„Baby Mourinho“ is not a nickname earned very easily. Yet this is exactly what former German goalkeeper Tim Wiese calls the youngest ever manager in Bundesliga history – Hoffenheim’s future leader Julian Nagelsmann. The man is just 28 years old and has „only“ coached the clubs’s youth sides, alongside being an assistant manager to Franz Kramer in 2013, when he helped the first team fight off a drop to the 2. Bundesliga. An intriguing figure in the world of football without a doubt, Top Eleven examines just what Nagelmann’s qualifications are.
Things have been more than shaky for the club from Baden-Wurttemberg this season and it wasn’t hard to tell a change was on the cards. Not a lot of people could have foreseen who the board was preparing to unveil after the sacking of Markus Gisdol, though.You can be forgiven if you haven’t heard the name yet – after an average playing career with several German clubs, Nagelsmann was forced to quit after injuring his knee one time too many.
„I could have gone on“, he admits, „but that would probably mean having a completely prosthetic knee at age 40.“
The 28-year-old thought of giving the world of sports up altogether and used his spare time to graduate from a university that had nothing to do with his calling, but it was just not meant to be. While Julian Nagelsmann played for Augsburg, he was coached by Thomas Tuchel, who talked him into staying in the game upon observing his dedication and keen eye for details. „I scouted the opposition for Tuchel, since I already had a contract with the club and could not play due to my injuries.“ Even though Nagelsmann admits he has the Dortmund coach to thank for becoming a manager, he looks to Pep Guardiola for inspiration on the football pitch. He also mentioned a couple of other role-models in his interviews in Germany.
„My philosophy is to attack the opponents near their own goal because your own way to the goal is not as along, if you get the ball higher up. I like the way Villarreal play and they have a great way of coaching young players. I also like FC Barcelona and Arsenal, as well as the work of Arsene Wenger.“
The 28-year-old has worked with several of Hoffenheim’s youth teams, winning a title with the U-19 squad in 2013. Then came the unexpected offer – he was to become an assistant in the fist team during the same year. Hoffenheim’s latest move might have been unexpected for everyone, but it is very much in line with what the club is trying to become – a producer of Germany’s finest young talents. Continuity and developing players rather then spending money on them – these are the ideas considered bold in the unforgiving world of football. Nagelmann’s appointment could be considered a step further in this regard.
Upon calling Nagelsmann, the Hoffenheim board said they could feel how much fear the young coach had experienced upon hearing the offer, but, ultimately, it was only going to go one way. „He couragesly said ’yes’, and we believe he is the perfect man for the job.“
Nagelsmann allegedly rejected an offer from Bayern Munich to become a youth coach for them last summer, but he now faces a much greater challenge after taking over from caretaker Huub Stevens in 2016. The club is facing the prospect of relegation which could mean a plethora of challenges in the season 2016/2017 – As of February 12th, Hoffenheim have recorded a miserable two wins in twenty league games.
Nagelsmann might be about to take over a club striving towards future Bundesliga success, but he has kept busy by using absolutely every conceivable way to better himself during his wait. There isn’t even a slight hint of arrogance in the young German’s behavior. This winter, he was interviewed at a five-a-side tournament for teenagers, cheering his Hoffenheim on and perhaps eyeing future first-team stars.
Tuchel has lauded Nagelsmann’s inquisitive nature, while Bremen’s manager Viktor Skripnik has called him ‘a perfectionist’. These words alone won’t be enough to help Hoffenheim’s horrid form, but the new Boss is looking ready to face any kind of challenge. Tim Wiese called him Baby Mourinho because of his relentless stance and incredible footballing knowledge. He won’t be afraid of more experienced players. In fact, he won’t be afraid of anything. At least, he won’t show it – Nagelsmann is ready for the biggest job of his life.
Do you think Julian Nagelsmann will buckle under pressure? Tell us what you thin in the Top Eleven comment section!