It all began in 1971 when he embarked on his playing career at FV Engers 07 in the Rhineland Amateur League. Via TuS Neuendorf and Hamburg SV, Peter Hermann, born in Kleinmaischeid in the Rhineland-Palatinate, ended up at Alemannia Aachen where he made 69 appearances (seven goals) in two seasons. He then answered the call from Leverkusen in 1976 where Willibert Kremer was the coach at the time. Hermann had laid the foundations for his impressive career.
Together with Fred Bockholt, Jürgen Gelsdorf – who he would meet again in another role at Bayer 04 later in his career – Walter Posner, Peter Szech and Co., he achieved promotion to the Bundesliga in 1979. Up to then, he was able to clock up 98 games in the second division (20 goals). Today’s birthday boy will definitely never forget one particular day in his career: 8 September 1979. On matchday five against Eintracht Frankfurt, the midfielder came on as a substitute for Hans-Jürgen Scheinert in the second half to make his Bundesliga debut.
Peter Hermann made 216 appearances for Leverkusen in his eight years as a player before moving on to VfL Hamm in then fifth tier at the age of 32 where he ended his playing career in 1985. Back then, he could not have anticipated his future career as an assistant coach.
After a four-year break from football, Hermann returned to Leverkusen. As assistant coach under coach Jürgen Gelsdorf, who he knew really well from his days as a player, he spent two years at Bayer 04 before taking over as caretaker coach for the first time in 1991.
After a second short spell as interim coach in 1995, the following year brought the nail-biting finish to the 1995/96 campaign, after the dismissal of Erich Ribbeck, with the Werkself facing the problem of having just five games to avoid relegation to the second division. This culminated in the dramatic ‘relegation final’ against FC Kaiserslautern on 18 May, which ended in a 1-1 draw that kept Bayer 04 in the top flight. Hermann had never thought about a possible role as head coach even though he did receive a number of offers over the course of his career. “I like being assistant coach and I’m not so keen on being in the top job. It’s fun working with youngsters and developing my skills. You have to be loyal in this job. That’s why I always knew the assistant coach job is the best role for me.” Hermann worked alongside well known coaches at Leverkusen like Christoph Daum, Erich Ribbeck and Berti Vogts, and he was also assistant coach to Klaus Toppmöller when Bayer 04 were three times runners-up in 2001/02. “If we’d have had the self-belief of FC Bayern in 2012/13 then we could have won the treble, one hundred per cent. At the victory ceremony in Glasgow, I touched the trophy as I thought I’d never get to another Champions League final again in my life,” said Hermann, who was involved in another final ten years later.
Another significant factor in helping him achieve a certain cult status under the Bayer Cross was Jupp Heynckes. “Jupp and I work very well together. We have the same approach to football. It all just works with him,” said the man from the Rhineland Palatinate in an interview in 2011. Bayer 04 very quickly became aware of the charisma of the duo. The pair first came together in 2009, when the new Bayer 04 coach Heynckes tempted the assistant to the FC Nürnberg coach Michael Oenning to come to Leverkusen. It was the start of a long-term partnership and a friendship that did also have its teething problems.
“Back then, I was always used to being able to do a lot off my own bat. At the start, I couldn’t do a lot on my own under Jupp although I wanted to play an active role,” recalled Hermann before adding: “We had to feel our way at first but then we got to value and know each other better. That led to a certain friendship. I’m truly very happy that I got to know him,” Hermann said about Jupp Heynckes.
Bayer 04 finished runners-up in the Bundesliga under the duo in 2010/11. In the summer of 2011, they followed the siren call of FC Bayern, where they were able to celebrate a very special success two years later: the treble in 2013: “Everything went brilliantly that season. After losing the final in Munich the year before, there was a significantly greater desire. We had a dream team and they were prepared to go through hell and high water for Jupp – that was impressive,” Hermann recalled.
The partnership of the duo ended after the treble with the appointment of Pep Guardiola and Hermann moved on to Schalke 04 and Hamburg SV before finishing up at Fortuna Düsseldorf. He worked alongside Friedhelm Funkel for two years in the North Rhine-Westphalia state capital before becoming the most expensive assistant coach in the world the following year.
As he was still under contract at Fortuna, Bayern, who brought Jupp Heynckes back in 2017 as successor to Carlo Ancelotti, paid out the princely sum of €1.75 million for assistant coach Peter Hermann – a record that is still awkward for the modest football coach. “Players often aren’t worth that much – and I was just an assistant coach. I thought it was over the top for Düsseldorf to ask for so much. But Jupp insisted that I went with him.” They won the German league title with Bayern Munich in 2017/18 in their third and, to date, final time working together.
Peter Hermann is no longer involved in club football. Since last year, he has been assistant coach with the Germany U18s alongside the former Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund player Christian Wörns. Would the stalwart one day return to the dugout of a professional club? “I don’t think so. The only call I succumbed to came from Jupp Heynckes. But I don’t think he’ll be calling me again,” Hermann said. Whatever happens – we definitely say: Many happy returns, Peter Hermann!
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