Vladimir Petkovic will take control of the Swiss national football team after next year’s World Cup in Brazil, following the retirement of coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.
The 50-year-old Petkovic, known as Il Dottore (The Doctor), currently coaches top Italian club Lazio but has been in negotiations with the Swiss Football Association for weeks.
Although some newspapers said the appointment of the former coach of Young Boys Bern was a done deal last month, Petkovic only signed his contract on Monday.
His contract runs until the end of 2015, but should Switzerland qualify for the Euro 2016 tournament in France, it will be extended automatically until the end of the tournament.
“Of course I have continuously followed the Swiss team and its development under Ottmar Hitzfeld,” Petkovic said in a statement on Monday. “Therefore I’m fully aware that on the one hand I have a hard act to follow, but on the other I’m taking on a really well-established team with good prospects.”
Petkovic is multilingual and enjoys a good reputation in Switzerland as a smart and flexible tactician.
Petkovic was born in Sarajevo and emigrated to Switzerland in 1987. He has three passports: Swiss, Croatian, and Bosnian.
As a player, he represented several Yugoslav clubs before joining the Swiss team Chur 97 in 1987. He later played for Sion, Martigny-Sports, Bellinzona and Locarno.
His first management role was with Bellinzona in 1997. In 2004, he took over the reins at Lugano before returning to Bellinzona, whom he led to the 2008 Swiss Cup final only to lose to FC Basel.
At the beginning of the 2008-09 season, Petkovic was appointed coach of the Young Boys club, whom he took to a second-placed league finish. After two more seasons in Bern, he was sacked in May 2011.
He then became coach of Turkish team Samsunspor. He resigned from that position in January 2012 and a couple of months later was named temporary coach of Sion until the end of the season. In June 2012, Petkovic joined Lazio in Serie A and with them won the Coppa Italia in 2013.