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STARTING YOUNG

Incredibly, Rangnick began his coaching career when he was just 25 in 1983, following a mediocre semi-pro career.

But his theories were against trend – with the national team adopting a rigid 3-5-2 system and man-marking.

And to be fair, West Germany tasted success playing that way – winning the 1990 World Cup, after finishing runners-up four years earlier.

But Ralf had his own ideas how the beautiful game should be played.

In 1997, he scored his first job at lowly Ulm 1846, who would become fourth division champions with him at the helm.

A year later, he appeared on German TV donning a black suit and shirt revealing his footballing thesis.

The German media nicknamed him the ‘German Professor’, probably unfairly and with derision.

He was ridiculed for his geeky look and rimless glasses, while his methods weren’t embraced with teams favouring German legend Franz Beckenbauer’s sweeper approach.

“The reaction from the media as well as others in football was extraordinary,” Rangnick told ESPN.

“The main reason for this was that 30 years before, Franz Beckenbauer set the benchmark for most teams in our country when he created a libero-sweeper position for himself.

“Franz himself even said in the mid-’90s that you cannot play with a zone-marking back four line because German players will not understand how to play it.

“I asked myself, why should German players be any less intelligent than those in Belgium, Spain or the Netherlands? For me that was simply not logical.”

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