Ah, assistant coaches — the often overlooked, unheralded figures on the bench next to the big names. You’ve heard of Jose Mourinho, but how about João Sacramento? Zsolt Löw? Albert Stuivenberg? Hansi Flick — okay, bad example.
While Thomas Müller and Joshua Kimmich lead Bayern Munich on the field, 41-year-old Dino Toppmöller is head coach Julian Nagelsmann’s right-hand man near the stands. Bayern raised some eyebrows last summer by paying RB Leipzig an additional six-figure sum at Nagelsmann’s insistence for his assistant’s services, but Toppmöller is more than earning his keep. This week, he was the subject of a nice profile in Sport1, reporting from which we’ll highlight below.
Toppmöller had only arrived at Leipzig in Nagelsmann’s final year, but impressed the current Bayern trainer so much that he was called over to Munich to continue their partnership. When Nagelsmann had to miss a run of games last October due to COVID, Toppmöller stepped in — presiding over 4-0 wins over SL Benfica and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, a 5-2 win against Union Berlin, and a DFB-Pokal cup tie against Borussia Mönchengladbach whose result we won’t mention.
Still, it was a largely positive experience for a man not overawed by the occasion. For him, relations are key to the job — whether he’s in the gaffer’s chair or only an assistant to the manager.
“[I believe] that people management is somewhat more important than pure expertise. The player should accept you as a coach, but also as a person,” he expressed to Transfermarkt (as captured in the Sport1 profile).
Toppmöller’s had his turn as the head man before — for SV Mehring in Germany to FC RM Hamm Benfica and F91 Düdelingen in Luxembourg, the latter of which he took to the Europa League group stages, and finally for RE Virton in the Belgium second tier. And he’ll be eyeing that again at some point in the future.
“That’s already my ambition and my goal, but I feel perfectly comfortable in my current role at FC Bayern,” he said. “That’s why there’s no reason for me to want to change anything right now.”
Indeed, the good times are rolling in Bavaria, and 2022/23 is proving to be a showcase for Julian Nagelsmann’s unvarnished, unleashed vision of football. But Toppmöller is already not always in the shadows. He caught the eye after Joshua Kimmich gave him props in the Bundesliga opener:
Around Bayern’s opening win, this became visible again to the wider public. Midfielder Kimmich had scored the first goal of the new Bundesliga season with an unusual free kick. Immediately after the goal, he ran to the substitutes’ bench to high-five the man who had played a major role in the creation of the goal: Dino Toppmöller.
“We trained lateral free kicks, and he then said: ‘You can have a look, Trappo is always standing a bit higher, you can try it there’. And I thought, then I’ll try it,” Kimmich had explained of Toppmöller’s instructions regarding Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp.
The ensuing celebration was one to remember — and as Bayern’s set piece coach as well, not likely to be the last of Toppmöller’s more visible contributions to the team.
Well-versed, well-liked, and central to all the ongoings at Bayern Munich — if we’re lucky, Dino Toppmöller will be here to stay for a while longer yet.