Thomas Tuchel admits not feeling strangely affected by the bomb explosions that rocked his first Champions League campaign.
âAbsolutely surreal,â says the Chelsea head coach, as he returns in April 2017. âSomehow I was happy to help my players and to be with them on the moment, but it didn’t grab me like it grabbed the others, I have to say.
âYet until today, I don’t feel the danger we were in. I can still see the nails hammered into the bus. I can see the nails sticking where I even sat. And in the middle [of the bus] and at the end and at the front.
Thomas Tuchel was unaffected by the explosions that rocked his first Champions League campaign
Borussia Dortmund bus targeted as it brought the team to their quarter-final against Monaco
Chelsea boss (far right) says his main concern was being there for his Dortmund players
âI heard that the nails went beyond 50 meters and then penetrated other windows of houses and other things. Hope it doesn’t come someday, but I don’t think about it when I get on buses or when I walk through a crowd.
‘Somehow not. I don’t expect it. I don’t want that to come. But it was totally surreal and it is until today. ‘
Tuchel, who will lead Chelsea to the Champions League final against Manchester City in Porto, was in charge of Borussia Dortmund at the time.
They were roaming the streets of Dortmund for the first leg of their quarter-final, at home against Monaco, when three homemade bombs, filled with metal bolts and nails, exploded on the road.
Defender Marc Bartra broke a wrist, a police officer sustained inner ear damage and luckily there were no other casualties from the attack. UEFA postponed the game until the next day. Monaco won 3-2.
Sergej Wenergold (above) was convicted of 28 counts of attempted murder and sentenced to 14 years in prison
Tuchel said he couldn’t even feel anger for Wenergold when he faced him in court in 2018
Sergej Wenergold had tried to profit by destroying the club’s share price. He is serving a 14-year prison sentence, convicted of 28 counts of attempted murder.
âI was in court once to meet the guy,â Tuchel says. âI even felt a little sorry for him. I couldn’t even feel anger, like “wow, what could you have done?”
âMy wife is telling the story I wrote to tell her everything was fine and not to worry. I went home to find my agent and my wife. They were pretty freaked out and I walked home a bit like a robot, without talking too much about it.
âI sat in front of the TV watching Barcelona against Juventus. She was like, “this is kinda weird”. The biggest impact for me was the next morning when I saw the players and they were waiting for me in my office. That’s when I really realizedâ¦ Wow. ‘
He blows his cheeks and exhales slowly. ‘I might be hiding it somewhere. He’s still there, but he hasn’t had the huge impact you might imagine.
Tuchel’s worldly wisdom and eloquence defined his first four months at Chelsea. His impressive beginnings were the work of a man who understands his trade, who has miles on the clock and who shares his experience.
After having marked the spirits in Germany with Mainz and Dortmund, came the brilliance of Paris Saint-Germain. Two and a half years in the company of football megastars like Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, and a demanding Qatari hierarchy.
Several Dortmund players, including Chelsea star Christian Pulisic, testified during the trial
They reached the Champions League final last year, losing to Bayern Munich, and he’s back with Chelsea. It is the last step in a career grounded in injury disappointment when, at age 25, his own playing career was cut short by a knee injury.
Tuchel studied economics in Stuttgart and found a job at Radio Bar. âIt turned out to be a really cool place,â he says, although he admits he doesn’t know much about music and doesn’t like the taste of beer or wine.
He stays away from alcohol during football season, and lets his hair down with a very occasional gin and tonic.
âIn the basement they were selling skateboards and there was a huge bar downstairs which was an afternoon cafe and a club on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with music on the first and second floors.
âI had to improve. First, I was a glass collector, I picked up empty glasses and bottles with a huge tray and had to learn to carry it over my head when it was full.
âThe next step, because I was safe enough with the tray, I could serve drinks. I would receive them at the bar and take them to the tables, either for free or at double the price depending on my mood.
âLater, after two or two and a half years, I was behind the bar.
The 47-year-old was appointed to Dortmund after making a good impression in Mainz
Tuchel (pictured in Augsburg) saw his playing career cut short by injury
Like Tom Cruise in the 1988 movie Cocktail? âMaybe not like Tom Cruise but I felt like Tom Cruise,â he laughs.
‘It taught me a lot. I was that kid who was a little better than the rest at football, who went to Augsburg, so you’re a bit famous, and maybe play for Germany’s under-18s and have a few days off.
‘Then a second division professional, living in this bubble with a lot of attention, positive feedback and self-confidence. Getting out of this bubble was a hard lesson.
“Admitting that I needed to earn some extra money and go to 10 or 12 cafes and bars to ask them if they needed help because I would love to help, that was a pride to swallow . “
Rather than wishing such real-world experiences to young footballers coming out of illustrious academies with lucrative contracts and the world at their feet, he offers them his sympathy.
âYou can point the finger and say they should have the same lesson, but they also have their lessons.
âThey make so much money, a lot of people like to depend on them and say ‘hey you owe me’ and ‘I’m family’ and ‘I’m your best friend’.
âTo constantly understand that and have such enormous pressure and maybe not being able to go out and out at night, as if I had my evenings and my lazy days without being filmed.
âWhen you were a second division player, it wasn’t life on TV. It’s very, very different. And it is difficult to teach because it remains artificial. I don’t know what would have happened to me if I had earned this amount of money at such a young age.
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âWe can just hope the academy and parents do. And, of course, we will insist that they stay nice and kind and humble, but it’s not that easy. They also have their lessons to learn. They have to take care of it.
Tuchel only signed an 18-month contract when he arrived at Chelsea in January and yet he feels like a natural fit in a role where few linger.
“It’s very easy,” said the 47-year-old, when asked if he would like to stay longer. âI am so happy to be here. I have never felt this good since being in Mainz and it feels like the perfect place and the perfect time for the perfect place.
âAll that will come will come. You can’t force things, but, of course, that’s my point of view and it’s very clear.
In addition to reaching two cup finals and finishing in the Premier League top four, Tuchel has found a pleasant balance in the dressing room, restoring the self-esteem of senior professionals while continuing to develop the graduates of the academy promoted and trusted by its predecessor. Frank Lampard.
âI was brought up very well and protected by my family,â he says. âWe have treated everyone equally. I learned from my parents and my mother, who have worked all their lives with disabled and disadvantaged people, that there are no differences.
Tuchel admits he can be tough and demanding on young players but offers them sympathy
“I try to treat the young man the same way I treat Neymar. But Neymar also gets different treatment. It’s also okay because he deserves it and he needs it.
âIt’s a compromise. The more experienced players may have a closer connection to me, a bit of give and take. With young players, it’s more of a demand. It’s more “hey, I want you to do this”. I can be very tough, very, very demanding.
âI think I have a sensor for that when I cross a line, get too close, too far, I can readjust myself. I am constantly thinking about what I am doing and what I can improve. But I can only do things the way I do them. And I’m not who I am because of my life experiences. ‘