Thomas Tuchel (l.) is once again following in the footsteps of Jürgen Klopp (r.) by taking over a Borussia Dortmund next season
Thomas Tuchel (l.) is once again following in the footsteps of Jürgen Klopp (r.) by taking over a Borussia Dortmund next season

Klopp paving Tuchel's path to glory

Dortmund - Thomas Tuchel is set to fit into the large boots left by Jürgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund in the summer with history showing there could be room to spare when he sets foot through the BVB door.

Klopp's Mainz legacy

When Klopp announced in 2008 that he would be resigning as coach of 1. FSV Mainz 05, the tears he shed in an emotional speech in front of 20,000 fans in a packed Gutenbergplatz in Mainz's city centre said everything.

Tears filled the eyes of every one of those fans as they bid farewell to a man they had worshipped, as a player and then coach, for 18 years. They had just missed out on promotion back to the Bundesliga, but the Mainz faithful nevertheless stood there, reflecting on the most successful era in the club's history.

"Everything I am, everything I can do is thanks to you," said Klopp with a failing voice before the emotion overwhelmed him. Klopp had led Mainz's first ever ascent into Germany's top flight, keeping them there for three years and also guiding them into the UEFA Cup as fair play winners in 2005/06. It could not get any better, surely.

'Living my dream'

Following their relegation in 2007, Klopp vowed to do all he could to lead them back to the top table. Failure in that endeavour saw him walk away, with a very heavy heart. "I've no longer got any control over my emotions," he said after a packed Bruchwegstadion gave him and his team one more ovation following a rendition of 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.

Jörn Andersen led Mainz back into the big time the following season, but behind the scenes the club were carving away at another raw gem who would eventually succeed Andersen before the Bundesliga season started. It was Thomas Tuchel, fresh from guiding the club's youth team to the German title. "I'm living my dream here now," said the then 35-year-old, becoming the Bundesliga's youngest ever head coach.

Raising the bar

Since being forced to end his career due to a knee injury, Tuchel knew his future was in leading from the sidelines. He earned his coaching stripes in 2007, having worked with the U15s and U19s at VfB Stuttgart. He then led FC Augsburg's youth team, taking full responsibility for the Bavarian club's youth academy, before moving to Mainz in 2008 and celebrating his biggest achievement there a year later.

Although he was directly replacing Andersen – just five days before the start of the season to boot – the man he was really being measured up against was Klopp, who had defined a seemingly unrepeatable era at the Hessian club. It was some challenge, but one Tuchel rose to, beating FC Bayern München 2-1 in only his third match at the helm to give the fans a taste of things to come.

Leaving a legacy

Seven wins in a row at the start of the 2010/11 campaign established a new club record, and their reward at the end of the season was a place in the UEFA Europa League on the back of their highest ever finish. Keeping Mainz in the top flight for six seasons and qualifying once again for Europe at the end of his final year in charge ensured Tuchel's legacy was at least as eminent as Klopp's, if not more.

Now, following a year-long break, he is stepping once again into Klopp's boots for his next challenge. Back-to-back Bundesliga wins, a berth in the UEFA Champions League final – these are his predecessor's achievements that he will now be judged on. But having succeeded once in raising the bar left by Klopp, few would bet against him doing so again as another moving Klopp farewell could be followed by tears of a different kind at the Signal Iduna Park.

Ben Gladwell