Domenico Tedesco's bravery returns joy and European football to Schalke

by theguardian

Football

The 32-year-old coach has transformed Schalke with a defender three years his senior and victory over Dortmund in the Revierderby left them on the verge of the Champions League

It began with a 31-year-old rookie boss, with just months of head coaching experience, no European football to look forward to, and a public needing to be won over. On Sunday afternoon, it reached an apparent denouement, gloriously, with sweet victory over their fierce local rivals Borussia Dortmund, with Champions League football within touching distance and with that coach, Domenico Tedesco, wildly celebrating with the fans as Schalke enjoyed their best day in recent memory.

Fittingly, as the jubilant players approached the hardcore on the Veltins-Arena’s Nordkurve, Tedesco – now a seasoned 32 – took centre stage clasped to his defensive rock, the Brazilian Naldo, three years his coach’s senior. This moment, underlining the closeness of the two, highlighted much of the respect that Tedesco has garnered from players who were weary, possibly sceptical and whose expectations had been lowered after a poor season under his predecessor, Markus Weinzierl, which had left Die Königsblauen as close to the relegation play-off as they were to European qualification.

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