Pros 31.08.2022 — 16:19 Uhr

A memorable brace during a special time in Mainz

Sami Allagui talks to us about a memorable win over Gladbach, his time at Mainz, and what Thomas Tuchel, Bo Svensson and Jürgen Klopp all have in common.

Celebrating the incredible win over Gladbach back in 2010

Mainz have so far played 16 away games at Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga. Of these 16 matches, the Zerofivers have won three, lost eight and there have been five draws. Mainz’s last win at BORUSSIA-PARK came in February 2021, and it proved to be a crucial three points in that season’s sensational great escape. Before that, however, you have to go all the way back to 20th November 2010 to find the next Mainz win at the home of the Foals. Mainz came away 3-2 winners after a thrilling encounter, full of drama.


One of the heroes that day was Sami Allagui. The striker was brought onto the field in the 75th minute and he scored a crucial goal to level the scores at 2-2 just 60 seconds later. He then scored an unforgettable header in the 88th minute to give his side all three points.


Tuchel’s plan comes to fruition 


Like many strikers, the 36-year-old can remember his Bundesliga goals in lots of detail. “I remember it very fondly,” said Allagui. “I was brought onto the field with 15 minutes left and we were 2-1 down. Thomas Tuchel gave me clear instructions and said ‘listen, I want you to keep making the run in the space between the centre-back and the full-back.’ I did that twice. The first time, Christian Fuchs found me with an excellent ball from the left and I volleyed it into the far corner with my first touch. It was exactly how Tuchel had predicted it. It was also Fuchs who played me in the second time. I ran from my own half, again in-between the full-back and the centre-back, and the ball came in over the top. I took it well, lifted it over the keeper and I jumped early and headed it into the goal. I remember being worried because there were two defenders who could’ve taken the ball off me. After the goal the game was over.”


This is how Kicker described the two goals at the time: “Gladbach lost possession when trying to counter attack and the ball came to Fuchs. Fuchs crossed to the back post, and Allagui volleyed it home. Then came the killer blow. Allgaui made the run inbetween Daems and Schachten, controlled the long ball beautifully, dinked it over the keeper and headed in the winning goal.”


“I wasn’t planning on playing because I injured myself two weeks earlier against Hoffenheim. But I took part in the final training session and Thomas got me involved. He said my finishing ability could be useful,” said Allagui. 


He said my finishing ability could be useful


Tuchel had to make several changes to the side due to injuries. Bo Svensson was one of the players who missed out due to a knee injury. Malik Fathi had to be subbed off during the game due to a suspected concussion and goalkeeper Christian Wetklo also went off after twisting his ankle. 38-year-old Martin Pieckenhagen, who signed as a back-up goalkeeper in the summer, came onto the field to make his first and only appearance for the Zerofivers. “I remember when Wetti went off and Piecke took what felt like 15 minutes to get ready,” recalls Allagui. “I said to him: ‘Come on! We need you!’ And he replied: ‘The game won’t restart without me so I might as well take my time. Legend.”


“Everyday back then was special”


Allagui also got his chance when Marcel Risse went off the field due to injury and he scored the equaliser just 60 seconds later.


It was one of Mainz’s 18 wins that season and they made their best ever start to a Bundesliga campaign. “We won the first seven games and we were top of the table. We ended up qualifying for the Europa League,” said the match winner, who scored 16 goals in 66 Bundesliga appearances for FSV. He also scored 10 goals in 42 top flight appearances for Hertha BSC and 44 goals in 159 2. Bundesliga matches.


What made this time in Mainz so special for Allagui? “I’ll describe it like this,” he said. “Everyday back then was special. We had a great team full of characters and we had lots of fun both on and off the pitch. Thomas Tuchel also challenged us a lot and he developed us. The chemistry was just right. There was no difference between the younger and older players and we were all really close. I think it’s the same kind of thing at Mainz today. You go to the Bruchweg and you don’t even realise how quickly time flies by. For me, Tuchel was the best coach I ever had. I never had any problems with him. Whenever he had a go at you, he was right and you had to accept it.”

Thomas Tuchel - “the best coach I [Allagui] ever had”

Allagui also sees a clear parallel between Tuchel and his former teammate, Bo Svensson: “Bo has been shaped by Thomas. I also don’t think he had a better coach in his career. You can see that in the way he goes about things and the way his team plays. He has brought the energy back to the club, the kind of energy that we saw under Tuchel and under Jürgen Klopp. You can see it in the way Mainz ticks, the way Mainz plays football and in the nature of the club. I don’t even believe that Pep Guardiola, arguably the best coach in the world, would have as much success at Mainz as our guys, as Thomas, Kloppo and Bo. They are Mainz 05 through and through.”


I don’t even believe that Pep Guardiola, arguably the best coach in the world, would have as much success at Mainz as our guys, as Thomas, Kloppo and Bo. They are Mainz 05 through and through

Getting a taste of life after playing at Hertha


Sami Allagui has lived in Berlin since leaving Mainz and has since got married and had two children. The 36-year-old feels at home in the capital and is currently gaining experience in different departments at Hertha BSC. “I only hung up my boots a year and a half ago and I didn’t want to rush into anything. I want to do my rounds and find out how a club actually works so I can say: ‘I’ll go here, or I’ll go here.’ I also spent a few months with the U23s coaching team and I realised that I didn’t want to become a coach. I am currently making my impressions and I’ll see what happens over time.”


Allagui is also all too aware of the fact that he will always have a place in Mainz that he can call home: “I’m always happy to be here and I still speak to several people from the club. The other day I spoke to Kuhni on the phone. When I’m in the area it is nice to drop by, have a coffee and do some reminiscing.”


The other day I spoke to Kuhni on the phone


Allagui believes that Mainz have every chance of beating Gladbach on Sunday, just as they did back in 2010. “Sure, Gladbach are on a high after getting a point in Munich, but rain can sometimes follow sunshine. I’m sure Bo will have a plan that he is going through this week. If the plan works then I back them to do the job. I send all my best wishes to everyone in Mainz.”