After two spells in the Bundesliga with Schalke and RB Leipzig, Domenico Tedesco has moved into national team management with Belgium. But what more is there to know about the high-achieving and multilingual boss?
bundesliga.com fills you in on some fascinating aspects of his life so far.
1) He had a record-breaking start
Born in the south of Italy and raised near Stuttgart in Germany, Tedesco started his coaching career at the youth teams of VfB Stuttgart and Hoffenheim. Second-tier side Erzgebirge Aue then took a chance on the promising novice in March 2017, before prompted Bundesliga side Schalke came calling later that summer.
The Royal Blues had finished the 2016/17 campaign 10th in the standings, and Christian Heidel - the club’s sporting director at the time - decided a change was required. Heidel had previously given both Jürgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel a start at Mainz, and this time he offered 31-year-old Tedesco his first top-flight experience.
“He can’t sit five minutes at the table without grabbing the salt shaker to illustrate some tactic or other,” Heidel said of Tedesco soon after Schalke’s youngest ever head coach arrived in Gelsenkirchen. “He’s thinking about it from dawn ‘til dusk.”
The players were impressed too. Goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann said Tedesco had “a God-given gift” for coaching, while in January 2018 veteran defender Naldo said he was the best coach he’d ever had and that Tedesco “makes everybody feel hugely important for the team.”
With glowing references like that, it wasn’t surprising that the results followed. Tedesco led Schalke to a second-place finish in his rookie season, and in so doing helped them return to the UEFA Champions League for the first time in four years.
2) He was a classmate of Nagelsmann
Tedesco’s talent was obvious at the DFB coaching school that he graduated from in 2016. One of his classmates there was none other than former Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann, although it was the former Leipzig head coach who finished with the best marks in their year.
In Nagelsmann’s defence, he had by that stage already been thrown in at the Bundesliga deep end. Appointed head coach of Hoffenheim at the age of 28 in February 2016, he was busy saving them from relegation while finishing his studies.
“Over the 10 months we sometimes travelled there together, which was always great fun,” Tedesco said of his time getting his final coaching badge alongside Nagelsmann. “He’s an incredible person and an incredible coach.”
The two young coaches have been following similar paths since. A few months after Nagelsmann had vacated the role, Tedesco became the Hoffenheim U19 coach. Tedesco then stepped into the Leipzig hotseat in the same year that Nagelsmann left the club for Munich.
3) He’s multitalented
Tedesco never made the grade as a player himself, but he had a host of other career options before going full-time in the football industry. A four-week period of work experience in the sports department of a newspaper gave a teenage Tedesco a taste of what a career in journalism would be like. Instead, though, he did a degree in industrial engineering and a masters in Innovation Management.
Football was his real passion, however, and to achieve all that he did at such a young age required some social sacrifices, with Tedesco once telling bundesliga.com: “If you’re studying and simultaneously trying to do your football coaching badges, then you can’t really be out drinking every Friday and Saturday night."
Watch: Domenico Tedesco's magic touch at Leipzig
Prior to becoming a full-time coach, Tedesco also spent some time putting his academic studies to use while working on behalf of a major car manufacturer. Heidel feels that all the life experience the young coach gathered over the years ultimately helped him succeed in his chosen profession.
“There are people who were only in football their whole lives,” Heidel told The Independent in 2018. “They’re also good coaches. I believe though - and I’ve experienced this with Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp - that people who stood in their life on their own two feet have an advantage there.”
4) He’s multilingual
After leaving Schalke in March 2019, Tedesco’s next role saw him pitch up at Spartak Moscow in October that same year. In Russia he once again demonstrated that his early successes were no fluke. In part by improving Spartak’s possession statistics considerably, he helped them finish second in the 2020/21 season.
A mastery of languages has enabled Tedesco to get his message across in different environments. As well as being fluent in German and Italian, he was able to speak English, French and Spanish with his players during his first stint in the Bundesliga. That served him well in Moscow too, although he made sure to learn some Russian as well.
That personal touch, dedication to the game and ability to speak to people in their own language has set Tedesco apart from the rest thanks to his remarkable leadership and it's little wonder that players buy into his management.
“The biggest thing - and what I find the most important - is how you lead people,” he told bundesliga.com while still at Schalke. “How you motivate players to run through brick walls for the club and how you help them make the most of their potential.”
5) He was involved in one of the best Bundesliga games of all time
November 25, 2017 seemed certain to go down as a dark day in Schalke’s history. Sure, the Royal Blues had gone into Matchday 13 second in the standings and only six points behind leaders Bayern Munich, but they found themselves trailing Revierderby rivals Borussia Dortmund 4-0 after just 25 minutes.
Tedesco’s side were lucky not to fall further behind early in the second half, but then something sensational happened. First, Guido Burgstaller found the net on 61 minutes with a header, then four minutes later Amine Harit was left unmarked to make it 4-2. With four minutes on the clock, Daniel Caligiuri weaved his way into the area to smash home a third. Then, in the 94th minute, Naldo rose highest to meet a corner and power home the most dramatic of equalisers.
Watch: The greatest Bundesliga match of all-time?
“It was very quiet,” he told bundesliga.com later that season when describing what the Schalke dressing room was like during the interval. “Obviously the players were a bit and down and sunk in on themselves. I just said first and foremost that I felt sorry for them - they didn’t deserve this but ‘we can still sort it out. We’re there for you as a coaching team - we’ll keep firing you on. I’ll be on my feet for 90 minutes even if it’s 6-0. Now let’s try and win the second half.’”
That they did.
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