CHICAGO (Dec. 27, 2019) – The Chicago Fire Football Club announced today that Raphael Wicky will be the Club’s new head coach. Wicky is the ninth full-time head coach in Club history.
“I am honored and proud to be named the head coach of Chicago Fire FC,” said Wicky. “This is a position that comes with a lot of responsibility and I can promise the fans and everyone at the Club that I will work hard and give my all. During conversations with Joe Mansueto and Georg Heitz, I felt that we all shared a similar vision for the Club and how to move it forward. That was important to me. Chicago is a world-class sports city and this Club has a bright future, both on and off the field. I can’t wait to get started.”
The former Swiss international brings 27 years of experience as a player and coach in Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the United States. Wicky most recently coached the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team, helping them qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
The 42-year-old transitioned into coaching shortly after his playing career ended. His first head coaching job came at Swiss club Servette FC before moving to one of Europe’s top youth systems at FC Basel, leading the U-18, U-19 and U-21 sides to success before taking the helm of the first team in 2017. Wicky guided the senior squad at Basel, one of Switzerland’s most successful clubs, to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, the best Champions League result in Swiss history. In that competition, Basel defeated some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Manchester City, Manchester United and Benfica.
“I know Raphael very well from our time together at FC Basel in Switzerland,” said Chicago Fire FC Sporting Director Georg Heitz. “He is a man of high character who fits the philosophy and vision of this Club. He has a fresh, modern approach to football. Raphael has a great appreciation and respect for the sport and because of his time on the pitch, including representing his country at a World Cup, he is able to communicate extremely well with players. Raphael, who is familiar with Chicago, has always wanted to coach in MLS. Since he arrived in the U.S. and played here, he has become a student, learning about and studying MLS and what it takes to be successful in this League. We’re thrilled that he will be our new head coach.”
Prior to joining the Fire, Wicky was named head coach of the U.S. U-17 MNT on March 8, 2019. He guided the team to a record 17th FIFA World Cup berth after an impressive qualifying run in the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship. Under Wicky’s leadership, the U.S. finished in second place in the Concacaf Championship after outscoring its opponents 28-5 and holding a clean sheet streak for 323 consecutive minutes. At the conclusion of the tournament, four players from the U.S. U-17 MNT were named to the tournament’s Best XI. His playing career featured a 12-year run with the Swiss National Team, during which the midfielder earned 75 caps, highlighted by appearances at the 2006 FIFA World Cup as well as the 1996 and 2004 UEFA European Championships. Wicky spent 11 of his 17 years as a professional with Bundesliga clubs Werder Bremen and Hamburg and finished his career with former MLS side Chivas USA.
A native of Leuggern, Switzerland, Wicky holds a UEFA PRO License and is fluent in Spanish, English, French and German.
On December 20, 2019, Chicago Fire FC announced that the Club has hired Georg Heitz as Sporting Director. Heitz, a highly accomplished football executive with close to 20 years of experience, will oversee all aspects of the Fire’s football operations, including first-team and Chicago Fire Academy decisions. Heitz led the search for the team’s next head coach, Wicky. Heitz and Wicky worked together at FC Basel from 2013-2017.