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José Mourinho v Julian Nagelsmann: yesterday’s man v force of the future?

At 32, RB Leipzig’s coach is 25 years younger than his Spurs counterpart – their Champions League meeting feels like a battle of two eras

On Wednesday night, as Tottenham take on RB Leipzig, José Mourinho might look across at the opposing bench and recognise something very familiar. In Julian Nagelsmann, the coach of RB Leipzig, he will see a driven man who desperately wanted to be a footballer whose career ended prematurely, somebody who quit a university business course to focus on sport, somebody who from a remarkably early age has been marked out as one of the brightest coaches of their generation.

He will see, in other words, a version of his younger self. Tim Wiese, the wrestler and former goalkeeper, even nicknamed Nagelsmann “Mini-Mourinho” during his time as assistant coach at Hoffenheim. And perhaps in that, Mourinho will feel a pang of mortality. At 32, Nagelsmann is 25 years younger: he is the future while Mourinho is repeatedly battling suggestions he may be the past.

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