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Hansi Flick and Thomas Tuchel are proving Germany coaches are a class apart 

To really understand why German managers are outperforming their European rivals, you need to go to Cologne, specifically to the city of Bonn.

Bonn is most famous for being home to Beethoven House, a museum to mark the iconic composer’s birthplace.  In footballing terms, the game’s best flock to Bonn for more than just music.

There you find the Hennes-Weisweiler Academy, the location of the most prestigious coaching course in the country. It is so successful it makes a case to be the world’s leader. 

Those who pass through the rigorous 11-month course have been setting the standards for peers dating back to 1947. Sunday’s Champions League finalists Hansi Flick and Thomas Tuchel have graduated, as has RB Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann and title-winning Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. Their successes are no fluke.

To win a place on the course is no mean feat in itself. It is, for good reason, fiendishly tough to get in. Each year 24 bosses are inducted.

The aim is simple. The journey to get there is far from it.  

Graduates work tirelessly over the span of 11 months to take the honorific title of Fußball-Lehrer, translated as ‘Football Teacher’. 

UEFA’s Pro Licence course typically requires 240 hours work from bosses to complete the course and earn the elite coaching badge.  At the Hennes-Weisweiler Academy it is expected that 800 hours are completed before graduating.  

As of 2013, it was recorded that 1,000 managers in the country possessed the Pro Licence. 

And so it should come as little surprise to see German managers top of the class right now. 

Take Flick and his unorthodox route to the Academy and then to Sunday’s final in Lisbon. 

He turned down an offer to join Stuttgart to complete an apprenticeship as a bank clerk aged 18. 

Flick, now 55, made more than 100 appearances in Bayern’s midfield but was hampered by injury. He left in 1990, made less than 50 appearances for Cologne before he called time on his playing career at 27. The decision was made to open a sports shop with his wife while he began coaching amateur side Victoria Bammental.

A move to Hoffenheim followed in 2000, winning promotion to the fourth tier. Three years into his tenure he graduated from the Hennes-Weisweiler Academy.

The study fascinated Flick an it was working as an assistant and sporting director under Giovanni Trappatoni at Red Bull Salzburg in 2006 that he credits as being critical to his developing tactical philosophy. 

Being behind the scenes suited Flick then. The former bank clerk could educate himself, build up his philosophies before he stunned rivals with a near faultless showing as the main man back at Bayern. 

Assistant to Joachim Low from 2006 with the German national team again aided his development. He learned how to win, toasting the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. 

Despite only spending five years as a head coach before Bayern, when he was asked to step up from his role as assistant due to the self-imploding situation under Niko Kovac, he duly obliged. 

What has followed was stunning to everyone but the ‘Football Teachers’ back in Bonn. And it is a similar feeling when they see Tuchel breaking new ground for PSG, Nagelsmann become the hottest managerial property on the planet and Klopp delivering Liverpool their first league title in 30 years.

‘It’s a wonderful moment of success for German football,’ former Germany striker Oliver Bierhoff told Bundesliga.com before the semi-finals.  

‘We’re delighted to have not only two German teams in the semi-finals, but also three German coaches and lots of our international players in the decisive phase of the competition.’ 

Tuchel, class of 2006, and Nagelsmann, class of 2013, joined Flick in making Champions League history just days ago. Never before in the competition has three German managers competed in the last-four. 

The last time two German managers went head-to-head in the final it was 2013 when Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern clinched a treble against Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund side at Wembley. A potential omen for Flick and Tuchel.    

A lot was made of England having all four teams in both European finals last season, only none were coached by an Englishman. 

Liverpool had Klopp (Germany), Tottenham had Mauricio Pochettino (Argentina), Arsenal had Unai Emery (Spain) and Chelsea had Maurizio Sarri (Italy).  

No English manager has won either the Champions League or Premier League since those competitions were rebranded in 1992. Legendary Scottish boss Sir Alex Ferguson held both titles in 1999 and in 2008. But English bosses have found the elite level tough to conquer. 

Technology is a driving force in the game in all leagues as analysis goes deeper and more in-depth on opposition players, tactics and future prospects. 

Nagelsmann’s 2013 class, in which he finished the Academy second behind former Schalke boss Domenico Tedesco, are referred to as the ‘laptop’ generation. Nagelsmann has also been credited with his innovative approaches on the training ground – not least his giant screen to replay drills and tactical shapes to his players. 

At 33 he became the youngest coach to reach a Champions League semi-final last week, ultimately losing out to former mentor Tuchel, who gave him his first taste of coaching back with Augsburg’s reserves 13 years ago.   

One of the key parts of the coaching model in Germany coincided with a shift in approach around 2000. 

Germany had finished bottom of Group A at Euro 2000 and the decision was taken to overhaul their system. The German FA wanted more talented homegrown players and so academies were set up at every side in the top two divisions. 

Each of these youth sides needed coaches and suddenly there was as much emphasis on developing young players as it was on developing young coaches. 

It is no coincidence that both Tuchel and Nagelsmann won promotions from youth team roles to first team management and are thriving.

It may have taken them 800 hours and counting but the rest of Europe could learn plenty from the Football Teachers schooling the rest of the Champions League elite right now.  

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