Trainer National Team of Austria

Ralf Rangnick is Coach of the National Team of Austria.

Ralf Rangnick is former sporting director and coach of RB Leipzig. 296 games after the founding of RasenBallsport Leipzig e.V., he and his club find themselves in the top echelon of European football. Since joining the Red Bull group in 2012 and with the help of playing rights bought from fifth-division team SSV Markranstädt, he led the team from the Regional league right into the Champions League. An unprecedented achievement in Bundesliga history.

Ralf Rangnick’s first-hand experience with the toughness of English football

Ralf Rangnick presentation topics

As a coach and sporting director, Ralf Rangnick has taken RB Leipzig to the top spot of the Bundesliga in a very short space of time. In his presentations, he talks about his experiences selecting squad members and motivating a team.

  • Identifying talent
  • Forming, selecting and managing a team
  • Motivating when things aren’t going well
  • Team: Everyone must take responsibility

Born in the Swabian town of Backnang on the day of the 1958 World Cup final, it soon became clear Ralf Rangnick had some special qualities. He only ever wanted one thing – to win. While studying sport and English, he played for Southwick FC, experiencing the toughness of English football first-hand. The diagnosis: three broken ribs and a lung injury. Hardened but still ‘insatiable’, he returned from the UK and established himself in German football, where, still active himself, he lined up for the VFB amateurs in Heilbronn and Ulm, took his home club of Backnang up a few leagues as player-coach, and devised a new playing concept that had so far gone unnoticed in the professional football world. He abolished man-marking and caused surprises with his innovative tactics. He completed his football-instructors course in Cologne as star pupil and became the sporting co-ordinator at VFB Stuttgart. And Rangnick proved his good eye for talent early on. He gave a 17-year-old boy from Cruzeiro Belo Horizonte a VFB Stuttgart jersey in Brazil, and tried to convince the Swabians to pay a six-million-euro transfer fee. They refused. That talented kid with braces was none other than the player who would become the great Ronaldo several years later.

Ralf Rangnick is a football expert, a visionary

With his ball-oriented zone defence, he took SSV Ulm to the second-division, explained the flat four-man defence system to German viewers on ZDF, and thus sent a clear message of his intention to set new trends and give new direction to German football. In 2006, the football strategist was hired by TSG Hoffenheim. Ralf Rangnick’s game revolved around the mind, skills, concepts and capital. An excellent coaching and support team, young, fast, adaptive, mentally strong players, modern concept-based football, an offensive playing style, and the financial backing from investor Dietmar Hopp all helped achieve the ‘Hoffenheim miracle’ – the rise from the regional league to the Bundesliga. The municipality of Hoffenheim-Sinsheim, with a population of 3,000, was top of the table after the first round of the 2008/09 season, ahead of Bayern Munich.

‘Money alone doesn’t score goals’

The famous quote by Otto Rehhagel – ‘money doesn’t score goals’ – appeared to have been all but forgotten by footballing Germany with the Hoffenheim project. But Hoffenheim wasn’t doing anything different to other clubs like Schalke (Gazprom), Wolfsburg (VW) or Leverkusen (Bayer Leverkusen) – who were all using injections of cash from commercial or private sponsorships to invest in training infrastructure, talent, coaches and support staff. But Rangnick was always one step ahead, trying to plan for even the incalculable and unpredictable, through a systematic approach, passion, ambition, and the firm belief in his game philosophy. ‘Money alone doesn’t score goals’ is the more suitable adaptation of Otto Rehhagel words these days. There is of course no denying the fact that European football has become more dependent on investors and patrons like Roman Abramovich (Chelsea FC), Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan (Manchester City) and Nasser Al-Khelaifi from Qatar (Paris Saint-Germain) than ever before. Nevertheless, both in sport and business, traditional companies don’t survive in the digital age if, despite a high equity ratio, they insist on sticking to tradition. Transformation, innovation and speed are instead crucial. And Ralf Rangnick embraced this. He revolutionised football.

Following Hoffenheim, the DFB-Pokal victory with Schalke 04, and a hiatus due to illness, the recovered ‘football brain’ was hired as sporting director in Salzburg by entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz. While Rangnick’s stubbornness and his impatience as a coach meant he wasn’t the easiest of people, in 2012 he did promise the head of the Red Bull conglomerate he would use his invested money wisely. In return, Mateschitz left him to his work. It was Ralf Rangnick’s task, and dream, to take the Leipzig Red Bulls into the Bundesliga within five years. Unlike in Hoffenheim, the Swabian native was now dealing with a football-hungry city of 570,000 people. To achieve his goal, Ralf Rangnick once again surrounded himself with trusted coaches, high-performance infrastructure and diagnostics, and experienced experts – notably his mentor Helmut Gross. The 71-year-old, who was the first German coach to introduce ball-oriented zone defence in the 1980s, was his influential companion in the background – the mastermind, including in terms of further developing game styles. Speed, jumping abilities, reactivity and blood parameters were all imported into the RB lab, and the players’ cognitive skills trained; they had to find the right solutions in confined spaces and under very tight time constraints. This was how Ralf Rangnick perfected his concept-based football. With him and his coach Alexander Zorniger, the team rose up from the regional league to the third division, before marching into the second division, and, on their second attempt, qualifying for the Bundesliga. The tireless, unrelenting Leipzigers took on the established clubs and their often aggressive fan bases. Calmly, personably and successfully. Ralf Rangnick nipped any trace of complacency in the bud. The Red Bulls from Leipzig were to become a powerhouse of German and European football.

Red Bull knows few limits

The success was financed by Dietrich Mateschitz. The Red Bull company, co-founded by him, has now become one of the world’s top three most valuable drink brands. His share of Red Bull sells more than six billion energy drinks worldwide. Based in Fuschl am See, the group today is also a media and sporting empire. The ‘Red Bull gives you wings’ slogan symbolises the investor’s belief in being able to achieve great things. Felix Baumgartner’s jump to earth from space showed everyone that the Red Bull boss knows few limits. He invests in Formula 1 racing teams, ice-hockey clubs, extreme sports athletes and football. For him, all his investments are about more than just the sport. The events are shared across multiple platforms through the RB Media House. It’s about return on communications, which enhances brand and company value. RB Leipzig is spearheading the Mateschitz football network, which has also included Salzburg, Liefering, Ghana, Brazil and New York. The Red Bull boss wants the red bulls from Saxony to become one of Europe’s major clubs. And while the patriarch has thus had to go through a few legal hoops in order to comply with UEFA regulations, this didn’t steer him off course.

With a mid-range budget for the league, Ralf Rangnick not only promptly established himself in the Bundesliga, he also – with young talent such as Naby Keita, Emil Forsberg, Marcel Sabitzer, Willi Orban and Timo Werner – worked his way to the top of it, putting himself within striking distance of championship trophies. During the 2016/17 season, RB Leipzig was the first ever promoted team in Bundesliga history to also qualify for the European Champions League, and finished runner-up in the Bundesliga.