Back in the elevator: Ingolstadt’s emotional coach Rüdiger Rehm – Sport
At FC Ingolstadt they have now stuck a large, red-tinted photo on the frosted glass door to the professional department, on which the players and the coach are embracing and cheering. It looks timeless, but is still quite new. “That was a very important game,” says Rüdiger Rehm about October 8th, “also for the team structure, that was such a decisive moment for us this season.” It is about the 2:1 in the third division derby against TSV 1860 Munich. The weeks before that, the Schanzer hadn’t played well. In addition, this victory is a kind of favorite of Rehm: with high emotions that led to success.
Two months of winter break are over, a few days before the first game of 2023, Rehm is sitting in a meeting room next to said photo, the sun is shining through the window in his face. The 44-year-old looks incredibly relaxed, almost recovered, and he’s a coach who hasn’t had a long break in eleven years. And who actually finally wants to get out of this elevator that occasionally takes him to the second league, but then also down to the third league again. “I like to work long-term, but I also like to be successful quickly. If there’s a chance, we’ll do everything we can to get in there,” he says about the promotion places in the third division. With a win on Monday evening against Erzgebirge Aue (7 p.m., Sportpark), the Schanzer would already be second.
There are few coaches in the professional business who can switch back and forth between looseness and doggedness as quickly as Rehm. Dealing with emotions has had a significant impact on his career. That doesn’t read well on paper. As a coach, he was the first in German professional football to get four yellow cards when they were introduced. As a player, Rehm, together with Willi Landgraf, holds the record for the most second division dismissals (nine). But: “There were no assaults! I was just a bit too slow from time to time,” he says with a smile. Would coach Rüdiger Rehm like to have player Rüdiger Rehm on his team? Another grin. “Only in attitude, not in ability.” He was “certainly not noticed because of great feints or overhead kicks”.
You didn’t have a good memory of him in Ingolstadt either – because he won an exciting relegation with SV Wehen Wiesbaden in 2019 against the Schanzer, in a direct duel between two lift teams. The Wiesbadeners under his aegis were usually disgusting to play with, because of their bright yellow away jerseys they were sometimes called “poisonous markers”. Rehm sees this as “praise”.
“The feeling of victory has to get into the body, has to get into the audience, has to get into the club,” says Rehm
You don’t want Rehm as an enemy, but you really want to have him as a friend. He makes sure that the team regularly has breakfast together. During the week he likes to spontaneously drive home to the Heilbronn district to have dinner with the family. Or to go for a beer with old friends. If possible, something like this should not be neglected even with a 60-hour week. Rehm says that he also likes to go to fan bars to soak up the atmosphere and start a conversation. Sometimes also around the stadium of VfB Stuttgart, where he was a fan in the block as a teenager.
Rehm was one of the very few in the football teacher class of 2015 who had the double burden of being a student and a coach, he was with SG Sonnenhof Großaspach for a long time. He is already in his eleventh season, on Monday he will play his 290th game as a professional football coach. Also because he had few breaks and long-term commitments. The exception: three months Arminia Bielefeld, 2016. In the professional business, says Rehm, you often have to make decisions very quickly, even when taking groundbreaking steps. In this case wrong.
Before that, in Großaspach, the conditions hadn’t been very professional. The training ground and showers were often kilometers apart. When Malte Metzelder from Ingolstadt, who was bottom of the second division, finally contacted him in autumn 2021, it was clear to Rehm that he would get back into an elevator. But he also saw two things that are particularly important to him given his career: a professional infrastructure and the opportunity to work long-term.
After relegation, Rehm did something he doesn’t particularly enjoy doing: he focused on defending. “After a new start like this, it’s important to win, even if it’s not that brilliant. The feeling of victory has to get into your body, into the crowd, into the club,” he says. It worked: won 1-0 five times, conceded 14 goals in 17 games. But now attack: In the winter they “tweaked the offensive possibilities”, he says, it is important to optimize the game with the ball, to make better use of switching moments.
Five years, yes, he could very well imagine that in Ingolstadt. Because, and he smiles again, that would mean that you worked together successfully. If it still works with the ascent this year, then hopefully without an elevator afterwards.