As the sun is about to set at the Thalikulam beach on this slightly overcast Saturday evening, a couple of hundred meters away at the Sitaram Beach Retreat, Thomas Tuchel begins to speak about his extraordinary career as a football manager.
He doesn’t try to hide his disappointment at being forced to part ways with Chelsea last month. Neither does he hide his pride in leading Chelsea to the UEFA Champions League title, as an underdog, last year.
“I loved every day at Chelsea,” says Tuchel. “It came to an end too early for me, but it was out of my hands. This is also what you sign up for.”
Looking back at Chelsea’s magnificent campaign in the Champions League, the 49-year-old German says the competition level was so high. “It was of such a level that you never expect to win it,” he says. “We played the role of an underdog. When I joined the club was placed ninth in the ( Premier) League, so even qualifying for the Champions League was an achievement.”
He recalls there were several challenges, including the Covid-19 pandemic. “There were many games that I was really happy with – the ones against Real Madrid (2-0), Atletico Madrid (2-0), Porto (2-0 and 1-0) and the final (1-0 against Manchester City),” says the man regarded as one of the best coaches in world football.
He had come to Chelsea after a two-year stint at Paris Saint-Germain, where he guided the club to two Ligue 1 titles.
So what’s next for him?
“I haven’t made a decision yet,” he says. “It is now time for me to take a break. Some clubs have been calling my manager but we agreed that he would not call me here for these past 18 days.”
Tuchel has been undergoing Ayurvedic rejuvenation therapy here since October 12.
“I was curious. One of my assistant coaches was here six years ago. He told me good things about this place. I have always been aware of the principles of Ayurveda. After a long period of coaching, there was a possibility of taking a break for me, so I came here. The experience has been fantastic. I feel energised and calm. I would recommend this to everybody who wants to discipline the body and the mind,” said Tuchel.
He may consider coaching a national team, but he doesn’t want to comment on the reports about him being interested about England.
Which are his top teams for the Word Cup?
“Brazil, France, Argentina, Germany and England,” he says. “Belgium and Senegal (could spring surprises). And don’t forget Spain. At the World Cup, I am looking forward to watching the players I trained.”