Nuri Sahin’s career in coaching looks certain to be one to keep an eye on, and it might not have happened without former managers Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel.
The ex-Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and Real Madrid midfielder has had an incredible start to life in management at Turkish side Antalyaspor, with his path similar to that of Klopp.
Reminiscent of the Liverpool boss’ breakthrough at Mainz, Sahin was playing for Antalyaspor on October 1 and, four days later, found himself in the dugout.
And much like Klopp’s start in Germany, Sahin’s has raised plenty of eyebrows, winning 22 of his 34 Turkish Super Lig games, putting Antalya on the outskirts of Europe after a relegation fight last season.
“It’s good, it’s different to football, being a player, but it’s good, I love it,” he told talkSPORT.
“We are doing quite good, the guys took it in a good way that I became the manager here, and the idea of what we want to do, the way we want to play, it suits the team.
“It suits the guys, and the mentality changed a little bit, we tried to implement some of our ideas, the results are coming all good so far.”
Before taking the plunge and accepting Antalya’s offer, Sahin first sought advice from Klopp, who coached him to a Bundesliga win in 2011, which saw him named Germany’s player of the season.
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“We speak constantly and he is of course one of the people I take advice from and speak about things,” the 33-year-old said.
“He said to go ahead, he said you’re a good guy, a good person and I’m sure it will work out.”
Does a current nine game unbeaten streak with seven wins prove Klopp was right?
“Maybe if it can stay like this,” Sahin joked.
The former Turkey international played for Klopp for his peak years at Dortmund, before a blockbuster move to Real Madrid didn’t quite work out.
A loan to Liverpool followed, before returning to Dortmund under Chelsea manager Tuchel.
“Thomas was a big influence in my decision to become a coach,” said Sahin, who isn’t at all surprised to see the ascent his former managers have made to the very top of the game.
The duo will meet under the arches at Wembley for the second time in four months in the FA Cup final, both Champions League winners with their English sides, and in the most elite bracket of football managers.
“It’s absolutely no surprise,” Sahin said without a doubt. “I think these two amazing teams and two amazing coaches, it’s no surprise for me, they do a brilliant job both of them and I’m looking forward to the match.
“It was clear for me that both of them when I started to work with them I felt already that they were special.
“Even though I had a short period with Thomas and I had an injury and I was not playing on my level, I had also some, not problems, but disagreeing on some stuff with Thomas but you could feel he was an absolutely outstanding manager.
“And the same for Jurgen, they have an aura, a presence, when they stand in front of a team they can get you on board which is very, very important.”
Klopp and Tuchel, as well as German football as a whole, is known for an obsession with tactics, which has come in useful for Sahin’s fast start to management.
However, what makes the FA Cup finalists special is their personal skills, with Sahin learning plenty about the mental side from his old bosses.
He explained: “If you have only good tactics you will not succeed because we are working with humans and with people, they have feelings, they have good days, bad days, so only tactics will not work out.
“If it’s only about tactics a lot of matches will be a draw because every coach has an idea.”
Sahin clearly has his ideas, and is far from a replica of his former bosses, referencing ‘absolute leader’ Jose Mourinho as yet another example from his time in Madrid.
Nevertheless, the Dortmund finishing school continues to produce, with Saturday’s final at Wembley likely to see many more influences from north-west Germany on the way.
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