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Remembering Ralf Rangnick and his days in Southwick

The man renowned as being the driving force behind Red Bull’s rise in football, Ralf Rangnick had a brief yet memorable spell in England.

Ralf Rangnick was recently linked with a move to AC Milan. He was still in the position of Chief Director of Global Sport for Red Bull at the time. Which meant that he was overseeing football operations across three clubs – RB Leipzig, Salzburg, Liefering and Bragantino.

The German tactician is revered and regarded as the father of modern football in Germany. Despite not boasting the greatest of CVs in terms of trophies, Rangnick is someone who takes his teams to another level.

A great disciple of the game, the German was fascinated by Valeriy Lobanovskyi’s Dynamo Kyiv side of the 1980s. The legendary Ukranian manager’s Dynamo side are highly regarded in the pantheon of great footballing sides.

Rangnick is a well-traveled man. And in his early days as a professional, he decided to turn out for Southwick FC, a non-league club in England. Coupled with his footballing duties, he was also studying at the University of Sussex.

Lessons in Southwick

“He did not really improve in his time with Southwick but you do not have to be a good player to be a good manager. He was very enthusiastic but I understand he is now seen as a bit eccentric.”

-Former Southwick manager Jimmy Collins on Rangnick in 2011 ( The Mirror )

Rangnick’s teams are generally famous for being very intense in their pressing and attacking style. A manager who advocates being proactive on and off the ball, his time at Southwick inspired his principles significantly.

Although Southwick seems like a small part in the grand scheme of Rangnick’s well-storied career, he was quite inspired by his time there.

Speaking to the Guardian in 2011, Rangnick recalled his days at Southwick fondly.

“There was hardly a situation where we didn’t spur each other on, doing some coaching among ourselves or motivating each other. That was totally inspirational for me and certainly moulded me.”

– Ralf Rangnick in 2011, to the Guardian.

Ragnick’s stint at Southwick was a matter of good circumstance, more than anything else. He had arrived in England as part of his exchange program at the University of Stuttgart. In Sussex, he was attempting to broaden his understanding of the nuances of football by studying physical education and English.

One of the best years of his life

The German did not make many appearances for Southwick. A total of 11 appearances was all that he could manage, of which only two were starts.

He hailed his time in Sussex as “one of the best years” of his life, which also further supplemented his success in the future.

One of his team-mates Gary Brown recalled his experiences playing with Rangnick, while speaking to the Guardian.

“You couldn’t wish for an easier bloke to work with, as a manager. He was always interested in what you wanted.”

– Gary Brown, on Rangnick.

It seems rather curious that a manager with such a global reputation would have roots in Sussex. However, Rangnick is a unique character and even today, he remembers his time spent in Sussex fondly. He also formed a special bond with a family who he lived with, as a student.

As much as he is influenced by the bigger names in the landscape of football, he is also equally influenced by the smaller experiences in his life. Those very experiences have served him well in a career that has taken him across the breadth of German football. And it is those lessons that ‘the Professor’ will carry as he looks ahead with optimism to the next chapter of his life.

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