At the age of just 40, Edin Terzic is on the brink of becoming the first Borussia Dortmund coach to lead his team to the Bundesliga title since Jürgen Klopp in 2012.
1) He's a student of the game
Born in 1982 to parents who had emigrated from Yugoslavia, Terzic was raised in the town of Menden - about a half-hour drive from the home of five-time Bundesliga champions BVB. A forward in his youth, he played as a semi-pro in the regional leagues to help pay for his sports science studies at Ruhr University in Bochum. It was while on that course that he met his wife Kora and current Germany U20 head coach Hannes Wolf.
Both men would soon end up working at Dortmund, with Terzic rewarded for learning the ins and outs of coaching from a relatively young age.
"I studied for my UEFA A Licence and met the chief scout of Borussia Dortmund, and a couple of months later he called me and offered me a job," he once explained on the West Ham website. "In 2010, I stopped playing and started working as a coach with Dortmund."
2) He worked under Jürgen Klopp
Dortmund fans won't need reminding that 2010 was a pretty good time to be around the club. Current Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp had arrived at the 1997 European champions two years earlier, and slowly began building a squad capable of challenging for top honours.
Terzic, meanwhile, began combining his role as a scout with helping out his old pal Wolf - who would go on to become head coach of VfB Stuttgart and Hamburg - as assistant coach of BVB's U17, U19, and U23 teams.
While he was learning his trade and identifying players who could improve the first team, Terzic also got to see how Klopp's side - spearheaded by Mario Götze, Mats Hummels and Robert Lewandowski - took Germany and Europe by storm. Dortmund won back-to-back league titles between 2010 and 2012 - as well as the DFB Cup in 2012 - before losing 2-1 to Bayern Munich in the 2013 UEFA Champions League final at Wembley.
Watch: How Klopp transformed Dortmund
3) He worked in the English Premier League
Terzic had just been appointed the Dortmund U16 head coach when - a couple of weeks into the summer of 2013 - he informed the club of an offer he felt was too good to turn down.
It came about because of a chance encounter some time previously. With a mother from Croatia, Terzic would have felt at home when he arrived in the country on a scouting mission for BVB. Over dinner, an agent he met there said he would introduce him to his brother - who turned out to be then Croatia manager Slaven Bilic.
"I didn't think about it until I was at a game in Sweden and three days before the European Championship in 2012 I got a phone call," Terzic told the West Ham website.
"I didn't respond. Then I got another phone call and didn't respond. Then I got a message: 'Please call me back. Regards, Slaven Bilic.'"
"So I thought I'd better call back! I called back, and that's the story of how we met each other in 2012."
When former Karlsruher, Everton and West Ham defender Bilic was appointed manager of Turkish top-flight side Besiktas in 2013, he invited Terzic to join him.
Two years later, the pair linked up again in London when Bilic moved to West Ham. They led the Hammers to seventh and 11th-placed finishes in the Premier League between August 2015 and November 2017.
"For someone of my age and my background, it was unbelievable to have those experiences," Terzic told Ruhr Nachrichten. "The time I spent in Turkey and England was very valuable for me."
4) He's loved by his players
Terzic took over from Lucien Favre on an interim basis midway through 2020/21, and revitalised a Dortmund team which was struggling to spark into life. Under his guidance, BVB clinched the DFB Cup title and qualified for the UEFA Champions League.
That success came from Terzic's management style, which saw him get the best out of the likes of Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho and club captain Marco Reus, and the harmony in the dressing room was one of the main reasons for their transformation.
"Edin Terzic did a great job. He took over the team in December when it was half dead and he brought it to life," said Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke. "We play at high intensity, with new energy and new life," echoed American star Gio Reyna.
In 2021/22, Terzic moved into the newly created role of technical director and extended his contract until 2025, with Marco Rose coming in as head coach. However, the former Borussia Mönchengladbach boss was relieved of his duties after only a season in charge, and Terzic was offered the top job. The Dortmund hierarchy hoped his popularity with players and fans, plus his long-term experience at the club, would allow them to launch a stronger title bid in 2022/23.
It turned out to be perfect move at the perfect time. Despite BVB going into the long winter break in sixth, sparkling form in 2023 saw them surge right to the top of the table as they smashed in 56 goals in 18 matches. Terzic was able to integrate thrilling youngsters like Karim Adeyemi and Donyell Malen while retaining the benefits of experienced hands like Reus and Hummels.
"You cannot possibly buy a moment like this," said Terzic ahead of the decisive final game against Mainz, knowing a win would secure the title. "We have worked hard for this, we've suffered and shed a lot of sweat," he added, paying tribute to his players' season-long efforts.
5) He's Dortmund through and through
When Terzic took over from Favre in December 2020 at the age of 38, it represented a huge opportunity. It was also a rather surreal experience for someone so attached to the club.
"It's an unbelievable situation," he said at his first press conference. "Most people know that I come from the region. I was born 30 kilometres from here, and I came to the stadium for the first time as a nine-year-old. After that it was clear which team my heart was beating for! But despite that, I never dared dream that I would find myself in such a position at the club."
Having started out as a fan in the Südtribüne, little could Terzic have imagined he would work his way up the ranks - academy coach, scout, assistant coach, caretaker manager, technical director and finally head coach - and put himself in a position to deliver the club's sixth Bundesliga title.
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