Julian Nagelsmann was coaching Hoffenheim when he took a call from Real Madrid, inviting him to become their new coach. He turned them down.
RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann has revealed he turned down the chance to become head coach of Real Madrid.
The 32-year-old told the Independent he was approached by Madrid managing director Jose Angel Sanchez in 2018, at a time when the club were seeking a successor to Zinedine Zidane.
That job went to Julen Lopetegui, whose controversial appointment led to the incoming Madrid boss being ousted as Spain’s head coach on the eve of the World Cup.
Lopetegui and Santiago Solari did not last, with their respective short stints in charge followed by the second coming of Zidane.
It could have been Nagelsmann in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu; however, the highly-rated young German decided the opportunity had come too early in his career.
He elected to stay with his club at the time, Hoffenheim, before moving on to Leipzig last year.
“It’s normal if Real Madrid call you, you think about it,” Nagelsmann said. “I was surprised at first, I weighed it up and I didn’t feel comfortable with a decision to go there. I want to improve. If you go to Real Madrid, there’s no time to improve as a manager.
“You don’t have a chance to be a better manager, you already have to be the best. I’m not the best now, but I can admit I want to be one of the best in future. If you go to Real Madrid or Barcelona, the fans, the media and the decision-makers don’t give you the time to grow into that.
“They only want to see victories every game, titles, Champions League trophies. If you don’t win, you can’t say ‘but I’m still young, I’m still developing’. It’s not that easy in football to plan a career, because it is so unpredictable, but you have to try.
“The main thing is to make the right steps, not the biggest steps. Real Madrid is probably one of the highest steps you can take so I thought, ‘You turn 31, go to Real and where to do you go from there?’.”
He said the language barrier could also have been a problem, with Nagelsmann not a Spanish speaker.
He jumped at the Leipzig chance, however, and said that sparked a period when he was constantly linked with top jobs.
“The funny thing about that is, I signed a contract and then it felt like 10 minutes later, all the clubs were interested,” he said. “It’s like when you go to a disco and you are single, you’ll never find a girl. Then when you go to the disco with your girlfriend, quite a few want you!”
Nagelsmann’s Leipzig are set to face Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham in the Champions League last 16, with the first leg in London next Wednesday.
The young German boss admits coaching in England holds plenty of appeal for the future.
“In the Premier League, there is no time slot for anything else. Football, football, football,” he told the Independent. “But there are a few clubs that I watch closely and the Premier League is a goal for every manager.”