Netanya gamble on Mattheus

By Simon Griver, April 18, 2008

World Cup winner Lothar Mattheus has signed a two-year deal to manage Maccabi Netanya. But while the former Bayern Munich libero had a legendary playing career — winning 150 caps and captaining Germany’s 1990 World Cup winning team — his managerial track record suggests Netanya’s German owner Daniel Jammer may be making a mistake.

Mattheus, 47, has failed as manager of Hungary, Brazilian side Atletico Paranaense, Rapid Vienna and, most recently, Red Bull Salzburg although he enjoyed success when he won the Serbian league title with Partizan Belgrade in 2003. With Mattheus earning $1 million a year, five times the salary of incumbent manager Reuven Atar, who took the team to a second place finish last year and is in line for the runners-up position this season, it could also be an expensive error by Jammer.

“I’ve been to Israel many times before,” said Mattheus. “And I’ve been impressed by the videos I’ve seen of Netanya. I’d like to sign three or four top foreign players to make the team even better. I’ll be arriving in Israel in June and intend on becoming a real Israeli.”

There may be more to this last statement than just talk. Three times divorced Mattheus will reportedly be renting a home in Herzliya with his 23-year-old girl friend Liliana who has a Jewish grandmother and is entitled to Israeli citizenship.

Last updated: 3:03pm, April 22 2008