Julian Schuster spent 10 years on Freiburg's books as a player, and has remained at the club since hanging up his boots in July 2018. - © Thomas Niedermueller/Bundesliga
Julian Schuster spent 10 years on Freiburg's books as a player, and has remained at the club since hanging up his boots in July 2018. - © Thomas Niedermueller/Bundesliga

Julian Schuster: Who is Christian Streich's successor as Freiburg head coach?


Julian Schuster will be the Freiburg first-team coach for the 2024/25 season after it was announced he will replace the legendary Christian Streich as boss in the Black Forest at the end of the current campaign.

bundesliga.com gives you the lowdown on the man who has big boots to fill as Streich ends a glorious 29-year association with Freiburg.

Schuster appointed Streich's successor

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While only time will tell whether Schuster is a better coach than Streich, he was certainly a better player. Where Streich managed just 22 Bundesliga 2 games for Freiburg, Schuster played 34, and also 185 in the top flight, the majority of which came under Streich.

Streich had no hesitation in handing Schuster the captain's armband in one of his first major decisions after he took charge in January 2012, and he wore it in virtually every single one of his 115 Bundesliga games under his long-time boss. Used primarily as a defensive midfielder, Schuster's pitch-wide vision of the game and impressive passing range - allied with his natural combativeness - meant Streich also employed him as a sweeper.

"As a player, I was never fast and never strong," Schuster said, before explaining exactly why he was always captain and coach-in-the-making material. "Analysis was my way to be better than others."

Watch: Freiburg's Christian Streich - end of an era

"It was as clear as day for me that 'Schusti' would become a coach one day, and I would be very surprised if he wasn't successful," said former Freiburg teammate Nils Petersen. "His matchday team talks were always unbelieveably clear, motivating and meaningful. When he spoke up, the dressing room was quiet."

He ended his career in 2018, 10 years after it had started by making two short Bundesliga appearances for Freiburg's regional rivals VfB Stuttgart in the 2007/08 season. But his impact on the club could be - and is still being - felt.

When hotel personnel in Hamburg congratulated Streich on the friendliness of his players after last season's DFB Cup win over HSV, the Freiburg coach cited Schuster and his former teammate, the Slovakia international Karim Guédé, who had watched the cup semi-final standing among the travelling fans, as having had a particular influence on the current squad.

"We have players who have an impact," said Streich, citing the example of Guédé - now a scout for Freiburg - and Schuster as having been ideal role models for the likes of Christian Günter and Nicolas Höfler when they started their careers. "That then has an impact. That's why people often say that they find us nice."

Julian Schuster (l.) has been a key figure in helping young players transition from the academy to the first team, like midfielder Merlin Röhl (r.). - IMAGO/Joeran Steinsiek

Since, Schuster has been groomed to be Streich's successor, working as the link between the club's youth academy and the professional ranks for the last six years in a role that he has shaped himself.

"We really started with a blank piece of paper," said Schuster of the position, which has given him invaluable insight into how many members of his first-team squad - as well as those who may join it from the youth academy - tick.

"We speak openly and honestly about things with each other. Often it's personal questions: How is the player? How does he see himself and where does he need support? The boys can come whenever they want and talk about issues that are of concern to them. Mutual trust is the basis for that."

That will serve him well in his new job, as will his UEFA Pro Licence, which he obtained in February this year. He has also benefitted from Streich's "unlimited trust" in his former player, and his soon-to-be-predecessor's fierce determination to prevent other clubs from poaching his protégé.

"He's so closely connected with SC Freiburg. Other clubs shouldn't get the idea that they can take him away from here." If they did have that thought, they'll certainly have to re-think their strategy now.

Schuster was given a hero's send-off upon his retirement from playing in 2018. - Laegler/ Eibner-Pressefoto

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The Freiburg fans hold Schuster in such great esteem that they still frequently sing the song they had for him while he was still playing. "I've made peace with the song," said Schuster, who is called "a rogue" in the lyrics.

"Of course I appreciate that the fans are still singing it. But you can also think of songs for other players. I also like to sing along to them." Will they keep singing it when he's the boss?

What they're saying

"The coaching position at Freiburg is both an issue close to my heart and a challenge at the same time. I would like to thank those responsible for their trust, but also Christian Streich and all the SC coaches who have accompanied me to this point for their close and intensive collaboration." - Schuster on his appointment in March 2024

"His expertise, his personality and his comprehensive identification with the philosophy and values of SC Freiburg were decisive criteria for us. Over the past six years, he has done valuable work with our young players as assistant and liaison coach and knows the inner workings of the club." - Freiburg managing director Jochen Saier of Schuster's appointment

“The way he has embodied Freiburg, he is a piece, a part of the club. And if I no longer work here at some point, then I would wish that Julian would still be there…" - Christian Streich in 2017

"As a player, Julian was already the longest extension of a coach's arm I have ever seen." - Former Freiburg teammate Nils Petersen