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“Where it's modest is also where it's really about work”

fkjdk

24/08/2021

Fußballlehrer is the highest level a football coach can achieve educationally in his or her career in Germany. Every year only a handful of great coaches among the country are accepted to the course which lasts almost a year with very intensive and extensive curriculum. After successful finish, graduates can work in every possible coaching job from lowest division to national team level.

Farat Toku has been associated with SG Wattenscheid 09 for more than twenty years. At the beginning of the 2000s he came to Lohrheide for the first time as a player under coach Hannes Bongartz, playing alongside Turkish National Team stars Hamit and Halil Altıntop. He then returned under coach "Putsche" Helmig (his teammate was former BVB coach Edin Terzic at the time) and after that more than four years he was the coach of the 09ers. Now the 41-year-old has completed his training as a football teacher alongside with German national team stars like Miroslav Klose and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

As German football education is shown with great praise among the football community, we reached out Toku to learn his experiences in this education system, his methods and goals as a pro coach and his values and work ethic.

 

Arda Alan Işık

How was your path to becoming a “Fußballlehrer” in Germany, which is the highest point a trainer can become in the country?

Farat Toku

The Fußballlehrer course in Germany is quite difficult to get into. The course runs once a year, lasting eleven months 800 hours. It is a very challenging experience. Every year there are around 130, 140 applicants apply all over Germany. Only 24 places are offered and considering the status of Fußballlehrer, you can imagine the names applying to this. The competition is really high and former national team players and football professionals with worldwide careers apply for this. That is why I was even more delighted that I made it too. I'm proud of the fact that I was able to attend courses with some of the great names like Miroslav Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Hanno Balitsch. And it was a very exciting and very interesting course. Apart from the course material, you stimulate new ideas within each other and it was nice to see how other coaches form a great intellectual bond.

 

Arda Alan Işık

How do you see the entire coaching system in Germany? Many people in football industry regard Germany as a paragon of football and coaching education, is that actually so?

Farat Toku

Overall, I think if you look at who has won the Champions League in the last two years, they were German coaches. I think there is not much more to say. And I think that when it comes to German education system, especially in the coaching area, it is very demanding and very informative. So you’re already being challenged and you learn a lot. You have a lot of input. The most exciting part is that coaching education in Germany is consistent all around the country. I don't think that you can compare it with any other trainer training because there are so many hurdles, but also very, very many interesting things. You can almost tell from the first to the fourth league. Sometimes even a bit in the amateur areas, how well trained coaches are there. And you notice that especially in the cup games or when the first plays against the fourth, that the game is still played at a very high level from a purely tactical point of view. And I think the DFB has already made a huge leap forward with that.

 

Arda Alan Işık

How do you define a good trainer? Which qualities a good trainer must have?

Farat Toku

I think the simplest principle is always being result-oriented. To do that, you have to be authentic. You must stay as you are. Regardless that you think you are successful or not. I think that is very important and decisive. Surely every coach has certain principles; how he works, how he is as a person and I think he transfers that to the players, including the values ​​he has. And I think values ​​are extremely important in football for a team to function. Conveying your values and reaching a consensus in a team is very exciting. What you embody is what the players and the team get. You just have to be fair and honest with the player. And I think that's a decisive factor, so that the player then goes through hardships for you too.

 

Arda Alan Işık

How would you describe your coaching style? Both on and off the pitch?

Farat Toku

Certainly there are places where I value very much, but the focus is always on people. It is important that I know the player as a person so that I know how I can give him input in terms of football. There are types of players for instance who always want an open question and an open answer. So you really have to teach him directly to make sense to him. Then maybe there are other players to whom I'll just say what they need to do, they just want to play football. They have the ball and they just do it. You don't have to tell that much because they can do a lot themselves.

You need to shape this group of people as a team. You know they are more than just footballers, they are people. You need to get to know every single one of them. You then have a homogeneous team, in which you then convey what you know about football or your philosophy you have as a coach.  That's what I give great importance to, that the team works, the guys accept each other, everyone can be the way they are and don't have to pretend in order to be successful.

But of course it's also important to me on the pitch that you're very disciplined and that the certain game principles that I have as a coach are also implemented. The principles can always vary depending on the opponent and the match plan. There are always principles that we value, but also principles about how we train. When we play against an opponent at the weekend, there are some principles that we also practice during the week in training so that we are well prepared on the weekend. You should not leave anything to chance, you want to be prepared so well that you are dominant, confident on the ball and also determined to work. You need to play aggressively on the ball, stay active, press the opponent very high and so on. We want to take that to heart. And then there are principles that we then rehearse in training so that the game idea and game philosophy can also be recognized on the pitch.

 

Arda Alan Işık

Many football columnists and journalists argue that big names like Guardiola and Klopp have a certain strategy, but you also say that game varies depending on the opponent. How do you find a balance in between?

Farat Toku

I basically believe that the quality of the team is always important. I can have the best game philosophy. If I don't have the quality, then it will be difficult. That's why you must adapt a little. How is the quality of your team? But there is a special phase for each part of the season. We have four or five game phases, where we play more aggressively or control the ball more. Of course, there's something fundamental in each game like we want to be ball oriented, we want ball possession and we want to be dominant. You can then add other layers to these ideas depending on your opponent, to surprise them for instance. To do this, however, you must know exactly how the opponent is acting and how they are. Nevertheless, I can say that my teams play dominant and active.

 

Arda Alan Işık

What does future hold for you with this philosophy?

Farat Toku

What I say and see more and more often is that as a coach you must know exactly where you fit in. In which club do you fit in and which club suits you so that you can be successful? I'm not a coach type who somehow does something and than has a job. I'm not doing that because I believe that you cannot be successful in the long term if you are not convinced. Regardless of whether it is a lot of money, little money does not matter. You just must be convinced of the matter. And if you think you can identify with the club one hundred percent and the club has exactly the same values, then I'm pretty sure that you will be successful in the long term. And for me it is always the key question "Where do I fit in? As a guy and as a coach? And does the club suit me?" And if that's true, then money doesn't really matter.

 

Arda Alan Işık

Which values and plans you would like to see in a club?

Farat Toku

Of course, there are these top clubs like City, Barça and Paris and so on. However, I like clubs that “you can't get rid of them”, because they do the outstanding work with very little money and always bring out new players and sell them, like SC Freiburg. They even find and develop players that nobody has on their lists and develop them. I think they also have a very good youth department, where they are always able to pull out new ones from below. I think it's a model that I can fully identify with, where they also play attractive football, of course, where it's modest is also where it's really about work. And I think that's one of the decisive factors for a club, where I say I can fully identify with it. As a coach type, but also as a person, because that will suit me very well. Of course there are also coaches like Thomas Tuchel or Klopp or Pep who are very competitive. But of course they also have an outstanding quality in terms of players. And I think you must praise these trainers, such as Christian Streich, who manages to achieve a lot with very little every year. And I think that's actually the coach of the season for me for years, because he works so consistently. Everyone forgets so quickly because he might not win any championships or trophies. I find his work very valuable.

 

Arda Alan Işık

How does a club and a trainer achieves so much with so little? What is the formula for reaping great benefits from modest investments?

Farat Toku

Obviously SC Freiburg has different values ​​than FC Bayern Munich. They focus on something completely different, on youth work and academy of SC Freiburg. They cannot have expensive players, so they focus on development. That means that talent production is very important for the first team. And if you are good at training and you are hardworking then the boys come out and then you develop them for top football. I think then you take a giant step as a club, also as a player. Players also notice that, because I've made it from my experience. I've had players that nobody actually knew but I developed them and then they suddenly ended up in 2nd Bundesliga. And that's why it's about player development for me. Players that want to be developed every training and you must bring that out as a trainer. This temperament and this passion, the players must notice so that you and they trust each other and make the jump. Step by step, working continuously every day matters.

 

Arda Alan Işık

Which player type has the best chance of development? What is the mentality that a young player must have?

 

Farat Toku

I think you must have talent. But talent is not enough to get on the big stage. I think what we have here in Germany is just the mentality. There are a lot of players who may not be that talented, but they have the mentality and the drive. These players naturally get ahead. That’s the most important thing we have here in Germany. That way you can impress a lot with your team. The team as a whole works much better when you have players with this mentality than when you only have talented players. Having a good mix is also important. Success arises with a good combination of right mentality and talent.

 

Arda Alan Işık

Thank you very much for the interview Mr. Toku!

Farat Toku

I'm happy to do an interview with a club like Altınordu. Your work on youth development is well-known, here in Germany also Altınordu has a good reputation. You've already raised distinguished professionals who also played in Germany. That's why it's a pleasure for me to talk to you too.