Schuster started his professional career with 1. FC Köln at age 18 in 1978 after a number of promising performances with the West German Under-18 National team. Schuster left Köln after the 1980 European campaign to sign with Spain's FC Barcelona, where he flourished. During his career, he played for clubs Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen. At his final team, the Mexican side Pumas de la UNAM he appeared in ten matches in spring 1997.
Schuster was an important part of the FC Barcelona team during the 1980s, leading the game from midfield and scoring many goals. His club president Josep Lluís Núñez and some trainers like Helenio Herrera, Udo Lattek, Terry Venables and Luis Aragonés had difficult relations with him. He won, however, the European Silver Ball in 1980 and Bronze Ball in 1981 and 1985. At age 21, in 1981, he received a bad injury on his right knee by Athletic Bilbao defender Andoni Goikoetxea.
His move to Real Madrid was controversial due to the strong rivalry between Barcelona and Madrid. Bernd Schuster's style complemented the group of home-grown Madrid players known as la Quinta del Buitre who led the team to a dominance of the Spanish Championship through the 1980s.
Schuster signed with Atlético Madrid in autumn 1990 and helped improve the performance of Atletico's traditional games based on backpasses. His long precise passes helped restore Atlético Madrid as a prominent club.
In 1993, Schuster returned home to Germany to play for three seasons with Bayer Leverkusen. Despite his contributions, the club was unable to capture Bundesliga and German Cup titles but his performances inspired much of the country to push for a place for him in the 1994 World Cup squad. In the national TV-Station ARD "Goal of the year" election Schuster won the first three places in 1994. In the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll to name the finest European players of the last five decades, Schuster finished 40th.
He was part of the West German side that won the 1980 UEFA European Football Championship in Italy, appearing in two of Germany's four matches. His performances there helped him earn the Silver Ball Trophy honour as the Europe's second best player in 1980 behind Golden Ball winner, and Germany team-mate Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. His refusal to take part in a match against Albania to be home for the birth of his second son David caused a sporting scandal at the time. Schuster retired from the German national team at the age of 24, due to his repeated disagreements with the German Football Association, then national team manager Jupp Derwall, and teammates including Paul Breitner. According to Schuster, it was due to a major disagreement with the managements of both Barcelona and the German National Team on either side of a friendly match against Brazil. Overall Schuster won 21 caps for the West German national team
Schuster was the manager of Fortuna Köln between 1 July 1997 and 30 June 1998.
Schuster was manager of 1. FC Köln from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999. Schuster was unable to get the club promoted. In 2000, he applied for the manager job at Scottish club Dundee FC, but the Dundee chairman rejected his application.
Schuster became manager of Xerez CD on 26 June 2001. Schuster managed the team successfully for two seasons. The second and third best seasons in the history of the club. However, he could not get the club promoted to La Liga.
In June 2003, he accepted a deal to coach Shakhtar Donetsk starting on 1 July 2003. Schuster established a club record number of consecutive victories. However, the team did not win the championship and did not reach the final round of the Champions League with a match against Lokomotiv Moscow. Schuster was sacked on 5 May 2004, one week before his team played and won the Ukrainian Cup final in 2004.
He went back to Spain in summer 2004 to coach Levante UD. Schuster was sacked on 1 May 2005. The sacking came with a 5-point advantage over the relegation zone with five matches remaining. However, Levante could not win a game and fell to the Segunda División again.
Schuster went to Getafe CF in the summer of 2005. Schuster led them to their best season in team history under his guidance. Schuster coached Getafe in their second successful season and the team did even better, seventh in La Liga. Getafe also secured entry to the 2007–08 UEFA Cup as a result of reaching the final of the Copa del Rey after overcoming a 5–2 first leg semi-final defeat against Barcelona, beating them 4–0 in the second leg.
Schuster was appointed manager of Real Madrid on 9 July 2007. As manager, he made a successful start with Real Madrid, taking them to top of the La Liga standings. Attacking football returned again to the Santiago Bernabéu stadium with Madrid having the strongest offence, not beaten at home from the start of the league and defeating their arch rival Barcelona at their home ground Camp Nou, increasing their lead to seven points between them and second place (Barcelona).
The team qualified to the second round of the UEFA Champions League leading their group which contained Olympiacos, Werder Bremen and S.S. Lazio. He changed Real Madrid's style of play, switching from the defensive football during the reign of Fabio Capello to fast paced, attacking football. After losing 2–1 to AS Roma in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League which meant the elimination of Real Madrid, many doubted that Schuster would continue to be Madrid's coach, but the club denied the allegations. On 4 May 2008, Schuster guided Real Madrid to their 31st title with three games to spare.
On 18 May 2008, Schuster's Real Madrid achieved the highest point total (85 points) a record that was set by rivals Barcelona. He went on to win the 2008 Spanish Super Cup. Although enjoying a successful season with Madrid, Schuster had frequent confrontations with the media. Sometimes refusing to answer questions, making controversial or sarcastic statements and walking out of press conferences. On 9 December 2008, Schuster stepped down as manager after a 4–3 defeat to Sevilla FC, and speaking out publicly about his team standing no chance of beating Barcelona (Coached by Pep Guardiola at the time) in the El Clásico derby match. He was replaced by Juande Ramos.
On 10 June 2010, Turkish club Beşiktaş announced that Schuster had agreed to become the club's new manager on a two-year contract. Among his first signings for the club were Portuguese winger Ricardo Quaresma, Roberto Hilbert and former Real midfielder Guti, who was coached by Schuster at Madrid. Later he bolstered the squad with three additional Portuguese stars Simão Sabrosa, Hugo Almeida and Manuel Fernandes. Schuster resigned on 15 March 2011 from Beşiktaş after the bad results, having frequent confrontations with the media, making controversial statements and walking out of press conferences. He was criticised by the Turkish media for trying to implement a reckless attacking style of play.
Schuster became head coach at Málaga on 12 June 2013. In May 2014 his contract was terminated after he failed to achieve a top-half position in the league.As of 16 May 2014
During his time as a player, Schuster and his wife Gaby were celebrities in Germany. Gaby had a controversial reputation, worsened when she took over the job as her husband's manager. During the Schusters' stay in Spain, she was also notorious for her often public comments directed towards FC Barcelona coach Udo Lattek and national coach Jupp Derwall when her husband played for them. The couple have four children. In 2008, Schuster separated from Gaby Schuster. In 2012, he remarried with a Spanish lawyer, Elena Blasco.FC Barcelona
La Liga: 1984–85
Copa del Rey: 1980–81, 1982–83, 1987–88
European Cup Winners' Cup: 1981–82
Copa de la Liga: 1983
La Liga: 1988–89, 1989–90
Copa del Rey: 1988–89
Supercopa de España: 1989
Copa del Rey: 1990–91, 1991–92
UEFA European Football Championship: 1980
UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament: 1980
Ballon d'Or: Runner-up 1980 – Third place 1981 and 1985
La Liga: Don Balón Award for Best Foreign Player 1985, 1991
Copa del Rey: Runner-up 2006–07
La Liga: 2007–08
Supercopa de España: 2008
La Liga: Miguel Muñoz Trophy for Best Coach of the Year 2006