German legend returns

Germany head coach Juergen Klinsmann gestures from the sideline during the second half of the...

Germany head coach Juergen Klinsmann gestures from the sideline during the second half of the quarterfinal World Cup soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany(AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle)

SUN WIRE SERVICES

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

Juergen Klinsmann, who turned down the chance to become coach of the U.S. national soccer team 13 months ago, has agreed to take over as coach of Bayern Munich on July 1.

"I had other options but this was by far the best opportunity I got," said the 43-year-old former German star forward, who will replace Ottmar Hitzfeld. "It's a huge honour, and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to coach Bayern. It's the No. 1 club in the country. It's a privilege.

"I knew that at some point I would return to coaching. Bayern is one of the six, eight top teams in the world. That's what makes it fun."

Klinsmann led Germany to a third-place finish when his nation hosted the 2006 World Cup, then quit and returned to his home in the Los Angeles area. Even while coaching the German national team, he commuted to Europe from California, where he lives with his American wife and children.

Klinsmann, who played for Bayern from 1995-97, said he will build his own staff that will include Americans and other international experts.

General manager Uli Hoeness said Klinsmann accepted the offer after thinking about it for one night.

"He is a maverick. We wanted a man who has strong opinions, who looks for new ways and who can approach young people," Hoeness said.

Bayern isn't in this season's Champions League, but advanced to the third round of the UEFA Cup. The club is 10-1-6 in the Bundesliga and in first place ahead of Werder Bremen.

UKRAINE PICKS NEW COACH

Alexei Mikhailichenko has replaced Oleh Blokhin as Ukraine coach.

Mikhailichenko, who previously trained the junior national team, signed a two-year contract, the Ukrainian soccer federation said yesterday. Blokhin stepped down late last year after Ukraine failed to qualify for this year's European Championship.

"I understand very well the whole responsibility and honour to be appointed the chief coach of the national team, and also understand the great goals the team has," Mikhailichenko said. "We now only have one goal -- to get to the finals of 2010 World Cup."

FREE KICKS

Wigan signed 23-year-old Wilson Palacios on a 3 1/2-year year deal from Honduran club Olimpia yesterday ... Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann has decided against a move from Arsenal to Borussia Dortmund ... Chelsea has inked Nicolas Anelka from Bolton to a 4 1/2-year contract with the Blues ... Plamen Markov was appointed Bulgaria coach yesterday, replacing Dimitar Penev. His two-year contract will be extended if the team qualifies for the World Cup ... Liverpool has completed the signing of Slovakia defender Martin Skrtel from Zenit St. Petersburg.


Videos

Photos