Werder Bremen's Florian Kohfeldt has been named Germany's Coach of the Year for 2018 by the German Football Association (DFB), becoming the tenth recipient of the award since its inception in 2009.
The 36-year-old has done an excellent job of turning around Bremen's fortunes since taking over from Alexander Nouri on a permanent basis in November 2017, when the club were languishing down in 17th place. In his first six months in charge he successfully steered the Green-Whites to safety, overseeing an impressive run of six wins in eight games as they finished the campaign comfortably clear of the relegation zone in 11th.
Kohfeldt's charges then made a stellar start to 2018/19, winning five and drawing two of their first eight outings to spark hopes of a first European campaign since 2010/11. Bremen are currently sixth in the table – the final UEFA Europa League spot – after wins over Schalke, Bayer Leverkusen and Mainz, while they saw off the Royal Blues for a second time to reach the DFB Cup semi-finals after ousting Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16.
"I'm delighted with this award, it's a great honour and acknowledgement," Kohfeldt said after being presented with the prize in Cologne on Thursday, at a ceremony marking the end of the DFB's 65th football coaching course. "It's recognition not just for me but also for my coaching staff, the whole team, and everybody who works for the team."
The Coach of the Year judging panel attaches particular importance to the development of young players, and Kohfeldt – who finished top of his DFB coaching course in 2014/15 – has certainly delivered on that front.
Maximilian Eggestein (22) has emerged as one of the Bundesliga's best young midfielders this term, playing in every game and contributing five goals and three assists, which recently earned him a first call-up to the Germany squad. His younger brother Johannes (20), a Germany U21 international, has also shown flashes of his potential, netting three times in 19 appearances. Meanwhile USA starlet Josh Sargent (19) has been shrewdly eased into life in the fast lane, scoring goals in early substitute appearances against Fortuna Düsseldorf and RB Leipzig before making his first Bundesliga start against VfB Stuttgart in February.
"Florian Kohfeldt already showed during his DFB course in 2014/15 that he is an outstanding coach," enthused DFB president Reinhard Grindel. "He has a keen sense for developing young talents, as well as dealing with older players, who are not always easy to manage. Under him, Werder Bremen are playing fresh, exciting and successful football. I'm sure his coaching career in the Bundesliga has only just begun."
"It's remarkable how naturally Florian Kohfeldt has become such a popular figure in the Bundesliga," added DFB national team coordinator Oliver Bierhoff. "His enthusiasm is infectious, and the players rave about his open and genuine manner. It's fantastic for Werder Bremen, who have been rewarded for once again putting their faith in a coach from within their ranks."
Kohfeldt spent several years coaching children and youngsters at his hometown club TV Jahn Delmenhorst before joining Bremen back in 2006. He was put in charge of various youth teams until 2014, when he became assistant coach of the club's reserves. Two years later he took over from Viktor Skripnik as reserves coach, before being promoted to the top job by sporting director Frank Baumann in 2017.
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The University of Bremen graduate joins an impressive list of tacticians to have won the accolade over the past decade, including former Mainz and Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel (2010), now of Paris Saint-Germain, Schalke U19s guru Norbert Elgert (2013) and current Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann (2016).
Bremen's home-grown head honcho will now be hoping to celebrate his Coach of the Year success with the club's supporters by attempting to secure a first European campaign in nine years for the four-time Bundesliga champions.