Nicknamed 'Baby Mourinho' early in his coaching career, new Germany boss Julian Nagelsmann has shown he's very much his own man after impressing with Hoffenheim, RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich.
bundesliga.com shines the spotlight on the coaching prodigy who oversaw championship glory in his first season at the helm of Bayern Munich, and who has now been tasked with leading Germany to success at the 2024 European Championship on home soil.
1) Record breaker
Nagelsmann was just 28 when he was appointed as head coach of Hoffenheim in February 2016, taking over from veteran tactician Huub Stevens, who resigned due to health issues. Nagelsmann was already scheduled to take charge later that summer, but brought forward his arrival to fill the void. The club were in 17th place and seemingly set to go down at the time, but he lifted them to safety by the end of the campaign.
Nagelsmann later made European history when he took Leipzig to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals shortly after his 33rd birthday. He's the youngest coach to reach the final four, surpassing Didier Deschamps' previous record of 35 years, and did so by knocking out Atletico Madrid and Diego Simeone, who made his senior debut as a player the year Nagelsmann was born. It's also worth remembering that Nagelsmann is actually a month younger than Lionel Messi.
Watch: Nagelsmann, the revolutionary coach
2) In Bayern's top 5
Nagelsmann signed a five-year deal at Bayern; that his tenure ended after just 18 months does not mean it should be written off as a failure though. He won the 2021/22 Bundesliga title with three games to spare, and over the course of his time at the Allianz Arena boasts a points per game record of 2.16. That puts him in the all-time top five of Bayern bosses, ahead of the likes of 2012/13 treble-winning coach Jupp Heynckes and 2000/01 UEFA Champions League-winning tactician Ottmar Hitzfeld.
3) Training-ground innovator
Hoffenheim are one of the few clubs in the world to use the 'Footbonaut' to fine-tune their players' touch and control, but Nagelsmann took the use of technology in training even further. As well as using drones to film his squad's movement, he had a giant videowall installed on the halfway line of their main training pitch.
The system works with four cameras, two from a tower high above the halfway line and one behind each goal. The feed from each camera can be shown on the screen at any time and the cameras are controlled by the training staff, giving them the opportunity to stop, rewind or fast-forward the footage to show the players particular points of interest. It gave Nagelsmann the chance to explain situations in far more detail with four angles at his disposal.
4) Famous role models
Although Nagelsmann cites former Bayern coach Pep Guardiola as a source of inspiration, he acknowledges erstwhile Borussia Dortmund boss and current Bayern supremo Thomas Tuchel as having the biggest influence on him. While Augsburg reserve-team coach during the 2007/08 season, Tuchel gave Nagelsmann the task of scouting upcoming opponents. "That was my way into coaching," Nagelsmann explained. "I learned a lot from him."
Tuchel was equally complimentary of his young protege. "He's a very inquisitive and very hardworking young coach," he said when Nagelsmann got the Hoffenheim job. "He enjoyed exceptional successes in youth football. I'm very happy for him and I believe in him."
5) Tactical versatility
Nagelsmann’s two seasons with Leipzig proved a nightmare for Bundesliga Fantasy managers. He drilled his former team to be capable of playing in any number of formations, from back threes or fours, to a target man up front or no centre-forward at all.
While he was perhaps more predictable with his team selections at Bayern, it's something that still makes his sides incredibly tough to anticipate for observers and opposition alike. Even when line-ups are released, it’s sometimes not clear exactly what he intends to do with those 11 players.
And he’s not afraid to make changes early within games, both tactical and personnel, when he realises the original plan is not working as thought. There are few coaches out there capable of creating such fluid and versatile teams.
Unsurprisingly, there are shades of Tuchel, among others, in Nagelsmann’s playing philosophy. "I like to attack the opponents near their own goal because your own path to the goal is not as long if you get the ball higher up," he said. "I like the way Villarreal play and they have a great way of coaching young players. I also like Barcelona and Arsenal as well as the work of Arsene Wenger."
Watch: Analysing Nagelsmann's Bayern Munich
Nagelsmann has long been a deep thinker. He started studying a business degree but dropped out before completing his bachelor's degree in sports and training science instead. As if that were not enough, he was awarded an A grade in is professional coaching license, finishing second in his class behind former Schalke and Leipzig coach Domenico Tedesco.
Furthermore, Nagelsmann's know-how in the Hoffenheim dugout impressed Germany's football community to such an extent that he was voted Coach of the Year for 2016. It also contributed to former Leipzig boss Ralf Rangnick recruiting him for Die Roten Bullen in time for the 2019/20 campaign.
7) Injury heartache
Born in the Bavarian town of Landsberg am Lech, Nagelsmann played for 1860 Munich's youth sides. While former team-mates Christian Träsch and Fabian Johnson went on to establish themselves in the Bundesliga, a knee injury sustained shortly after he had joined Augsburg cruelly ended Nagelsmann's ambitions of joining them, aged just 20.
"At first, I didn't want anything more to do with football," Nagelsmann, a defender in his playing days, said. "It was very sad for me that I had to end my career so young."
8) The Nagelsmann table
Such was the fascination with the young, rookie coach in the first year of his tenure that German media began keeping a 'Nagelsmann table', highlighting how his record stacked up against those of other clubs. While most outlets have long since given up keeping score, it still makes for impressive reading.
Over the course of 116 games between his debut on Matchday 21 in February 2016 and the conclusion of his time at Hoffenheim at the end of the 2018/19 season, Hoffenheim earned a total of 191 points. To put that into context, only Bayern (279), and Dortmund (228) won more over the same period, with big teams such as Bayer Leverkusen (182), Borussia Mönchengladbach (170) and Schalke (158) some way behind.
9) Smooth European operator
Nagelsmann also impressed in the dugout on European nights at Bayern, and not only for his fashion choices. He won all 12 UEFA Champions League group stage matches, which — added to the two he tallied in his final continental outings in with Leipzig — saw him equal the competition record of Louis van Gaal. Knocked out in the 2021/22 quarter-finals by Villarreal, he left the club ahead of another last-eight tie having orchestrated a 3-0 aggregate win over Paris Saint-Germain in the Round of 16.
10) Common Goal
Nagelsmann's success has not gone to his head, however. Quite the opposite in fact. In October 2017 he became the first head coach in world football to sign up to the Common Goal initiative, a project in which footballers pledge at least one per cent of their wages to a collective fund managed by Berlin-based non-governmental organisation streetfootballworld.
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