He may look more like a rock star than a football coach, but Martin Schmidt is the man masterminding 1. FSV Mainz 05's remarkable rise to the upper echelons of the Bundesliga standings.
The Swiss tactician took the reins at the Coface Arena after the departure of Kasper Hjulmand in February 2015 with Mainz sitting 14th in the standings and in real danger of dropping into the second tier.
With Schmidt at the helm, the 05ers went on to finish 2014/15 in the safety of 11th, recording a famous victory over local rivals Eintracht Frankfurt in his first game in charge. It has been in 2015/16, however, that Schmidt has begun really to leave his mark.
bundesliga.com takes a look at the 48-year-old's rise to fame...
What is his background and at what level did he play football?
Born in Naters in the Swiss canton of Wallis on 12 April 1967, Schmidt took his first footballing steps with local club FC Naters, whom he joined in 1976. He would go on to play for the club in the lower leagues until 1998, but his playing career was cruelly curtailed by no fewer than seven different cruciate knee ligament injuries. Such is his affinity to his homeland, though, that his Mainz squad camped in the Alps at 2,700 metres as a bonding exercise over the winter break, before Schmidt introduced the players to his family. According to British newspaper The Guardian, Schmidt is also a childhood friend of new FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
Here's where the boys spent the night last night, up at 2,700 metres in Switzerland! ⛺️ pic.twitter.com/E8568U2WJD— 1. FSV Mainz 05 (@Mainz05en) January 5, 2016
What did he do after he retired from football, then?
While Schmidt made his name in football as a talented youth coach as opposed to a player, he is a man of many talents off the field of play. A trained mechanic, he managed a successful garage for ten years and, if that was not enough, until recently he was also still involved in the running of a textile company with his three sisters - as well as once trying his hand at ski instructing. As a youngster, Schmidt earned his pocket money tending his family's cows and sheep.
When did his coaching career take off?
Schmidt made his professional coaching debut with FC Raron in 2001 and later coached Swiss Super League FC Thun's youth side between 2008 and 2010 - securing promotion with both. Thomas Tuchel was so impressed with Thun's defensive organisation that he offered him a role in Mainz's youth set-up. Schmidt accepted the post as coach of Mainz's U-23 side and enjoyed notable success, winning another promotion - this time to Germany's third tier in 2014 - and blooding the likes of 2014 FIFA World Cup winner Erik Durm, Yunus Malli, Stefan Bell and Shawn Parker.
What are his strengths as a coach?
When Schmidt took over, Mainz sporting director Christian Heidel said that he had the "tactical discipline, aggression, passion, fighting spirit and application to develop the team and give it the impulse that it has lacked in the last few months", before going on to state how important it was that the new man knows the club inside-out. "He's known the club, the team and our way of playing for five years and has contributed to its development." In the year since his arrival, Schmidt has impressed in returning Mainz to the high-pressing, hard-running football for which they were famed under his predecessors Tuchel and Jürgen Klopp. Furthermore, the Swiss has proved an astute man-manager, bringing the best out of Malli and Japan international Yoshinori Muto.
What has he achieved since taking charge?
Appointed with Mainz a point above the relegation zone in February 2015, Schmidt led Die Nullfünfers to a comfortable mid-table finish. It has been this season, however, the Swiss has really caught the eye. The club from the capital of Rhineland-Palatinate ended the Hinrunde in eighth, but began the Rückrunde with impressive home wins over Borussia Mönchengladbach, Schalke and Bayer 04 Leverkusen. The icing on the cake came on Matchday 24 when Schmidt's troops produced a classic smash-and-grab performance at the Allianz Arena to inflict FC Bayern München's first home defeat of the season. Jairo Samperio and Jhon Cordoba grabbed the goals either side of Arjen Robben's strike, securing a result that has inspired genuine belief that Schmidt and company can qualify for Europe for only the fourth time in the club's history.