Stamford Bridge chief Thomas Tuchel was heading for a life in economics before the coaching call came from Manchester United’s interim manager elect, Ralf Rangnick
Thomas Tuchel has hailed the part Manchester United’s incoming interim chief Ralf Ragnick played in saving him from a boring life in economics.
The Chelsea boss is one of the hottest properties in management right now.
But it could all have been so different had his old boss at SSV Ulm not given him a pathway into coaching with VfB Stuttgart.
Tuchel said: “I was a normal student but to make some extra money I worked in a bar once or twice a week, which was actually a fantastic time in my life.
“Ralf called me because he was my former coach. He knew I was in Stuttgart studying.
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“He asked me if I could imagine trying in the academy and I got into contact with the academy.
“I did four months just being a second assistant in the youth academy, and from there I did my licences and I started being a coach with the Under-14s. I still worked in the bar while I was a coach and I still finished my economics studies. But he opened the door.
“At some point, you have to go through the door and you are responsible for yourself to make the very best of opportunities.
“This is what I did because I had people like Ralf who supported me, and so many more, starting with my father and everybody on the way from there in my life.”
Tuchel was at a very low ebb after a knee injury ruined his playing career at the age of 24.
He added: “I felt all over in football when I got the diagnosis and I felt in the rehabilitation process that I would not make it back to my level, which was at that time second, third division level.
“I saw my teammates getting better and better under Ralf and making it to the first league, which was always my dream. It was so close. It was the first time that I came so close to being maybe a first division player in the Bundesliga.
“When that happened, I was angry. I was not depressed or something. I was angry. I felt betrayed and was angry with the situation. I did not know what to do. All my life I dreamed to be a football player.
“When this was not a possibility anymore, I needed to re-focus, which is not always easy.
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“Telling the story from now, it’s easy to tell. But in these moments, to overcome your pride and to go to a bar and work for money and go to university. To meet people who know you and say, ‘Hey, what’s up with you? Don’t you play anymore?’
“You have to swallow your pride and overcome some difficult moments and days of looking into the mirror. But it sharpened my character. It was very, very healthy for me in the end.
“I did not know what to do so I studied economics because I thought my mother can sleep very well once I finish something at university, and do not only start things.
“In football, it’s so much easier than doing it in economics, which is just a decision from the brain but not from your heart. I was lucky to take these decisions.”