A Swabian for the tail light: Thomas Letsch becomes coach in Bochum – Sport


A Swabian from the Netherlands is said to be in the Ruhr area VfL Bochum save from relegation to the second division. Born in Esslingen, Thomas Letsch, 54, last two years with Vitesse Arnhem, was named on Thursday evening as the successor to coach Thomas Reis, who was fired last week.

Letsch, once a grammar school teacher for math and sports and three years a teacher at a German school in Lisbon, has been cultivating the pressing-switching football that has been inoculated there since his time at the RB Salzburg youth academy. The next few weeks will show how well this style of play can be applied to the Bochum team. With one point from seven games, VfL is currently last in the Bundesliga. Letsch, who is bringing his German assistant coach Jan Fießer with him, has been given a contract until 2024. According to media reports, Bochum is paying him a transfer fee in the mid six-digit range.

Letsch had already been traded to several German clubs in the summer, including Schalke 04, which was initially interested in Thomas Reis, who was not approved by VfL but then decided on Frank Kramer. Now Bochum is replacing Reis with Letsch, while Reis might be interesting again for Schalke. That's what you call a coach carousel.

"Letsch is our dream solution," says Bochum's new sports director Patrick Fabian. "He has the experience and ability to form a team with a clear vision." What is also well received by the clammy Bochumers: Letsch has always promoted the development of talented players at his stations.

When Letsch became head coach for the first time in 2008 at SG Sonnenhof-Großaspach, he was also still working as a high school teacher for math and sports

Letsch made his first appearance as a coach at third-division club Stuttgarter Kickers. When the head coach Marcus Sorg (today assistant to the national coach Hansi Flick) was fired there in 2003, the assistant coach Letsch took over the office together with Robin Dutt. Letsch later became Sorg's assistant again at SSV Ulm. When he became head coach for the first time in 2008 at SG Sonnenhof-Großaspach, he was also still working as a high school teacher for math and sports. "Math is logical thinking, solutions are sought there; and also when Soccer the opponent presents us with tasks that we have to solve," he once said.

In the summer of 2009, Letsch not only ended his time in Aspach, he seemed to say goodbye to football altogether. He became a teacher at a German school in Lisbon, where his only contact with football was the girls' football club. But in 2012 Ralf Rangnick brought him to the youth academy of RB Salzburg. Letsch trained teams there for three and a half years. He was also assistant coach to head coach Roger Schmidt for a year. From 2015 to 2017 he coached the RB farm team FC Liefering.

After that, Letsch wasn't too lucky at first. At the then second division club Erzgebirge Aue, he followed Domenico Tedesco in the summer of 2017, but was released after only three games because, as President Helge Leonhardt said at the time, "the game system didn't work". At Austria Wien, too, Letsch was only in office for a good year from February 2018 to March 2019 because "development was too weak," as sports director Ralf Muhr explained at the time.

Only at Vitesse Arnhem did everything seem to fit. Letsch has been the head coach there since the summer of 2020. Vitesse sports director Johannes Spors also has an RB past and brought him to the Netherlands. In the first year, the coach led the club to the Dutch Cup final against Ajax Amsterdam (1-2). With his aggressive pressing style à la RB, the Swabian caused a football cultural revolution in Gelderland. He surprisingly led the club to fourth place in the honors division and sixth place as a sophomore. In the spring, Arnhem made it into the last 16 of the Conference League. At the moment, Vitesse is fifth from last in 14th place after seven games. Letsch says: "Our goal is for VfL Bochum to play in the Bundesliga again next season, and we will work very hard for that."



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