Nenad Bjelica will lead Union Berlin after being named the capital club's new coach. - © Jerko Grubisic via
Nenad Bjelica will lead Union Berlin after being named the capital club's new coach. - © Jerko Grubisic via

Union Berlin look to new coach Nenad Bjelica to reverse season fortunes


Union Berlin have moved to fill the void left by departing coach Urs Fischer by appointing former Kaiserslautern midfielder Nenad Bjelica to the Eisernen helm.

The Osijek, Croatia native was most recently in charge of Turkish Süper Lig side Trabzonspor and brings plenty of coaching experience to his new role at The Irons. The 52-year-old's immediate task will be to steer the capital club out of the Bundesliga's relegation zone, with a game against Bayern Munich representing the most challenging of starts for Union's new tactician this weekend.   

“Union is a very well-run club in one of the top leagues in Europe; my job is to lead the team out of a difficult phase and bring out their strengths again," the one-time Croatian Footballer of the Year said on his unveiling at his new club. “I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

"In Nenad Bjelica, we have been able to attract an experienced coach who has worked successfully in various countries," Union president Dirk Zingler explained. "He has a clear idea of ​​how he wants to lead our team and what type of football they should play; we are entrusting him with the task of leading the team to success again." 

A former Croatian international midfielder, Bjelica spent a large part of his playing career in Spain before joining Kaiserslautern in 2001. He made 65 Bundesliga appearances across four seasons for the Red Devils, scoring five goals and providing nine assists. 

Union's new tactician began his coaching career with various lower ranked clubs in Austria, once taking Wolfsberger AC from the third tier to the country's top division. He later led Austria Wien to the Champions League group stages. He would go on to enjoy stints in charge of Spezia in Italy and Polish side Lech Poznań.

Bjelica's highlights as coach of Dinamo Zagreb between 2018-20, meanwhile, included league and cup winning honours as well as qualification for the UEFA Europa League knockout rounds and a return to feature in the Champions League. 

Nenad Bjelica enjoyed four seasons playing for Kaiserslautern in the Bundesliga. - Christof Koepsel

Union parted ways with previous coach Fischer after a run of 14 games without a win - which included 13 defeats - left the side battling in the Bundesliga's bottom three. The Swiss tactician had previously been in charge of the Berliners since 2018, achieving promotion to the Bundesliga and an eventual top-four finish that saw the team qualify for the Champions League for the first time in their history.   

Bjelica's first assignment will be to prepare his new side for the Matchday 13 trip to face the reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern at the Allianz Arena this Saturday.