Fabian Hürzeler hits his Premier League target by taking Brighton job at 31

<span>Fabian Hürzeler is relishing the chance to work in the Premier League at Brighton.</span><span>Photograph: Steven Paston/PA</span>
Fabian Hürzeler is relishing the chance to work in the Premier League at Brighton.Photograph: Steven Paston/PA

At 31, Fabian Hürzeler, the Premier League’s youngest permanent head coach, is fulfilling a long-term ambition. “It’s always been the ­target,” he said when unveiled at Brighton’s training complex on Tuesday. “It’s important in life to have targets for orientation and it was always a target to be in the Premier League. But it’s also surprising that it’s now.”

Sitting alongside the owner, Tony Bloom, the chief executive, Paul ­Barber, and the technical director, David Weir, the German made a confident media debut.

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Born in Houston, Texas in ­February 1993, after the ­Premier League’s inception, ­Hürzeler holds US citizen­ship and there was no requirement of a translator for the former St Pauli coach. While acknowledging the influence of ­German forerunners in ­England such as Thomas Tuchel and Jürgen Klopp, he looked most forward to meeting the “best coach in the world, Pep Guardiola”.

Hürzeler categorised himself alongside the new coaches taking charge for the next Premier League season. “Arne Slot from Feyenoord is a great coach,” he said of Liverpool’s new arrival. “It’s so equal, it’s so amazing to have this challenge with the best coaches in the world and the best players in the world.”

Having led St Pauli to the 2.Bundesliga title last season, ­Hürzeler joined a club he visited during their winter break in ­December, looking up the midfielder Pascal Gross and Weir to be impressed by the set-up. WhenOnce Brighton parted ways with Roberto De Zerbi in May after disagreements over the club’s future direction, Hürzeler became the ­leading candidate once the Ipswich manager, Kieran ­McKenna, demurred.

Barber, who carried out negotiations that included a smaller backroom staff than De Zerbi’s, said Brighton’s squad was in the hands of someone “humble, smart, intelligent and a great communicator”.

Hürzeler acknowledged his precocious age but the former Bayern Munich trainee pointed to eight years in professional coaching as foundation to the “friendly authority” of his “authentic” leadership style. When Brighton’s call came during a post‑season holiday, he told friends “I will walk” to a club he said was the “perfect match” for his outlook. “The first feeling was that I wanted to do it, to have a new challenge in my life.”

Sleeve-tattooed, with a touchline hotheadedness that landed him seven yellow cards this past season, he has swapped a left-wing club in Hamburg for Brighton’s liberal south‑coast charms and the chance to work with “open-minded people, open to different cultures”, on board with a data-led approach.

“De Zerbi had a huge impact here,” he said. “But you have to have your own identity, your own philosophy. I think it is also important to take some elements and always adapt it. If you stay at one point, you won’t do well any more.”

Bloom, hailing the new arrival as a “a great fit”, dismissed as “background noise” the transfer bartering that took place last weekend between Premier League peers to avoid profitability and sustainability punishments, even though Brighton benefited in the £33m signing of the Newcastle winger Yankuba Minteh.

“I don’t like the idea of having points deductions mid-season,” Bloom said of a continuing uncertainty. “It would be much better if clubs didn’t put the Premier League in the position where they have to hand out punishments.”

After selling talent for heavy premiums over the previous two summers, Bloom refused to make specific predictions for this transfer window but said: “We are in a very strong position and we don’t need to sell anyone. There’s no guarantees but by the end of August we will have a very talented squad.”

Brighton have the reputation of a model club but previous paragons such as Southampton and Leicester have undergone falls from grace after ill-fated decision-making and the owner said: “At some point clubs get relegated. I hope that when Brighton get relegated I will be a very old man. We don’t worry about these things.”