Hurzeler, 31, looking to 'challenge establishment' as Brighton boss

Fabian Hurzeler said he wants to “achieve big things and challenge the establishment” during his first press conference as Brighton manager.

The 31-year-old, who is the youngest permanent manager in Premier League history, has taken over at the Amex Stadium after guiding St Pauli to promotion into the Bundesliga last season.

The Texas-born German coach spoke about the magnitude of his move to “the best league in the world” and says he is willing to adapt his philosophy during his tenure.

Brighton’s opening league fixture is away to Everton on August 17.

Fabian Hurzeler is the youngest permanent manager in Premier League history
Fabian Hurzeler is the youngest permanent manager in Premier League history

“I’m aware this is a huge job. It’s a big challenge and I think I need a lot of courage and ability so I need to stay humble,” Hurzeler said on Tuesday.

“My targets, I want to discuss them with my players, they need to be convinced of that, they need to feel what we can achieve, that’s the main thing for me.

“I want to achieve big things and I want to challenge the establishment.

“The Premier League is the best league in the world with a lot of good coaches. You need your own philosophy and identity but it’s important to take other elements and adapt.”

The figures behind Fabian Hurzeler and St Pauli's promotion
The figures behind Fabian Hurzeler and St Pauli’s promotion

Hurzeler has replaced Roberto De Zerbi at Brighton, with the Italian stepping down at the end of last term following two successful seasons in the hotseat before taking charge at French side Marseille.

De Zerbi helped Brighton earn a first-ever European adventure with a sixth-placed finish in 2022-23, when they also reached the FA Cup semi-finals, and he led the Seagulls to the Europe League last 16 last season.

Hurzeler added: “Roberto De Zerbi had a huge impact on the football world with a different style of football. Of course I will take some elements (from him) but I have my own philosophy and you can’t copy anyone.

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Brighton chief executive Paul Barber says Fabian Hurzeler’s age of 31 became irrelevant as the interview process progressed.

“I like the football he played, it had a lot of courage with some interesting elements which I will also try and adapt to my philosophy.”

Brighton chairman Tony Bloom said the move to bring Hurzeler to the south-coast club was not a gamble despite his limited experience as a head coach.

Bloom said: “The whole city should be very excited.

“I wouldn’t talk about it as a gamble at all. We look at everything, we put a lot of effort into the appointment of any head coach like other clubs do and we think Fabian is the best fit for the football club. He’s the least risk option we had.”

Why Brighton have appointed Hurzeler

Fabian Hurzeler

It is probably not the first time you have seen his age mentioned and it definitely will not be the last. That is to be expected considering the seven-year gap between Hurzeler and the next-youngest manager in the league, Ipswich’s Kieran McKenna.

Hurzeler had never been in charge of a first-team side until he took the St Pauli job in December 2022. With only 18 months of management under his belt, he may look like a fledgling in the game, but his coaching exploits began in his early 20s before his retirement at 23.

Read William Bitibiri’s feature on Brighton’s new boss here.

‘One of the hottest German coaches’

St Pauli
Hurzeler guided St Pauli to promotion to the Bundesliga after winning last season’s Bundesliga 2 title

Sky Germany reporter Florian Plettenberg:

“Hurzeler was a former professional footballer and only started his managerial career a few years ago. I would say he’s one of the hottest coaches in German football. Many German clubs are interested in him as well.

“On their way to promotion, St Pauli played sensational football. Hurzeler is a good character and a good guy. He’s a bit like Julian Nagelsmann – they’re both very modern, very confident, very brave. Hurzeler loves to attack, he wants to have the ball. He’s not a defensive coach.

“I can understand why Brighton have kept an eye on Hurzeler. He is very ambitious and for sure, 31 years of age is very young, but he has nothing to lose.

“He has a great connection with the players, he’s a leading figure despite his age, and he was absolutely accepted around the club with the fans.

“For Hurzeler, he has to ask himself if it’s the right step for him right now, but from the way he manages the team and the way he wants to play football, he could be the perfect solution and a very brave solution for Brighton at this stage.”

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