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Peter Hyballa exclusive: Working at Borussia Dortmund & Bayer Leverkusen; critiquing Dutch & German youth football

Peter Hyballa is one of those new breed of modern coaches. Still youthful, yet with 20 years of experience behind him, the German has been a globetrotter - and also has worked inside some of the biggest clubs in Europe.

Amongst his cv are successful stints with the academies of Borussia Dortmund, VfL Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen, while his career has also taken him to Austria and Sturm Graz, Holland with NEC Nijmegen and NAC Breda, plus spells in Poland, Denmark and Slovakia.

Known for his passion and forthright views, Hyballa is one of the great characters in the game - and is never short of an opinion. He is currently a free agent after parting ways with NAC earlier this season - the decision being made after leading the club into the Eerste playoffs the previous term.

In this rambling, wide-ranging Q&A, Peter takes us through his career, his approach to coaching and what he has planned for the future.

You're a real globetrotter, Peter. Why the wanderlust?

"Many countries are the same. Because most football players are the same - it offers not so many differences. Maybe you get in one country more feedback from the players and the staff than in another country.

"If you go abroad you are brave and a kind of pioneer because you always enter in a closed-off culture. For me, it was not a big problem because I am always curious and have always had a little bit of that wanderlust, as you say.

"I have also always had my philosophy: high pressing, big intensity, offensive spectacle, many positional changes and giving everything for your club. And working, trying, working, and being ambitious. So I've taken this philosophy wherever I go."

You've spent several years inside Dutch football, does it suit you?

"Dutch football has always had fantastic young players. Many good talents. The culture there is focused on possession play and nice technical skills. But for me, the Dutch training philosophy is too rigid and they must work more in intensity and power football. There is room for improvement in the Netherlands."

What about in your homeland? What is the standard of youth football in Germany?

"The question is always what is the benchmark? If you always have to win all the tournaments, then it hasn't been great in recent years. On the other hand, the U21s and U17s have won great titles. I believe that German football has always developed great players and meticulously prepares them for professional football. Maybe a little too much structure and uniformity - in fact, I'd say there needs to be more creativity and playfulness.

"But I am confident that the national team's results will also improve, perhaps at the next European Championships..."

So you're tipping the hosts to win the Euros?

"Oh, details always decide tournaments. I think the favourites are always the same teams. But all nations have moved closer together. Of course, Germany can win the title if everything goes perfectly."

Returning to your youth coaching, you must have worked with some potential world-beaters...?

"I trained many good players. At Preussen Münster I can say Christian Pander. At VfL Wolfsburg I can say Sergej Evljuskin. Tolgay Arslan, Mario Götze, Antonio Rüdiger. During my time with Dortmund U19, Zoltan Stieber, Marco Höger... and Mark Flekken at Alemannia Aachen, Richard Sukuta-Pasu and Florian Kainz with Sturm Graz.

"There's so many. During my time at Bayern Leverkusen, I can say Heung-Min-Son, Emre Can, Stephan Kießling, Julian Brandt, Emir Spahic, and Benjamin Henrichs. Ferdi Kadioglu and Arnaut Danjuma at NEC. Zsolt Kalmar, Vakoun Issouf Bayo, Martin Jedlicka, Lubomir Satka with DAC.

"A couple we now see at Brighton - Jan-Paul van Hecke and Bart Verbruggen at NAC Breda. Also at Wisla Krakow, Pjotr Starzynski, Yaw Yeboah and Stefan Savic. So as you see I have trained many good players who are now rich and famous! But for me, it is more important that they are good human beings."

You had a year with RB Salzburg - what is it like to work within that Red Bull structure?

"The aim is to work with very good young players and that they have a clear philosophy - a successful playing style, gegenpressing, many deep runs.

"They have a lot of money - so they are very attractive to the best talents in the world. These players arrive knowing they can play in the Austrian Bundesliga. In the youth, they have a good partnership with the Academy and FC Lieferung and the first team. They also always have ambitious young coaches who want to go the next step.

"In this club I found a top sporting mentality. I had many clubs that didn't have this mentality. There was more mediocrity, uninspired club legends, and boring officialdom fueling the club. At Red Bull, it was completely different."

What of another of your old clubs, Bayer Leverkusen, and the work of Xabi Alonso?

“What Alonso is doing together with his staff is brilliant. Because he's combined top possession play with sprinting intensity. He's used a high tempo game, with very good actions in the half spaces and the wing spaces. And of course he is always winning - that is necessary for a coach.

"Leverkusen have been a positive in the Bundesliga this season and for me also have FC Heidenheim. It's fantastic what they are doing inside the whole club. Also, VfB Stuttgart is having a brilliant season playing attractive football. I don't want to say anything about negative phenomena. That's not my place."

Finally Peter, what's next? We haven't seen you in football since September and NAC...

“I've been without a club for six months now. So I'm excited for the next task. But it has to be right, for the club, for the country, for the task. I need creative, ambitious people around me who have a competitive sports brain. That gives me more freedom in my task - because then I can function best.

"In the past, I had directors who wanted to dictate everything to me. I'm a free spirit and a total workaholic who loves developing players and can give field training all day. That's why I need like-minded people who think like that, then something big can happen - which I have already impressively proven with 'dead' teams and with many talents. I can do something - but also want to be working respectfully.

"In the meantime, I've done a lot of things and worked as a coach and speaker. I also worked as a TV host and expert. Gave many coaching workshops around the world and was in Australia for a while to get to grips with their football culture and visited my former player Tolgay Arslan.

"In the background, I work on coaching, psychological things, football, laptop analysis and my branding. I have opened also my website But I am ready and focused on the next coaching job."

- for more about Peter Hyballa, visit

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Xhulio Zeneli


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