go abroad immediately. He initially coached in Germany, leading MSV Duisburg to second place in the inaugural Bundesliga season in 1964 and saving Schalke 04 from relegation.
VfB Stuttgart and SV Hamburg were other German stops, while his far-flung foreign career included stints in Japan, China and several African nations.
The cosmopolitan coach got a reputation for serving the teams of smaller countries well. He trained the national teams of Bermuda, Botswana, Grenada, Nepal, Samoa, and Trinidad and Tobago, among others.
Former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter called him a football aid worker.
In 1974, Gutendorf was coaching Chile’s national team which was poised to qualify for the World Cup. This would have been the greatest success of his coaching career. He had to leave the South American country after a military coup, however.
Gutendorf touched many people, his family said. “It makes us grateful and proud to have spent our lives at his side and we will never forget him.
“As a ‘restless Rudi,’ he was always a man full of energy and enthusiasm for his family and his beloved football,” the family statement added.