Who is Ralf Rangnick popularly know as the football professor ?

Ralf Rangnick was born on the 29th June 1958 and he is a German professional football manager, executive and former player.

Rangnick was born and raised in Backnang. His parents, Dietrich and Erika Rangnick, met in 1945 in Lichtenstein, Saxony, in the Ore Mountains. His mother is from Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland) and his father is from Königsberg.

Rangnick began his playing career at VfB Stuttgart, but was noted for his strategic talents and was added as player-coach. His playing career was short-lived and was primarily concentrated in Germany, but included a stint at English club Southwick while studying at the University of Sussex.

The 63-year-old leaves his role as head of sports and development at Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow to join the Reds for the remainder of this current campaign, and beyond – Ralf and the club have agreed that he will continue in a consultancy role for a further two years.


The experienced German has a tremendous track record across Europe, as you can read in this feature about our interim boss.

Team Years managed

Viktoria Backnang 1983-85

Stuttgart II 1985-87

Lippwoldsweiler 1987-88

SC Korb 1989-90

Stuttgart U19 1990-94

Reutlingen 1995-96

SSV Ulm 1997-99

Stuttgart 1999-2001

Hannover 96 2001-04

Schalke 2004-05

Hoffenheim 2006-11

Schalke 2011

RB Leipzig 2015-16

RB Leipzig 2018-19

As well as hands-on coaching, Rangnick has also served as a director of football for teams under the Red Bull enterprise, including Red Bull Salzburg, RB Leipzig and New York Red Bulls.

He has also worked with Russian Premier League team Lokomotiv Moscow in a managerial position

Rangnick has an extremely impressive CV in football as manager, director of football and, most recently, head of sports development at Lokomotiv Moscow. In 1999, he managed German side Ulm to the Bundesliga for the first time in the club’s history in what was a bright start to his managerial career.

Since then, he has managed some top clubs in the German top flight, including Stuttgart, Schalke 04, Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig.

Rangnick has also operated as a director of football at RB Leipzig and RB Salzburg, with the pioneering coach being a central figure in the Red Bull system’s development following his arrival there in 2012. He left Red Bull in 2020 before moving to Russia to become head of sports and development and Lokomotiv Moscow in July this year.


Between taking both Ulm and Hannover to the Bundesliga, he won the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2000 with VfB Stuttgart.

He then managed Schalke 04 in two periods, most notably taking them to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for the first time in the club’s history, only to lose out to his new employers, Manchester United in 2011. Under Rangnick’s direction, Schalke finished second in the Bundesliga in the 2004/05 season in his first period, and won the DFB-Pokal and the DFL Supercup in 2011 in his second spell.

RB Leipzig, with Rangnick as director of football, ascended from Germany’s fourth tier all the way to the Bundesliga between 2012 and 2016 in one of the most impressive rises in modern football history. The club also secured a Champions League place at the end of their first season in top flight, 2016/17, having finished as runners-up to Bayern Munich.

Rangnick also had two stints as RB Leipzig manager, in 2015/16 and 2018/19, and guided the Saxony club to the DFB-Pokal final in the latter.For his achievements, he was promoted to head of sport and development at Red Bull, overseeing the football clubs under the company’s ownership, including New York Red Bulls and Red Bull Baragnito in Brazil.

As sporting director for both RB Salzburg and RB Leipzig, he oversaw exponential growth at the German and Austrian clubs in recent years, with plenty of top talents seeking opportunities at either one due to their progressive, attacking style of football and proven record of player development.

Rangnick has won seven trophies at various levels across the course of his coaching career.

His most successful period in terms of silverware came during his time at Schalke, where he steered the club to a DFL Ligapokal in 2005, a DFB Pokal in 2010-11 and DFL Supercup in 2011. His tenure in Gelsenkirchen also yielded Bundesliga and DFB Pokal runners-up finishes in 2004-05.

Rangnick also won silverware at Stuttgart, where he earned his stripes, leading them to Intertoto Cup glory in 2000, having previously steered the youth team to the youth Bundesliga title in 1991.

He won the Regionalliga Sud with Ulm in 1997-98 and helped Hannover 96 to promotion by winning the 2. Bundesliga in 2001-02.


Rangnick is a proponent of the ‘Gegenpressing’ style of football that was popularised by the likes of Jurgen Klopp during his time as Borussia Dortmund head coach.

It is an approach which requires high intensity pressing in order to keep pressure on the other team and win the ball back quickly, coupled with tight marking in defence in order to neutralise a counter-attacking threat early.

Rangnick has revealed that his “football epiphany” came during a 1983 friendly match against Dynamo Kyiv, then coached by Valeriy Lobanovskyi. “Kyiv were the first team I had ever come up against who systematically pressed the ball,” he explained. “That was my football epiphany. I understood that there was a different way of playing.”

He described his philosophy in a discussion with The Coaches’ Voice thus: “It’s about controlling the game. We have, in fact, five situations in the meantime that decide football games.

“You need to have, as a coach, a very clear idea of how we want to play when we have the ball ourselves.

“Number two is: what do we want to do if the other team has got the ball? What kind of gameplan to I give my players when the other team has got the ball? Our idea is clear. It’s very, very similar to my coaching friend Jurgen Klopp. Our Red Bull football is heavy metal, rock and roll. It’s not slow waltz. We hate square passes and back passes. Just having the ball ourselves doesn’t make sense.

“Then we have the moment of transition: what happens when we lose the ball and what happens when we win the ball? This is number three and number four.

“Then, of course, we have the set-pieces. This is highly important. If 30 per cent of the goals are being scored after set-pieces, how much percentage of our training time should we invest in set-pieces? Thirty per cent.”

Rangnick added: “It’s about putting the other team under pressure, no matter how high up [the pitch]. The higher up the better, but wherever the ball is, we try to win the ball back.

“It’s not only about the location where we win the ball, it’s also about the intensity. The more aggressively we win the ball in that moment, the more we take this intensity and tempo into the counter-attack. That means, the more intensely we win the ball, the bigger the chance we create.

“Also highly important is ‘rest defence’. No matter if you are playing two or three central defenders, they have to make sure that the one or two players the other team has up front are being marked. They have to be closely marked, because if we allow them to control the ball, then we get the counter-attack ourselves.

“This is nothing less than a train the brain issue. This is what we call ‘rest defence’ and it’s a very important thing that you train this. Not only tell the player, but train it in the training sessions.”

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