Hitzfeld is the flavour of the month in European football and has been heavily linked with the Manchester United job when Sir Alex Ferguson departs, as suggested, at the end of next season.
He will lead Bayern Munich out for their second European Cup final in three years against Valencia in the San Siro in Milan tonight having knocked out United and holders Real Madrid along the way.
He also clinched a third-successive Bundesliga championship at the weekend.
His record makes him on of the top managers in Europe and midfielder Steffen witnessed his climb to the top of the tree at first hand.
Hitzfeld was Steffen’s manager at Borussia Dortmund from 1993-1998, winning the Bundesliga in 1995 and 1996, the European Cup and World Club Cup in 1997 before leaving for Bayern Munich.
Steffen, who left Germany for Spurs in 1999, recalled: “I had some problems with him. We had a difficult relationship but I had my biggest success with him, so I cannot say he is right or wrong.
“I can give you an easy answer — he was a striker and I am more of a defensive player.
“There was always a situation where I was thinking that the attacking midfielders or strikers should do more.
“But it was an interesting time for me and I know a lot of things from my time there.”
So what was he like as a manager? “Very clever,” he said. “He knows the football and he knows the players because he was a player.
“He has a very clever philosophy. He always helps the offensive players and gives them the self-confidence to express themselves.
“Perhaps that is the right philosophy to go and win something. Perhaps as well it is easier for a club like Bayern Munich. The club is successful, has a lot of money and it is easier to buy players.
“He won the final with Borussia Dortmund and has been in the final, semi-final and final again with Bayern Munich. He is a good manager and successful manager.”
Steffen Freund admits he had a ‘difficult relationship’ with Ottmar Hitzfeld — the manager who took him to two German titles and the European Cup with Borussia Dortmund and bids to take Bayern Munich to European Cup glory on Wednesday night.