Stevens appointed new Schalke coach
Huub Stevens has been appointed as coach of German club Schalke to replace Ralf Rangnick, who stepped down last week.
''I'm happy to be back,'' Stevens said at a news conference Tuesday after signing a contract through 2013. ''The club is in my heart.''
The 57-year-old Dutchman previously coached Schalke from 1996-2002, becoming the club's longest-serving coach. He led the club to the UEFA Cup title in 1997, the German Cup in 2001 and 2002, and came agonizingly close to winning the league in 2001 when Bayern Munich snatched the title.
''It's not for nothing people say: 'Once a Schalker, always a Schalker,''' Stevens said after about 1,000 fans showed up for his first training session in charge.
''There were harmonious talks with the club,'' Stevens said. ''The past few days were hectic. It's not important what happened in the past, but what happens today and tomorrow. I look forward to the challenge.''
Schalke general manager Horst Heldt said the club ''didn't want to experiment.''
''Huub's coming home, and his fire is burning. We've seen that other clubs have success with experienced coaches who still have fire burning inside,'' Heldt said.
Rangnick surprised Schalke by leaving Thursday after just six months in charge, citing burnout. Schalke team doctor Thorsten Rarreck said the 53-year-old had no choice but to quit immediately ''before he imploded.''
Rangnick had taken over from Felix Magath at the end of March.
''It's important that Ralf Rangnick returns,'' Stevens said. ''I sent him a text message ... I think he showed great courage in making this decision.''
Stevens was the favorite to take over at Hamburger SV, another former club, following the sacking of Michael Oenning but talks broke down on Sunday evening.
''I didn't say 'No' to Hamburg,'' Stevens said. ''Hamburg said to me that they were speaking with several candidates. So I also find I have the right, as a coach, to speak with other clubs.''
Stevens will face Hamburg in the Bundesliga on Sunday, after Thursday's Europa League match against Maccabi Haifa.
Schalke is fifth after seven league games, six points behind Munich.
''There's a lot of potential in the team. But the right balance still has to be found. I want football that the fans can appreciate,'' Stevens said.
Stevens also coached German sides Hertha Berlin and Cologne, as well as Dutch clubs Roda JC and PSV Eindhoven. His most recent job was with RB Salzburg, which he led to the Austrian title in 2010.