Julian Nagelsmann reveals father was German spy who took his own life

<span>Germany head coach Julian Nagelsmann in Paris earlier this month for the Nations League draw.</span><span>Photograph: Uefa/Getty Images</span>
Germany head coach Julian Nagelsmann in Paris earlier this month for the Nations League draw.Photograph: Uefa/Getty Images

The Germany manager Julian Nagelsmann has spoken about the death of his father, who he revealed worked in the country’s equivalent of MI6 before ending his own life 16 years ago.

Nagelsmann, who will lead the host nation’s Euro 2024 campaign this summer, described being on a coaching course when he was told of father Erwin’s death. For much of his youth he had believed Erwin was a soldier before learning, during his teens, that he was an operative for Germany’s federal intelligence service.

“I’m not allowed to say anything more about it, and I don’t even know exactly what he did,” Nagelsmann said in an interview with Der Spiegel. “However he was not in administration.

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“I was 15 or 16 [when he told me]. Often on trips to training from Landsberg, where we lived, to Munich [he would mention it]. Then, he said a little but it was more in the micropercentage range. He wasn’t allowed to talk about his job. That was also the reason why he often said it was all too much for him. There was no sharing of worries in his job. In the end it put a lot of strain on him.”

Nagelsmann recalled wrestling with the reasons for his father’s death. “That was difficult,” he said. “My dad didn’t leave a suicide note, there was no explanation. But the way he took his own life made it clear that his decision was absolutely clear to him. It feels really shit for the family, but it helped me to know that he really wanted to die and it wasn’t about a cry for help or a signal. I think I have to respect such a decision.

“My dad was actually a very funny guy who made jokes and was always laughing, who liked being with friends, playing the guitar and always singing. But I think it was a combination of his workload and his general condition. By the end of his life he had already changed; the pressure of his career was noticeable.”

Last March Nagelsmann was sacked by Bayern Munich after almost two years in charge at Allianz Arena. Bayern are searching for a new manager again after announcing Thomas Tuchel will leave at the end of this season and have been linked with luring Xabi Alonso from the surprise Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen. Nagelsmann warned, though, that time is not always a luxury afforded to Bayern managers.

“I was signed by Bayern with the proviso that I would change things,” he said. “There are clubs that give you time. Jürgen Klopp was at Liverpool for five years before he became champion there for the first time. Pep Guardiola only won the Champions League title with Manchester City after seven years. The coaches at Bayern Munich don’t get as much time to develop something.”

In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on freephone 116 123, or email or In the US, you can call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 988, chat on, or text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at