• Lun. Jul 15th, 2024

-> Noticias de futbol internacional

Edin Terzic cried in front of Dortmund fans a year ago. Now he’s on the cusp of glory

The most famous picture of Edin Terzic is also the saddest.

It shows him with tears in his eyes at the foot of the Westfalenstadion’s southern terrace, the Yellow Wall.

It was May 27, 2023, the final day of last season. Borussia Dortmund had waited 11 years to be champions again and with only a win over a mid-table opponent needed, 80,000 fans had packed the stadium ready to celebrate.

It turned into a nightmare. They went two goals down before drawing 2-2 against Mainz and handed the title to Bayern Munich. There was Terzic, the local boyhood Dortmund fan now head coach. He looked utterly broken by the experience.

Terzic is still badly bruised. He came very close to the sack twice this campaign. But the story of his season — and his coaching career — could yet be defined by Saturday, when the 41-year-old leads Dortmund to Wembley for the Champions League final.

This is the story of Terzic, a boy from a small town near Dortmund who played in the fourth tier of German football, clawed his way up through the professional game as a coach and could now earn his personal redemption.

Menden is 30 minutes from Dortmund. It’s a small town of around 50,000 people, tucked away into a lush part of the Ruhr. The buildings in its old town are painted in sombre, pastel colours.

It was where Terzic was raised. His Bosnian father and Croatian mother settled in the region after arriving as guestworkers in Germany’s industrial heartland. He and his brother, Alen, were educated at the town’s Holy Spirit High School. Edin’s first football club, BSV Menden, is a two-mile walk up a road that rises gently out of the town, through a residential suburb and up into a hill which sits within the trees.

Menden Town Hall (Sebastian Stafford-Bloor/The Athletic)

The Terzic family, like so many others, experienced the tensions between their old lives and their new. As children, Edin and Alen remember having to vacate their bedrooms for relatives who had fled the civil war in Yugoslavia. One of his uncles died. Several of his cousins were captured.

“We would listen hours on end to radio transmissions, that was the only way to find out news then,” he told The Athletic in 2023. “I partially experienced what war did to those people. We also stopped going to my parents’ home countries on holidays.”

Terzic is not just a Borussia Dortmund fan: he is a product of the region. He was born there in 1982, raised there, met his wife Kora there and then married her at Nordkirchen Castle, one of the grandest places in North Rhine-Westphalia.

He met Kora while he was a student at Ruhr University Bochum (RUB), where he studied under professor Peter Lange. Lange is retired now but has spent a lifetime in football. Many of his former students occupy prominent positions in the game today.

Lange also coached Terzic as a player. Together, they were two-time winners of the Germany University Championship. Terzic played up front and his partner in attack was Hannes Wolf, who would later coach Stuttgart, Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburg, and now works for the DFB.

Lange remembers Terzic as a good footballer, but a dedicated and diligent student.

“Edin completed his studies very conscientiously,” Lange says. “He studied all scientific areas intensively, and football was — and still is — his absolute focus.

“He took everything that university and sports science could offer in preparation for his career. His work was meticulous. Edin is actually much more qualified than many top German coaches who went before him — like Ottmar Hitzfeld, Christoph Daum or Jurgen Klopp.”

Terzic (in gold boots) celebrating winning the university title in 2006 (Peter Lange)

Terzic was a good player. He played in the fourth tier of German football. The highlight of his playing days was winning the Westfalen Cup with Westfalia Herne in 2006. Terzic scored twice in the final against Delbrucker, a team then coached by Roger Schmidt, who now manages Benfica.

It remains the highest point in Herne’s history. Frank Schulz, their manager between 2003 and 2008, has remained in touch with Terzic in the years since and sees little difference in the person he is now to who he was then.

“Edin used to be exactly the same as he is today,” Schulz told Reviersport in 2023. “He doesn’t change and knows where he comes from. We still have contact now and then, he’s a great person. When we write to each other, he always writes back with ‘Hello Coach’.”

Jurgen Koers, the sports editor of the Ruhr Nachrichten, believes the modest nature of Terzic’s playing career seems to have shaped him as a coach, engendering a work ethic that has defined his approach.

“It fits into the context of Edin as someone who hasn’t been a professional player himself, to get respect this way,” Koers says. “He’s the passionate boy from the neighbourhood, surrounded by millionaires.”

Terzic began working for Dortmund in 2010. Wolf, his old strike partner from their RUB days, was coaching the club’s under-19 side. Terzic became Wolf’s assistant, while also working under Sven Mislintat, another former Lange pupil, who was Dortmund’s chief scout.

It could not have been better timed. Jurgen Klopp had been there for two years and by 2013 Dortmund had won back-to-back Bundesliga titles, had thrashed Bayern Munich 5-2 to win the DFB-Pokal Final in 2012, and made a Champions League final in 2013. That was also at Wembley.

That Terzic is the coach leading them back there on Saturday owes much to a piece of opposition analysis — but not for Dortmund.


By 2012, Terzic had come to know Slaven Bilic, then the head coach of the Croatian national team. Bilic was preparing for Euro 2012. Croatia would face the Republic of Ireland in the group stage. Bilic wondered whether Terzic could help him construct a game plan to beat an Irish side who had conceded only eight goals in 12 qualifying games.

Terzic said: “I put down a few observations and ideas for playing. Things like Luka Modric’s position. The Irish always closed down the No 10 space really effectively, so in order to get Modric on the ball as often possible, it was necessary for him to play deeper, almost like a quarterback.”

Croatia won 3-1. Modric got two assists and, just as Terzic had advised, Bilic and his players would exploit a lack of height in the Irish defence and their vulnerability at full-back.

In Madrid in 2022. From left: Terzic, Bilic, Bilic’s son Leo, Kenneth Asquez (Bilic’s advisor), Ilhan Gundogan

Bilic would become a catalyst for Terzic’s growth.

“Edin is like a younger brother to Slaven,” says Kenneth Asquez, Bilic’s advisor. When the Croatian was appointed head coach of Besiktas in 2013, Terzic became his assistant coach.

“Slaven contacted Michael Zorc at Dortmund. There was some apprehension, but he’d seen Slav’s great work with Croatia and thought Dortmund could benefit,” Asquez adds. “They agreed on a ‘loan’ for a couple of years — it ended up being five. As soon as they were all sacked from West Ham (where Bilic and Terzic went after Besiktas), within a month Edin was back at Dortmund.

“The best attribute I find he has as a manager is his human attributes. He’ll be like a father figure to a player who’s down and then, if he needs to be, he’ll be the school teacher with a naughty schoolboy who hasn’t pulled up his socks. He’ll do it.”

Successful Dortmund head coaches in the modern era have possessed those human qualities. But when Bilic left West Ham and Terzic returned to the Westfalenstadion, a sense of success had disappeared.

Klopp and Thomas Tuchel were long gone. Peter Bosz was dismissed just six months after arriving and there was a feeling that Dortmund’s native culture was on the wane. Hans-Joachim Watzke, the CEO, and Zorc believed that one way to address this was with some homespun DNA. Terzic was appointed as an assistant to Lucien Favre, Bosz’s replacement in 2018. It was a direct link back to the Klopp era. It also provided the board with a connection to the playing squad.

Ultimately, it put Terzic in the right place at the right time. He became interim head coach when Favre was sacked in December 2020. He won the DFB-Pokal at the end of that season, acquiring the credibility needed to take the job permanently when Marco Rose, Favre’s intended successor, left the club in 2022.

It has not been an easy ride for Terzic — not least because of the end of last season.

After the draw against Mainz that saw Dortmund miss out on the Bundesliga, Terzic locked himself away from the world. Alongside the pressures of the year and the disappointment at its end, he had been grieving for months.

“When they played in Sevilla (in the Champions League in the October), Edin’s dad had just passed away after a long illness. The way he handled it was amazing,” says Asquez.  “It was no surprise that the first thing that Bellingham did when he scored was run straight to Edin.”

Bellingham celebrating with Terzic during the Sevilla game (David Ramos/Getty Images)

Terzic finds it difficult to detach from football. He rarely talks to his players at full time because he says he gets too emotional. Even when he gets home, there are certain rooms from which the game has had to be banned.

Last summer, he and his wife took their daughters on holiday, but then it was quickly back into the rhythm of professional football. Everywhere Dortmund went, they were asked about what had happened.

Terzic responded by working hard. “He is a serious person,” says Koers. “And he’s really hard-working. When there’s a crisis, he demands from himself first. He works even harder. He sets the example.”

Terzic is always learning, too. Throughout his coaching career, he has been maintaining a dossier full of ideas, which is now almost 400 pages long. He has had those habits for a long time.

His hard work might be how Dortmund have recovered for this run in Europe. The performances have kept him in this job. “In January, he was a bit under pressure in his job and the Champions League helped keep him there,” says Asquez.


Dortmund backed him, but also reconfigured his coaching staff by bringing former players Nuri Sahin and Sven Bender back to the club to work with the attack and defence respectively.

And while locals know that he is a local and grew up a fan, there is no inherent goodwill. “You don’t hear (the chant) ‘Terzic is one of us’ very often,” says Stephen Uersfeld, a reporter from NTV.de.

Terzic has faced plenty of opposition since taking charge full time. Fans have unified around this Champions League run — and, of course, the final — but this is not necessarily the most harmonious relationship.

“Personally, I believe he’s been great for BVB,” says Uersfeld, “but he still has more lives than a cat.”

As recently as February, after a bad run of form culminating in a dreadful home defeat to Hoffenheim, his job was again under threat. He survived. Dortmund themselves remain very keen to stress Terzic’s homespun credentials and the blue-collar qualities of his story.

“Edin is a Dortmund guy. He is a former supporter,” Carsten Cramer, Dortmund’s commercial director, says.

“Whatever he reached, he reached by himself. He is a very ambitious person. He loves the club and shows it in how he identifies with the club and the loyalty he shows in every minute he works for this club.

“His emotion and the intensity he represents: that is Dortmund. He believes in his abilities, he believes in our qualities, our dreams… that is something he was able to transfer to the team week by week. He is really someone who is able to convince and attract people with his belief in their abilities.”

Terzic has been under pressure this season (Lars Baron/Getty Images)

A lot of players, past and present, remain close to Terzic. After the Mainz game last May, Mark Noble, with whom Terzic had worked with at West Ham, was one of many to get in touch.

But Terzic’s emotional side can also be divisive. While Koers describes him as a “gentle” person and as someone who knows everybody’s name at the club and how to make people feel that they matter, among supporters, Uersfeld says, his manner of speaking and his tendency to appeal to fans’ emotions can be grating.

“His speeches are sometimes overloaded with pathos. Unfortunately, that can make him quite a meme-able coach when things don’t go well.”

Some are even harsher.

“I don’t rate him highly, especially as a coach,” says Arthur Kaldynski, a Dortmund season ticket holder since the 1990s. “Emotionally, he’s a Dortmund man through and through. Regardless, somehow I am even annoyed by that.”

To outsiders, that will no doubt seem strange. While Dortmund have often been poor in the Bundesliga, individual players have raised their games for these European occasions. There are really two Dortmunds: one is the fifth-best team in the Bundesliga; the other is a battle-hardened warrior side, who come alive under the lights and who have forced their way to Wembley by force of will.

And they have been led there by Terzic, a coach no one is quite convinced by, but one who can live out a boyhood dream and make up for last season on Saturday night.

Additional reporting: Adam Leventhal

(Top photo: Terzic after draw with Mainz, and Terzic (middle of front row) as part of RUM’s football team on tour in Rome, 2006: Getty Images; Peter Lange)

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