Ernst Happel was born on November 29, 1925, and began his footballing career in 1938 with Rapid Vienna, his regular team until 1958 with the exception of a two-year stay with Racing Paris (1954 – 1956). Six times national champion, one Cup victory and 51 caps with the national team were proof of his unequalled skills. As one of very few footballers, he took part in two World Cups (1954 in Switzerland and 1958 in Sweden). One of the highlights of his playing career was his inclusion in the FIFA selection for a game against England.
After ending his career as a player, the "World Champion" began that part of his life that was to make him a legend: he took up the profession of football coach. To begin with, he was responsible for Rapid's team for two years, but having won the Championship and the Cup in 1959 he took the ambitious step of moving abroad.
Ado Den Haag (1962 – 1968), Feyenoord Rotterdam (1968 – 1973) FC Sevilla (1973), FC Bruges (1975 – 1981) and Hamburg SV (1981 – 1987) were the stages of his unique career that was crowned by training the Dutch national team in the 1978 World Cup final round. In 1987, he returned to his home country to continue his footballing philosophy with FC Swarovski Tirol, finally taking charge of the Austrian national team in 1991.
His list of successes is long and impressive – eight championship titles, six Cup victories, two European Cup successes, a European/South American Cup title, three other participations in the final round in the European Cup and second place for Holland in the World Cup meant that the grand old man was sure of a place amongst the best in the world. "A day without football is a lost day" - none of his many quotations better expresses his love of football than this. When Ernst Happel died on November 14, 1992, the whole of European football lost a great personality.