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Robin Dutt's tale of Bengali food, Indian roots and Bundesliga

08:30 BST 23/08/2019
Robin Dutt
From the city of Dum Dum to VfL Bochum, it has been a remarkable journey for Robin Dutt...

The last time Robin Dutt had Bengali food was on his birthday a few months ago. The Vfl Bochum manager took his colleagues out to an Indian restaurant near the club's ground and had a good time. 

While he isn't a MasterChef when it comes to Indian food, there are aspects of the country that Dutt likes when growing up. His late father, who was a doctor, lived in Dum Dum city in Kolkata and Dutt enjoyed his holidays and local football whenever he had a chance to fly to India. Destiny took him on a wondrous journey, with coaching stints at clubs like Bayer Leverkusen and Freiburg, and the role of a sporting director for the German national team part of his long professional career. 

"My father was born in Kolkata, he came to Stuttgart in the early 60s. I was born in 1965 in Koln. I have two sisters and grew up in Germany, so if we have holidays, we would be in Kolkata but not it has been a long time since my last visit. I think it has been over 30 years. 

Dutt started out as a lower league coach at the age of 30 and then signed his first professional contract in 2002 with TSF Ditzingen. He helped Freiburg gain promotion to the Bundesliga during his four-year spell. His spell at Leverkusen, though, lasted only a season.

"Chelsea were in our group, they won against Munich in the final that year (2012). But we won against Chelsea when we played!" he reminisced.

However, Dutt admits he could have done things differently at Bayer Leverkusen where he was sacked after a single season. One of those things was managing Michael Ballack. "At Freiburg, if the coach says everybody go left, everybody goes left. In Leverkusen, if the coach says everybody goes left, some guys stand there and think, is the coach correct? We should go right. He's (Ballack) is one of these guys, very experienced. Not easy but you can manage. I made a few mistakes, I managed him the wrong way."

VfL Bochum in winless in their first three games of the 2019-20 Bundesliga 2 campaign but Dutt is optimistic about a turnaround. He believes that pressure is a constant at all German clubs and Bochum's financial situation means they need to bank on the development of the young players, an aspect which even Bundesliga as a whole, is very persistent about. 

"In Bundesliga 2, all clubs are under pressure. Every club has to find the same way. If you're like Bayern or Dortmund, you are able to buy a lot of players. But at a club like Bochum, we don't have much money. So getting the young players is very important and we try to bring up players. That is the only way to be successful and that is what we're trying.'

Germany suffered a shock exit at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and as a former sporting director to the team, Dutt hopes that the nation returns to spending time for the young players.

"German football wasn't very good before 2000. Then we changed something - every first and second division club needed to have an academy and they did a really good job. The mindset changed and we had a lot of good young players. Then I think we forgot the things that made us good. The money came in and we started to buy a lot of players. Now I think we have to go back. We have 80 million people in Germany, Iceland, with 1 million, is playing in the World Cup." 

The 54-year-old has also backed Joachim Low to continue to deliver success at the national level as he is a firm believer of a long-term approach with regards to coaching.

"Not one player in this team player was there seven years ago. There is always a new coach because there are always new players. Maybe the fans need a new coach but he is not a coach of the fans. He is a perfect coach. I think the quality would be better if the coaches stay longer at their clubs. Coach isn't for picking starting lineups, coaches are at clubs to improve players over a period of time. "

After a 20-year long journey in German football, Dutt is keeping his options open about a return to India, this time as a head coach.

"I will (coach an Indian club), maybe in one year, (if) I'm not a coach here anymore, I don't know. During the next break, it may be possible. There is a lot of hire and fire in the soccer world. I won't go to any club to be fired in 6-7 months."

It would make a great story. Never say never, as they say.