Cologne - Former 1. FSV Mainz 05 head coach Thomas Tuchel says he is counting down the days until he can return to the dugout following an almost 12-month-long sabbatical.

The 41-year-old agreed to honour the terms of his contract when he stepped down at the 05ers after steering the carnival club to a place in the UEFA Europa League qualifying rounds last May, but come the end of June 2015, he’ll be a free agent.

Summer comeback

“My big dream is to start all over again in the summer,” Tuchel told German newspaper die Zeit. “I’d like to stay in Germany. Sure, football in England and Spain attracts me. Italy also has its own unique style. I’ve got huge respect for every other football culture and I’m really curious to give them a go, but I know how important it is to know the language!”

Aside from his German mother tongue, the Krumbach native also speaks good English, but it’s football that has always been his parlance of choice. “I was looking for a job that made me happy, that came easily to me,” he recalled, having dabbled in business economics after his playing career had been cut short by a chronic cartilage injury. “That’s football and that’s my life. It’s my calling.”

Guardiola inspiration

It’s a credo all coaches worth their salt can relate to. FC Augsburg’s Markus Weinzierl and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s Markus Gisdol are just two of the Bundesliga’s most promising tacticians in the Tuchel mould - dedicated to their craft, tactically astute and eager to learn - but it’s the work of decorated FC Bayern München pedant Pep Guardiola that has become the benchmark for conceivably Mainz’s most successful head coach of all time.

“Outstanding, schematic use of the ball, brilliant individuals like Lionel Messi and top stars putting in the grittiest, most diligent defensive efforts I’ve ever seen,” Tuchel recalled. “I learned everything about the game - especially during Guardiola’s time at Barcelona.”

What's not to like?

Tuchel became a celebrated coach in his own right after replacing Jörn Andersen at Mainz in August 2009. He took them into Europe for the second time in the club’s history in 2011 and repeated the feat in 2013/14, thanks in large part to a modus operandi like no other.

“There’s definitely a style that’s been attributed to me, that we brought to the table at Mainz: pace going forward and attack-minded football,” he explained. “I prefer certain qualities, an active playing style, bold defending and pacy play in attack. That’s why any club that’s interested in me will ask themselves whether this is the man for the job.”

Christopher Mayer-Lodge