Search Box

The Journey of Fabian Hurzeler: From Bayern Youth to Brighton's Youngest Head Coach

 The Journey of Fabian Hurzeler: From Bayern Youth to Brighton's Youngest Head Coach

Fabian Huerzeler, Head Coach of FC St
 Fabian Huerzeler, Head Coach of FC St. Pauli, reacts prior to the Second Bundesliga match between FC St. Pauli and Hertha BSC at the Millerntor Stadium on March 10, 2024 in Hamburg, Germany(Image-Getty)

German footbthe-journey-of-fabian-hurzeler-from-bayern-youth-to-brightons-youngest-head-coachall expert Matt Ford takes a closer look at Fabian Hurzeler's journey from a youth player with Bayern Munich to his new role as Brighton & Hove Albion head coach after an impressive spell at St Pauli in the German Bundesliga.

#### Admiration for Brighton and De Zerbi

When Brighton beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 at the Amex Stadium in December last year, one supporter in attendance was particularly impressed: Fabian Hurzeler.

"It's no secret that I'm a fan of Brighton, of Roberto De Zerbi, of the way in which he plays football," the then St Pauli head coach told Germany's "Kicker meets DAZN" podcast a few months later. "He's a manager who has achieved a lot with very little. Brighton isn't a club which has spent a lot of money, they don't have quite the same financial possibilities as other Premier League clubs, and yet De Zerbi gets the most out of his squad by playing brave, active football. That's something I can really identify with."

This admiration seems to bode well because, when Hurzeler next attends a Premier League game at the Amex this August, he'll be managing the Seagulls from the touchline as De Zerbi's successor.

#### Success at St Pauli and Move to Brighton

After leading St Pauli to the Bundesliga 2 title and promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time in 13 years, the 31-year-old German signed a three-year deal with Brighton, making him the youngest permanent manager in Premier League history.

Despite his youth, Hurzeler boasts a remarkably mature tactical approach, positioning him alongside Xabi Alonso and Sebastian Hoeness as a key figure at the forefront of modern German coaching. In a country long dominated by aggressive gegenpressing, quick transitions, and rapid counterattacks, Hurzeler achieved success last season with more possession-based football.

#### Early Influences and Tactical Development

Hurzeler, born in Houston, Texas, to a German mother and Swiss father, grew up in southern Germany from the age of two. His approach began as a youth player in Bayern Munich's academy.

"My time at Bayern left the biggest mark on me," he explained. "Because at Bayern, you're expected to win the game with the ball and do so in an attractive manner. I want my teams to have the ball and find solutions. That's in my DNA."

To find those solutions, Hurzeler looked to Gian Piero Gasperini's Atalanta in Bergamo, Italy.

"I'm fascinated by how that team plays," Hurzeler admitted in an interview with German outlet SPOX in 2018. By then, he was already balancing jobs as player-manager at Bavarian regional league outfit Pipinsried and assistant coach of Germany's Under-20s. "Gasperini plays three at the back and pushes his central defender into midfield to start his build-up play. Two midfield sixes, a No 10, and two strikers, thus opening up space out wide from where they can play a pass back into the middle towards the strikers."

#### Tactical Implementation at St Pauli

At St Pauli, where he was promoted to head coach in January 2023, Hurzeler's tactical acumen shone. In his 3-4-3 formation, Eric Smith would step up into midfield, allowing Marcel Hartel to push up and add an extra body to the attack, much like Pascal Gross does for Brighton.

"I'm fundamentally an advocate of possession football," said Hurzeler. "But the key question is: how do you get into the final third? After that, it's down to individual players to make the difference with creativity and pace. But it's the job of the coach to get those players into the right positions in the first place."

#### Discipline and Authenticity

Hurzeler is known for his intensity and passion, both as a player and a coach. In just three seasons as a player in Pipinsried, he picked up 45 yellow cards, five second yellows, and one straight red. Last season, he was booked seven times on the touchline at St Pauli and was sent to the stands in the cup quarter-final against Fortuna Dusseldorf.

"Discipline is something I need to work on," he admitted. "On the other hand, I want to remain authentic. I can't completely change who I am and I don't want to create anything artificial. But I do need to keep calm in certain situations. I'm working on it."

#### Continuous Improvement

At Christmas, Hurzeler gave his staff copies of "Atomic Habits" by James Clear, emphasizing continuous improvement. For Hurzeler, this meant learning from the best. He watched Brighton beat Spurs and later observed Manchester City defeat Sheffield United.

"You have to think big and I've set myself one clear goal," he said in 2018. "I want to coach a team in the UEFA Champions League one day."

Having already tasted UEFA Europa League football, Brighton would take that ambition seriously.

Next Post Previous Post
No Comment
Add Comment
comment url