Domenico Tedesco will unveil his first list this Friday. For the occasion, the Italian-German coach spoke at length to Kicker magazine, in the edition published on Monday. He notably revealed that he refused more lucrative offers to become the Devils’ national coach. “Money is not something that attracts me,” he said.
Tedesco had been free since leaving Leipzig in September. He explained that he had been contacted by several clubs, including from the Bundesliga. “When I am contacted and there is an interview, the clubs can be sure that nothing will leak out from my side. That’s why I don’t comment on the names. There were offers and also discussions, but in the end everything has to stick, and I have to feel like things can change quickly. I didn’t feel that,” the 37-year-old said.
“Money is not something that attracts me. I can say that in good conscience, and it also shows in many stages of my resume,” he explained.
Euro 2024 in the viewfinder
Tedesco was appointed head of the national team last month, as successor to Roberto Martinez, who left after the elimination in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. “I presented my ideas,” said the coach. “My analysis was based on the three World Cup matches. I tried to compare my idea of football with the one we saw in Qatar. And I presented a pool of players so that the Federation can realize that I do not only know the stars. No one said: ‘Coach, you have to rejuvenate the team‘.”
The objective is clear: Tedesco will have to lead the Red Devils to Euro 2024, whose qualifications will begin on March 24 in Sweden, for his first match at the head of the national team. A friendly in Germany will follow four days later.
“It would be very dangerous to believe that it will be easy. My job is to take a closer look. The Austrians won against Italy in November with a squad made up mostly of Bundesliga professionals. The Swedes are always difficult to maneuver, and there are no easy opponents anyway,” he said. “In the Conference League, just four weeks ago, Ghent learned the hard way what could happen in Azerbaijan. Qualifying will not be a walk in the park.”
The Italian-German spoke about his first selection, indicating that the list of 130 potential players “has already shrunk considerably”. He also reacted to the thorny subject of the oldest Devils, after the international retirements of Eden Hazard, Toby Alderwereild or Simon Mignolet. “It’s all about quality, I told managers that from day one. When we play next week, the best players, in our opinion, will be on the pitch. And if the best in some position is 35, he has to play too,” he said.
The end of the golden generation?
The end of the golden generation is regularly mentioned. An assertion that does not validate the new coach. “After the disappointing World Cup, we heard everywhere: ‘Game over is the end of the golden generation!’. I would like to make a distinction. Kevin De Bruyne is 31, he certainly doesn’t think it’s the end. And me neither, certainly not”, he launched. “He is an absolute top player. During the discussions with the executives of the team, it appeared that Kevin is a very important element. When he is in good shape, he takes the team with him. That’s why we want a fit and motivated Kevin De Bruyne.”
As a young coach, he said he was not intimidated by the stars present in the Belgian team, such as Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois or even Romelu Lukaku. “For me, they are above all important people with whom I work and towards whom I am open, fair and respectful. Their name and their importance in the team don’t make a difference,” he concluded.
He considers that the Devils have a lot of up-and-coming players. “In Belgium, there are a lot of young talents, some born in 2005, who are breaking into their club. There is something exciting developing,” he added. “To take just one example: Arthur Vermeeren turned 18 in February and is already a regular at Antwerp. The Cercle de Bruges has a very young team with interesting players, including Hugo Siquet, on loan from SC Fribourg. They are on our list, but that does not mean that they will already be present in the first international matches.
Belgium, “a country where people are crazy about football”
Tedesco felt that Belgium is “a country where people are crazy about football” and has “a team with good players playing all over Europe”. He thinks the team needs to “push the button to restart after the World Cup disappointment in Qatar.”
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