BERLIN (AP) — Germany hired Julian Nagelsmann to lead the men’s national soccer team on Friday, entrusting the former Bayern Munich coach with doing a better job than the last Bayern Munich coach who tried.
The German soccer federation said Nagelsmann was taking over on a short-term contract through next year's European Championship. Germany is hosting the tournament.
“We have a European Championship in our own country. This is something special, something that only happens every few decades," Nagelsmann said. "Having a great tournament in a great country is the priority. I’m very keen to take on this challenge ... We will be a close-knit bunch next year.”
At 36, Nagelsmann is the youngest Germany coach since 34-year-old Otto Nerz was appointed in 1926.
Nagelsmann succeeds Hansi Flick, the first Germany coach ever fired from the position. The federation removed Flick on Sept. 10, the day after a 4-1 loss to Japan stretched the team’s losing run to three games and its winless run to five.
Nagelsmann previously took over from Flick when he became Bayern coach in 2021 with Flick leaving to coach the national team. Nagelsmann led his team to another Bundesliga title — its 10th straight — but was fired by the Bavarian powerhouse in March amid management concerns that he wasn’t getting the best from the squad.
Germany next has friendlies against the United States in East Hartford, Connecticut, on Oct. 14, then Mexico in Philadelphia four days later. The team will continue its Euro 2024 preparations against Austria in Vienna on Nov. 21.
Nagelsmann had a five-year contract with Bayern — despite being removed as coach — and his salary demands had reportedly been a sticking point for the federation. Kicker magazine said that Bayern agreed to terminate the contract and that Nagelsmann was accepting lower pay to take charge of the national team.
Flick had led Bayern to back-to-back league titles but struggled to replicate his success with the national team, where he had been expected to oversee a smooth transition after 16 years under Joachim “Jogi” Löw.
Löw led Germany to the 2014 World Cup title with Flick as his assistant but was unable to stop the team’s downturn after a dismal performance as defending champions at the 2018 World Cup.
Flick’s team fared no better at the 2022 World Cup and this year started giving the impression it had forgotten how to win games before the federation finally decided to end his tenure after the embarrassing loss to Japan.
Germany national team sporting director Rudi Völler took over as interim coach and oversaw a morale-boosting 2-1 win over France in its next game. Völler, who was Germany coach from 2000-04, had made clear he only ever wanted to take over again on a temporary basis.
The federation is hoping Nagelsmann can build on Völler’s example rather than Flick’s. Before coaching Bayern, Nagelsmann enjoyed success in charge of Leipzig and Hoffenheim, where he became the youngest coach in the Bundesliga in 2016.
Some former Germany players like Lothar Matthäus, Stefan Effenberg and Michael Ballack voiced their preference for an older coach like the experienced Louis van Gaal to shake up the squad.
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