Rangnick: I interviewed for England job, but FA were reluctant to go foreign again

RB Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick has told FourFourTwo that FA technical director Dan Ashworth was very keen to appoint him as England's manager in 2016.

The 58-year-old former Schalke boss has played a pivotal role in the rise of RB Leipzig since becoming sporting director of both the German side and Red Bull Salzburg in 2012.

After stepping in to coach the Bulls in 2015/16 – sealing promotion to the top flight – Rangnick relinquished his duties at Salzburg to concentrate fully on Leipzig.

And under the stewardship of manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, the east German outfit stunned the Bundesliga last season to clinch back-to-back runners-up spots and, as a result, Champions League qualification for the first time in the club’s history.

But Rangnick has revealed that he could have been preparing England for their upcoming internationals against Scotland and France, having interviewed for the job, along with Sam Allardyce, after the humiliating loss to Iceland at Euro 2016.

Ashworth, who previously worked at West Bromwich Albion, wanted to recruit Rangnick when Roy Hodgson left The Hawthorns back in 2012. So when the FA started their search for Hodgson’s successor, the German’s name came up again.

Speaking in the July 2017 issue of FourFourTwo, Rangnick explains: “Dan first contacted me in 2012 and invited me to an interview at West Brom. He offered me the job but I knew he was probably going to join the FA, so I turned it down.

Dan first contacted me in 2012 and invited me to an interview at West Bromwich Albion. He offered me the job but I knew he was probably going to join the FA, so I turned it down. After the Euros he called me again and asked if I would come for an interview for the England job

“After the Euros he called me again and asked if I would come for an interview for the England job. I said, ‘How realistic is that?’

He said that if it was up to him it would be very realistic, but that there were some other people on the board who’d also have a say, and a few of them thought it should be an Englishman. Of course, that’s normal. Three days after I went for the interview, they informed me that Sam Allardyce would be taking over as manager.”

Portraits: Michael Bader

Rangnick is now preparing RB Leipzig for their first tilt at European glory after they finished behind only Bayern Munich in the league last term. And if Ashworth and England came calling once again, the former University of Sussex student admits it would be almost impossible to walk away from the project he’s helped to flourish.

“In football it’s hard to say never, but I am absolutely happy here,” he says. “I couldn’t just leave this for good. If somebody had asked me to do a job like England and nothing else, I would find it almost impossible to give this up.

In football it’s hard to say never, but I couldn’t just leave this for good. If somebody had asked me to do a job like England and nothing else, I would find it almost impossible to give this up

“There’s too much effort, too much passion and too much energy that I have invested over the last five years. When I started in 2012, we were in level four playing in front of 4,000 people. Now there’s 10 times that.

The tempo of development’s been amazing. I thought we could make the Bundesliga in six years, not four, and this season has been a dream. Now it’s starting to be fun.”

NOW READ THIS

Read the full interview with Ralf Rangnick in July 2017 issue of FourFourTwo, which is guest-edited by Barcelona star Lionel Messi and features the new boss discussing a selection of his career highlights. Also this month, we look back at the La Masia academy team that he played in – featuring Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique – and profile the other members of the 500-goal club, which Leo joined during the week that he edited the magazine. Plus, we talk Inter, Champions League glory and ’that’ World Cup goal against England with Javier Zanetti, visit Argentina on its 'weekend of derbies', discuss Liverpool, La Decima and riding motorbikes with Xabi Alonso, and learn what Brexit will mean for football. Order it now, and then subscribe!