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5. OBITUARY: Max Merkel made mark with wins and wit
November 30th, 2006 3:15AM



Austrian Max Merkel coached four clubs to league titles in three countries and coached the Dutch national team. As a player, he was capped by Germany in 1939 and Austria in 1952.

As a coach and later as a columnist for Bild, Merkel was known for his sense of humor and many of his remarks fill German soccer quote books.

He once called midfielder Mario Basler "the most expensive parking meter. He just stands still while Bayern keeps sticking money inside him."

Of coach Christoph Daum, Merkel said, "He eats only macaroni so he can keep talking through the holes when he is eating."

Of current Greece coach Otto Rehhagel he said, "He used to find it difficult to distinguish omelette from Hamlet."

Merkel won the Austrian league with Rapid (1957), the Spanish La Liga with Atletico Madrid (1973) and won the German Bundesliga with 1860 Munich (1966) and FC Nürnberg (1968). He coached the Netherlands in 1954-56 and lost only once in 18 games.

He wrote columns for Bild for nearly 29 years and said of German soccer federation bosses, "They think the soccer ball bounces because there's a frog inside."

Regarding team discipline, Merkel said he once pitted the boozers on his team against teetotalers in a scrimmage: "The boozers won, 7-1. So I said, "Keep drinking."

Merkel died on Tuesday in his Munich home on Tuesday at age 87.

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