Germany manager Julian Nagelsmann reveals father was a German spy and that he later took his own life

Julian Naglesmann, Germany’s national soccer team manager, opened up about the death of his father in an interview with Der Spiegel, revealing he was a German spy and later took his own life.

“(In school) I said what I always believed he was earlier: a professional soldier. Even my grandfather believed his son was a soldier,” Nagelsmann told the German publication.

It wasn’t until the former Bayern Munich manager was 15 or 16 that he learned his father worked for the secret service, he said.

“Before that, I didn’t really think about it. But after he told me where he really worked, I was the one he talked about it with the most,” the 36-year-old said, adding that they would talk about it while traveling to soccer training.

“He explained a bit, but only in microscopic detail. He wasn’t allowed to talk about his job. That was also the reason why he often said that it was all too much for him. Sharing your worries is not something that happened in his job. In the end, that put a lot of strain on him,” Nagelsmann said.

He recalled finding out that his father had committed suicide while on a coaching course near Munich and grappling with the “difficult” aftermath.

“My dad did not leave a suicide note, there was no explanation. But the way in which he took his life made it clear that the decision for him was firm. … For me it was helpful to know, that he definitely wanted to die and it wasn’t about a cry for help or a signal. I find, that I must then respect such a decision,” he said.

Julian Nagelsmann won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich in 2022. - Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
Julian Nagelsmann won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich in 2022. - Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

Naglesmann also spoke about traits he learned from his father that he believes influence his coaching style today, a style that has allowed him to become the youngest permanent head coach in the history of Germany’s top soccer division aged 28, as well as leading Bayern Munich to a Bundesliga title and being appointed Germany’s manager for the 2024 Euros.

He was sacked by Bayern Munich in March 2023 during his second season in charge after the club slipped from the top of the Bundesliga table.

“Right at the beginning of my career, I simply did things without consideration of the impact they would have,” Nagelsmann said. “In my first game as Bundesliga coach at TSG Hoffenheim, I fielded four penalties. Everyone thought I was insane, but we got an important point. Now, I weigh things up more. But the courage to make decisions, that I definitely get from my dad.”

Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know might be at risk of suicide, here are ways to help.

If you live in the US and are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (800-273-TALK) for free and confidential support. It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For crisis support in Spanish, call 888-628-9454.

TrevorLifeline, a suicide prevention counseling service for the LGBTQ community, can be reached at 866-488-7386.

Befrienders Worldwide connects users to the nearest emotional support center for the part of the world they live in.

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