Thomas Tuchel: From career-ending injury to world’s best coach

Thomas Tuchel is labelled the best manager on the planet right now, but that did not happen overnight.

Born in Krumbach, the 48-year old started his football career at TSV Krumbach, a club coached by his father Rudolf Tuchel.

He later moved to FC Augsburg academy in 1988, but never played for the first team, and left after he turned 19.

Tuchel signed for Bundesliga side Stuttgarter Kickers in 1992 and played eight games during the 1992–93 season.

After the 1993–94 season, he was dropped from Kickers’ first team, and later joined SSV Ulm. Playing as a central defender, he played for SSV Ulm until being forced to retire in 1998, at age 24, after suffering a knee cartilage injury

In May 2021, Thomas Tuchel announced his name on the global stage helping Chelsea win the prestigious Uefa Champions League, the biggest trophy in European club football, just 4 months after taking over.

“It’s a huge step to arrive in the final, but it’s even bigger one to bite away through,” Tuchel said after winning the Champions League.

In just four months, Tuchel made everybody forget about his predecessor, Chelsea legend, Frank Lampard.

Four months in which Chelsea defeated top teams in England and Europe and they did it without conceding any goal.

Since Tuchel was appointed Chelsea boss in January 2021, the former Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund manager has quickly and quietly become one of the most successful coaches in club football.

Despite only being in the job for a few months, Tuchel secured a place in the top four and masterminded Chelsea’s success in the Champions League.

“He is an outstanding coach,” Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp noted.

“ He is one of the best coaches in the world,” the perfectionist, Pep Guardiola exclaimed.

Read Also: Five things Thomas Tuchel must do to fix Chelsea

Thomas Tuchel

Tuchel never had Klopp’s charisma, Guardiola’s intellectual aura or Diego Simone’s energy, but he learned from all of them and now stands at the top of the coaching pyramid.

The biggest question here is how did Tuchel become the best coach in the world?

Tuchel started his coaching career in 2000 as a youth team coach at VfB Stuttgart, where he piloted in the development of first team players.

In 2005, Tuchel returned to Augsburg, with club sporting director Andreas Rettig noting the club’s admiration of

Tuchel’s tactical discipline led to him being appointed by Augsburg as a youth coach in 2005.

He was hired despite lacking a UEFA Pro Licence, which he gained in a six-and-a-half month course in Cologne.

Tuchel held the position for three years, after being offered the position as first team coach at FC Augsburg II in 2007–08 season.

Back in 2009, Tuchel, an inexperienced youth coach took over at Bundesliga side, Mainz 05 a club where another exciting young coach, Jurgen Klopp, had started his career.

“There are worst things than being compared to Jurgen Klopp,” Tuchel said in a video documentary

“We have known each other for a long time, we have a common history. He worked for Mainz as I did.” Klopp noted,

From his early days as a coach, Tuchel had his eye on the biggest coaches in the game.

Even as he made his first steps in the Bundesliga, Tuchel was learning from the very best.

I don’t want to rest, I want the next one, I want the next success, and I want the next title.

His playing career ended at age 25 due to a knee injury, so he went ahead to study economics and worked at a bar before returning to football as a youth coach and later got a coaching role at Mainz.

“We had our first training session on Tuesday and play our first game on Saturday. The team had knocked out of the cup to a fourth division side. So, I see it as an ideal time to take charge.”

Tuchel led Mainz 05 to 9th place at that time, their best-ever finish. In his second season, Mainz qualified for the Europa League.

In a very short spell, Tuchel turned Mainz 05 into a top team.

“For me, it’s more about passion and desire,” he hinted

Training has always been at the heart of Tuchel’s success, and his methods were revolutionary. For example, to stop his players from relying on long balls out wide, he cut off the corners of the pitch.

“We trained in extremely tight spaces; diamonds and circles that are 18 meters wide and 75 meters long, with two goal posts.

“We have never trained on a full pitch with a full squad.”

Tuchel forced his players to find solutions in tight spaces. That meant when they took to a full pitch for games, they played with greater freedom. His approach is practice makes perfect.

“We aimed to get three points in every game, but our focus is to stay and stick with our game plan.”

Another part of Tuchel’s strategy is to set up to counteract each opponent

Klopp plays high pressing format. Pep prefers tiki-taka, but Tuchel can beat them both by anticipating their every move and finding new tactical innovations. At Mainz, he never played the same formation with the same players twice in a row.

But Tuchel’s biggest problem is the expectation of consistent excellence creates friction with some players.

“You are not here to play our game, just play your game, furious Tuchel said to his players at the training ground

Heinz Muller, a former player said; “What he did to me was 100 percent bullying. He’s a dictator. ”

The cerebral, meticulous perfectionist, Tuchel took over one of the most emotional clubs in the world, Borussia Dortmund.

He was happy to get his hands dirty during a training session and set things up himself.

His strategy worked, Tuchel won more points per game than any other Dortmund coach ever. And in each of his two years with the team, he led them to the cup final, winning it once. He also has the record of best total points of any second-placed team in Bundesliga history.

Tuchel improved his players, the likes of; Mats Hummels, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Marco Royce were at their best in his reign.

Tuchel moved Dortmund away from Klopp’s heavy metal football to a flexible, possession-based game where the man with the ball always has multiple options.

Tuchel left Dortmund and picked up another high-profile job with rich and star-studded French Lique side, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).

It was a different challenge at PSG, managing world-class players and turning them into a formidable team was his biggest challenge.

“From our first conversation, I could tell he is a winner, he always wants to improve and show his best side, ” Neymar said.

Tuchel had a successful stint in PSG, winning his first 14 games in a row for a league record. In his first two seasons, he won two league titles and the French Cup and finished runners up to Bayern in the Champions League. But losing that final went down badly in Paris, and after the team started the following season, poorly Tuchel’s relationship with the media became poor.

“Name one team that scores 4 or five goals in every game, that is impossible, but you always find something negative,” Tuchel said while addressing journalists at a post-match briefing.

PSG owners wanted more and a fallout with the sporting director, Leonardo led to Tuchel’s sack.

His old employers didn’t seem surprised with Dortmund’s Vazquez saying

“Thomas is a difficult person. You can see that in Paris too, but he’s a fantastic coach, ” Hans-Joachim Watzke said.

The numbers show Tuchel was a success at PSG. He won three of every four games.

Here at the Premier League, the toughest league in the world, Tuchel won two points per game in his first half-season at Chelsea.

“ I saw some routines, some fundamentals, some processes that I remember when I faced them in a Borussia Dortmund, ” Pep said.

“It will be tricky to face him, because he’s a good coach.” Klopp in his words about Tuchel.

Tuchel’s obsessive demand means he is never satisfied with success.

“I don’t want to rest, I want the next one, I want the next success, and I want the next title.”

Thomas Tuchel is rated the best manager, but the big question is how long will this rein last?

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