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Thomas Schaaf: From Werder Bremen’s bus driver to participant, coach… and saviour?

With only one match remaining within the Bundesliga marketing campaign, and their top-flight future hanging within the steadiness, Werder Bremen have turned to membership legend Thomas Schaaf.

The time period “legend” is simply too typically bandied about soccer circles, however in Schaaf’s case it nearly doesn’t do justice to his standing in Werder folklore.

In any case, it is a man who has held nearly each position doable on the membership – he’s been each kitman and bus driver at completely different junctures – and was concerned in three of Werder’s 4 league championships, 5 of their six DFB Cup triumphs and sole UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup glory whereas serving as both participant or coach.

There will not be winners’ medals on the road this time round, however Schaaf returns to his beloved membership with the stakes arguably even larger.

Following a run of 10 video games with out victory, Werder are within the relegation play-off place with only a house assembly with Borussia Mönchengladbach to go. Defeat there would both pressure a showdown with the third-placed staff in Bundesliga 2 or computerized relegation, whereas victory might safe their survival.

“It’s an enormous problem after all, however we nonetheless have each likelihood of staying within the league,” mentioned Schaaf. “We don’t have a lot time, however we’ll do all the things we are able to in that point to verify we go into the match with ardour, confidence, and self-belief in our personal strengths in order that we may be profitable ultimately.”

Schaaf’s affiliation with Werder dates again to 1972 and he rose via the membership’s youth ranks earlier than making the primary of 380 first-team appearances in inexperienced and white simply 12 days earlier than his 18th birthday, in April 1979.

By the 1987/88 marketing campaign, Schaaf was balancing first-team duties with a training position within the U18 set-up – the identical 12 months he featured 29 instances within the Bundesliga as Werder lifted the Meisterschale.

The juggling act would proceed, as positions with the U19s and as player-assistant adopted over the course of a enjoying profession that delivered a second league title in 1992/93, the German cup in 1990/91 and 1993/94, in addition to the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1991/92, to not point out a second division trophy and three German Supercups.

Thomas Schaaf (l.) rose via the Werder Bremen youth ranks earlier than having fun with monumental success with the first-team. – Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Photos

As Schaaf hung up his boots in 1995, it was inevitable that he would step right into a extra everlasting place within the dugout and he instantly took the reins of Werder’s reserve staff.

4 years later, he changed Felix Magath within the Weser Stadium hotseat and his pure ascension to the throne was full. And by the point he departed the membership an extra 14 years on, all that glittered in Bremen was gold.

Three extra DFB Cups had been safely stashed away within the trophy cupboard, in addition to the league and cup double in 2003/04, whereas Schaaf’s males had been narrowly overwhelmed by Shakhtar Donetsk in extra-time of the 2009 UEFA Cup remaining.

His groups rapidly grew to become the impartial’s favorite and boasted the likes of fellow Werder icons Ailton, Torsten Frings, Andreas Herzog, Johan Micoud, Mesut Özil and Claudio Pizzarro, whereas Schaaf was additionally accountable for bringing a younger Kevin De Bruyne to the Bundesliga in 2012/13.

Watch: From the archive – Schaaf’s lifelong reference to Werder

Their parting of how on the finish of that latterly talked about marketing campaign ended a 40-year affiliation between Schaaf and Werder, and issues weren’t the identical for the coach throughout subsequent short-lived stints at Eintracht Frankfurt and Hannover 96.

That relationship will now resume – albeit in a one-match microcosm – and Schaaf is properly conscious of what’s at stake for himself, however extra so for his membership.

“The job now consists of a combination of talks and coaching periods. We have now labored on a variety of various things already. It’s additionally necessary to me that the gamers pay attention in order that I can clarify to them what I anticipate,” he mentioned.

“I did have to contemplate whether or not I might blame myself for not making an attempt all the things to assist the membership I really feel such a robust connection to. The deciding issue is having the sensation that you may supply and obtain one thing.”

Schaaf would really feel relegation as keenly as another Bremen supporter, participant or member of employees, in any case he’s been one in every of them at one time or one other. And if anybody cannot solely breathe perception into the Werder trigger, but additionally ship them to security, it’s the legendary 60-year-old.

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