VfL Bochum 1848 has a new head coach: Thomas Letsch takes over responsibility for the professional squad and will lead his first training session next Monday. The 54-year-old moves to Castroper Straße from Dutch first division side Vitesse Arnhem and brings his assistnat coach Jan Fießer with him.
Letsch has finished 4th and 6th with the team from near Gelderland in the past two years, has also been in the Dutch Cup final with Vitesse (2021) and was only narrowly beaten by eventual cup winners AS Roma in the last 16 of the Europa Conference League last season. Bochum is the first German Bundesliga stop for the native Swabian from Esslingen am Neckar, having already managed top division sides in Austria and the Netherlands. He signs a contract with VfL that is valid until June 30, 2024.
Player-coach, assistnat coach, scout, coach: Thomas Letsch's professional career began in 1997 at VfB Oberesslingen-Zell and lead him via the traditional sides like Stuttgarter Kickers and SSV Ulm 1846 to SG Sonnenhof Großaspach. With Württemberger he won promotion to the Regionalliga Süd, and the team also won the Verbandspokal (2009). During his playing days, Letsch completed a teaching degree in sports and mathematics, a profession he pursued for a few years after his time at Großaspach - in Portugal.
Letsch came to the football academy in Salzburg via the current ÖFB team manager Ralf Rangnick. There he coached the U16s and became Austrian champion with the U18s in the 2014/15 season. In between, he also acts as co-coach of Salzburg's Bundesliga team.
From 2015 to 2017, Thomas Letsch is the coach in charge of FC Liefering (Austrian 2. Bundesliga) and also looks after the professionals one league higher for a few games as interim coach. This is followed by a brief stint in the German 2. Bundesliga at FC Erzgebirge Aue and a year at the prestigious Austrian club FK Austria Wien. From July 2020 on, Letsch finally coaches Vitesse Arnhem, leads the Dutch in his first season to the European Cup as well as to the Dutch Cup final and just misses the jump to Europe at the end of the second season.
"Thomas Letsch is our ideal solution for the position of head coach," said Patrick Fabian, Director of Sport at VfL Bochum 1848. "He has the necessary experience in professional football and is able to shape a team with a clear structure and game idea. In addition, at his previous stations he has always driven the further development of talented players. We are confident that, as a very communicative coach, he will succeed in giving the team new impetus and thus achieve the turnaround together with the entire team, the staff and the support of the fans."
"Of course, I am looking forward to getting to know the new team quickly and to tackling the upcoming tasks together with the team," said Thomas Letsch. "Our big goal is for VfL Bochum to continue playing in the Bundesliga next season. We will work very hard to achieve this. The fans have supported the team in an extraordinary way, and we will continue to need this support. Only with cohesion and community will we succeed."
Hans-Peter Villis, CEO of VfL Bochum 1848: "We are delighted that Thomas Letsch has decided to join VfL and use his professional expertise to help put the team on course to stay in the relegation zone. At the same time, we would like to thank Heiko Butscher for taking over the team on an interim basis in a difficult situation and leading it to its first point this season."