Thomas Tuchel’s career ended in heartbreak: ‘I was angry’

Thomas Tuchel previews Chelsea's trip to Southampton

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Today, Chelsea Football Club will be aiming to sign a series of players to help bolster their squad ahead of a huge season for the west Londoners. So far, Chelsea have endured a stuttering start to their campaign, with wins against Everton and Leicester offset with morale-draining losses to Southampton and Leeds. Fans will hope new owner Todd Boehly will dive back into his pockets in order to facilitate more transfers to support the team, and Chelsea’s manager Thomas Tuchel.

The German manager cut a frustrated figure on Tuesday after Chelsea lost on the south coast to Southampton, despite new signing Raheem Sterling grabbing a goal.

Tuchel’s clear annoyance was similar to the fury he felt as a player himself, when his career was agonisingly cut short as a result of an injury.

Reflecting on this in 2010 with The Guardian, Tuchel described the feeling when his footballing dream was ended in 1999, while he was playing for amateur side SSV Ulm.

At the time, the side were being run by ex-Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick, and astonishingly the team had secured a second consecutive promotion to get to the top flight of German football.

But aged 24, Tuchel endured a serious knee injury, which made him leave the game and get a job as a bartender in Stuttgart.

He said: “I was angry with my fate. That was the day I decided to stop working in the bar.”

The day Tuchell recalled was when he finished his degree, and decided to get into management.

Rangnick offered him the chance to learn the trade of being a coach.

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Tuched added: “He allowed me to shadow him as an intern and then I became manager of the Under-14s. That’s how things started.”

The 49-year-old’s desire to make it in football was demonstrated by his old PE teacher, Hans Komm, who taught at Simpert-Kraemer high school.

In 2021, the Guardian reported Komm as saying: “You could see it when he swapped the players on his team around during a volleyball lesson in order to win.

“He showed great discipline when there was an important goal to achieve. I never saw him drink alcohol.

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“He was very friendly.

“But he sometimes talked to his friends in the last row or had to be told off when he juggled the volleyball with his foot.”

His obsession with football has come at a cost however, and Tuchel has previously fallen out with owners of clubs he has managed at like Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain.

Another of his former employers was Christian Heidel, Mainz’s sporting director, where Tuchel’s career in management began.

Heidel described Tuchel as a “footballaholic” in 2021, and was convinced of hiring the aspiring boss when he was Augsburg’s Under-19s coach.

The sporting director said: “He thinks about football 24-7.

“Every training has to be perfect. He plays the game in his head beforehand.

“He needs everything to go according to plan, especially tactical discipline – where the players are standing, where they have to go.

“This makes it very hard to play against teams coached by Thomas.”

Among the targets Tuchel will be aiming to bring in are former Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is currently plying his trade in Spain with FC Barcelona.

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