Exclusive Interview: Thomas Thomasberg

James Rowe for The Secret Footballer

(Image credit: B.T.)

JR: I would like to take you back to the start of your footballing journey. How did your journey to becoming a professional player and subsequent manager begin?

TT: Since I was a child I always loved football and it has always been a big part of my life. My father was my coach for four years when I was a child. When I became professional, I was 16 years old at Aalborg Boldspilklub. I started out in the youth team and after two and a half years I made my debut - I became a part of the first team squad for five years. I was part of the team that won AaB's first national championship win back in 1999 - I was just 20 years old at the time, it was a very big achievement but I didn’t know how big because when you are young you just want to play football. I also had no nerves when playing games. Aalborg Boldspilklub was formed in 1885 so winning their first Danish championship was special. I made 172 appearances for the club, including playing in the Champions League in 1995. I was then sold to FC Midtjylland when they were first established in 1999. I was one of the first players they brought so I was a part of the club from day one and that was a little bit special because it was two clubs from the Danish first division who fused together. FC Midtjylland started out life in the Danish first division and we got promoted to the Danish Super Lig after just one season and also went on to qualify for Europe. I then sustained a knee injury and at the time I still had three and a half years of my contract left to run so FC Midtjylland were talking about me becoming a coach. Although we had talked about this when I signed my contract extension. I was also captain of the team, I think that it was always on the cards that I was going to become a coach later in my career. I became an assistant coach at only 30 years of age and although the best thing is to play football the other is the age and it was a fine thing for me to become part of the backroom staff of Danish top football. I knew the team well due to having been a part of it but it was totally different to become a coach instead of a player because as a player you are always thinking about yourself even though I was a captain, you need to change your mindset because it is about getting people to work together.

JR: You became manager of Randers FC in 2018. How are you enjoying your role at the club so far and what would you describe as the challenges of managing a club such as Randers FC?

TT: I had been assistant coach at Randers FC to Colin Todd for three years and I learnt a lot of things from him about how to manage a team both on and off the pitch, it was a great experience to work under him. I was also manager and assistant coach at FC Midtjylland, what I like is to be part of a team. I think we are doing it in a modern way here at Randers. Sometimes there is a big distance between players and coaches, I think it’s important that I have the trust of my players and the players trust their coach. That is the difference because if the players are doing well, the coach will do well. If the coach is treating them the right way and improving them there will be success for individual players. I am always trying to treat my players in the same way but at the same time, you have to do it differently because all players and people are different.

JR: You managed FC Midtjylland for one season. You mentioned that you played for the club. How do you look back on that season and do you have any highlights or memories? '

TT: Yes, I only managed FC Midtjylland for one season but we had our first big European victory away against Manchester City in 2008. We won the first leg 1-0 and in the last minute before the second leg we were through and we conceded an own goal and the match ended up going to penalties, I think it was Manchester City's first loss at home in Europe for many years. I remember the second leg 10 minutes before the end I was looking at the then coach Mark Hughes, I could see that he was so frustrated and irritated because FC Midtjylland had the game totally under control although we ended up conceding an own goal. I remember when I made eye contact with Mark Hughes that it was a big shock as Manchester City should not be losing to a Danish team.

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JR: As a manager in your own right. How would you describe your coaching ethos  and philosophy?

TT: One thing is that I have a style of play, how we will defend and how we will attack- of course this is what we spent time working on in the training ground and I think that is important that you have a way that you want to play both in defending and attacking. I think that the important thing is the players mentality, it’s so important because if they have the right mentality it is much easier when you have difficult times and you need to make difficult decisions. I have two things, the main thing is honesty to the players and although I am not sure if they like or understand certain decisions at times but I have a decision to make and if I tell them my decision and the way that I want to do things. I think in certain clubs some players do not know why they are on the bench or out of the team. The hard work of a team is just as important if you work hard and you try to do your best if you do that what more can you ask as a manager.

JR: Finally Thomas. Looking ahead to the future. Is there anything in particular that you would like to achieve in the remainder of your managerial career?

TT: I think the important thing is as a manager and a player is to be 100 percent where you are. In terms of the future, you can have an idea and you might make a plan and by following your plan , I think bigger opportunities will come to you. So it is just to do as well as you can for your current club. I might be here at Randers FC for another, six months, five years or the club might sack me, or I may do my job so well that other clubs will come and look at me - so it is not like I am thinking about a plan for the future. I do not think that you can plan a career 100 percent. I just love and enjoy being a part of Randers FC just like when I was a player and I hope I can continue to do that until I am between the ages of 65 - 70 years old.

James Rowe is a Dutch Football expert based in the Netherlands, professional writer and translator for The Secret Footballer. He has featured on talkSPORT and regularly features on talkSPORT 2 and Love Sport Radio. You can follow him on Twitter here.