Chelsea face Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash tonight, with one of Tuchel’s former charges exposing everything.
Thomas Tuchel has certainly made an impression at Chelsea, but one of his former teammates, Germany international Andreas Beck, believes the best is yet to come.
The Blues were 10th in the Premier League table when Tuchel took over from Frank Lampard on January 26, with their chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League dwindling quickly after winning only seven points in their previous eight games.
Beck, on the other hand, isn’t shocked in the least. He grew up playing under Tuchel and never doubted that his compatriot had the necessary qualities and character to succeed at the highest level.
“THOMAS WAS THE COACH AT THE UNDER-13 LEVEL WHEN I ARRIVED IN STUTTGART,”
Beck tells Goal. “He was then the head coach when we won the Under-19s title. And if he was ten years older than me, it felt like we had grown up together.
“I went on to play professionally for Stuttgart and Hoffenheim after that, when he was coaching Mainz and then Dortmund. We come into contact with one another on a regular basis.
“‘Go ahead and enjoy yourself,’ some coaches suggest, but Thomas replies, ‘Enjoy yourself, but by giving everything.’ This is the attitude expected to generate champions and win championships. This was my attitude as I won the championships in Stuttgart and Besiktas. The attitude is similar to that of Bayern Munich.
“Yes, you have fun and take pleasure in it, but Tuchel is all about going for it, struggling for it until you are tired, and then telling you to take pleasure in the process. ‘Okay, go ahead and do your easy passing drills, but please approach it as though it were your last move of your career,’ Thomas said to the kids every day.
“IT ISN’T THE EASIEST APPROACH FOR A COACH TO BE THIS DEMANDING AND ALWAYS ASK FOR 100 PER CENT. NOT EVERY PLAYER LIKES IT THAT WAY. BUT THIS IS WHAT I REMEMBERED ABOUT THOMAS AND WHAT I RESPECTED ABOUT HIM.”
Beck really loved playing under the hugely powerful Ralf Rangnick when he was in charge of Hoffenheim, as it always brought out the best of him.
Of course, considering that Rangnick was the one who took Tuchel to Stuttgart in the first place, this isn’t unexpected.
“THEY’RE IDENTICAL, BUT THEY’RE BOTH TWO DIFFERENT CHARACTERS,”
Beck clarifies. “In my career, Ralf was one of the most significant characters. He was a great teacher to me. He’s quite a hard worker.
“Ralf was a true innovator when he joined the Bundesliga. With Hoffenheim, we had this incredible pressing game.
“We played Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund at home, we won 4-1, and I remember Klopp said afterwards ‘We need to play like that!’
“Ralf likes to get good players in but he says that you then have to write software for them. He also gets involved in all parts of the club so they are functioning together.
“What happened in Hoffenheim happened at RB Leipzig after that; it was all his plan.” Ralf has left an imprint on the world, and people will recall him.
“He was an innovator who tried to change things, and now Dortmund and Bayern Munich are chasing the ball.” Pep Guardiola of Manchester City is also doing it.”
Despite enjoying his seven-year tenure at Hoffenheim, Beck jumped at the opportunity to play outside of Germany, and he is now in his second stint abroad, with Eupen in Belgium, after spending two years in Turkey with Besiktas.
“I renewed my contract a few times and became the captain for five years, so I didn’t regret it. But that’s why when the offer for a big club like Besiktas, even though it wasn’t in as big of a league, I had to take it. It was an incredible team and offer and the right decision to go.
“I AM NOW 34, SO TIME IS FLYING. I AM ENJOYING IT AT EUPEN BECAUSE I KNOW ONE DAY IT WILL BE OVER.”