Prodigious coach Julian Nagelsmann is more in line with Hoffenheim's strategic planning, writes DW's Ross Dunbar who interviewed the 28-year-old when he was last involved with the first-team as co-trainer in 2013.
From his hotel in Portugal during Hoffenheim's winter training camp, Julian Nagelsmann spoke with enthusiasm about the task ahead. Hoffenheim were third-bottom of the Bundesliga in January 2013 when the club needed inspiration.
Nagelsmann, then just 25, was named co-trainer - largely the number two - with Franz Kramer. Culminating in a nail-biting final day win at Borussia Dortmund, the pair kept Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga by the very smallest of margins.
Naglesmann breezed through his coaching badges with aid of a glowing reference from Thomas Tuchel, the current boss of Borussia Dortmund, who he worked with briefly at FC Augsburg. His playing career with cut short when he sustained a knee injury during an U19 match against Eintracht Frankfurt that led to two years of injury hell.
After hanging up his boots, he went into the academic world. He managed just four semesters studying Business Administration before defecting to a Sport Science degree, in which he now holds a Bachelor's Degree. Nagelsmann has moved up the ladder, coaching from U16 to U19 level with the side from the southwest.
Backed by Tuchel
"Coaching is more enjoyable than playing,” he insisted robustly in an interview published on A Football Report in 2013. "As a player you just go and train – but as a coach or a trainer you think what you can do to improve the team, or specific parts of the game. You will do that on the field and after the training: you say that was the right or the wrong way.
“My philosophy is to attack the opponents near their own goal because your own way to the goal is not as along, if you get the ball higher up," he explained. “I like the way Villarreal play and they have a great way of coaching young players. I also like FC Barcelona and Arsenal, as well as, the work of Arsene Wenger.
"They play very good football. I think the Spanish way is the philosophy is similar to mines and in Spain they are very good at coaching young players for the team. I haven't seen it much with Villarreal but it is interesting to see how they train and it is very good for these young players."
With two more years of coaching the U19s under his belt, leading them to the German championship in 2013, the appointment of Nagelsmann shows more long-term thinking from sporting director Alexander Rosen. Having turned down a move to Bayern Munich this summer, his promotion to the first-team was a matter of when, not if.
Hoffenheim are moving towards a model of harnessing its own talents from the academy, and so promoting from within ahead of next season is economically sound management. Those in the current U19 side will be thrilled with the door as open as ever for a spot in the Bundesliga.