Philadelphia Union Name Ernst Tanner as Club’s New Sporting Director
Tanner joins Union following 24 years of experience in Germany and Austria with TSV 1860 Munich, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Red Bull Salzburg;
Press conference to introduce Tanner to be held at Talen Energy Stadium’s TruMark Financial Club today at 12:00 p.m. ET
CHESTER, Pa. (August 9, 2018) – Philadelphia Union announced today the hiring of Ernst Tanner as the club’s Sporting Director. Tanner, 51, is a native of Traunstein, Germany and comes to Philadelphia following 24 years of technical experience with three European clubs: TSV 1860 Munich, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Red Bull Salzburg. As the Union’s Sporting Director, Tanner will oversee and guide all Union technical and soccer-related decisions, working closely with the Union First Team, Bethlehem Steel FC and the Union Academy. He will start with the Union in mid-to-late September, following the completion of his duties with RB Salzburg as well as the finalization of the immigration process.
Tanner is well respected in the sport for his development, methodology, scouting and talent identification expertise, having played a key role in the discovery and/or development of some of the top professional talent playing in Europe today, including: Roberto Firmino, Kevin Volland, Sven Bender, Lars Bender, Niklas Süle, Sebastian Rudy, David Alaba, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Duje Caleta-Car and Sadio Mane. His background includes time with the progressive Bundesliga club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, known as one of the best academies in Germany, and more recently over the past six years, the oversight of the highly successful and innovative Red Bull Salzburg academy, which captured the prestigious UEFA Youth League championship in 2016-17.
“We are pleased to announce that Ernst Tanner will be the second Sporting Director in Philadelphia Union history,” said Philadelphia Union Chairman/Owner Jay Sugarman. “Ernst comes to Philadelphia with a strong track record of methodology implementation as well as player development and recruitment. He has worked for successful clubs at the highest level in Europe, signing and nurturing premier level talent at every stop. Coupled with his impressive worldwide soccer network and scouting acumen, we believe that Ernst is the perfect leader to continue building and improving upon the promising foundation we have established.”
“I have followed the Union since the early days of the club, and over the past three seasons, there have obviously been many productive changes in terms of methodology and player development,” said Tanner. “I’m looking forward to utilizing my almost 25 years of experience and global player recruitment abilities to continue and forward the club’s trajectory. I also look forward to generating new ideas to advance the Union to even greater heights.”
Tanner most recently worked as the Academy and Youth Football Head at RB Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga, a position he has held since 2012. Over his six seasons with Salzburg, the club’s First Team won the Austrian Bundesliga five times, in each of the last five years, finishing as runners-up in his first season (2012-13).
Playing European football each of those six seasons, RB Salzburg most recently advanced to the Semifinals of the 2017-18 UEFA Europa League. The team also won the Austrian Cup four times during Tanner’s tenure, and has seen high-level talent such as Sadio Mane, Duje Caleta-Car and Naby Keita as key members of the Salzburg First Team while he was with the club.
Indicative of Tanner’s strong track record of development, the club has also seen success in the UEFA Youth League, including a tournament victory in 2016-17, where the club’s academy eliminated Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Benfica en route to lifting the title. Last season, RB Salzburg reached the Round of 16 in the competition. Over the UEFA Youth League’s five-year existence, the tournament has been won by only two other clubs: Chelsea and Barcelona.
Prior to his successful tenure in Salzburg, Tanner was with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in the German Bundesliga for three seasons, holding positions varying from Academy Director (2009-10) to Sporting Director (2010-12). Playing topflight German soccer over those three seasons, Tanner was with the team as it established itself as a perennial first-tier club. Among Tanner’s most notable successes include the scouting and signing of current Liverpool star Roberto Firmino from Brazilian second-division side Figueirense.
While with Hoffenheim, Tanner developed, acquired or sold many recognizable players. German internationals Sebastian Rudy, Kevin Volland and Niklas Süle all signed with Hoffenheim between 2010-12, joined by Iceland international Gylfi Sigurdsson (2010) and U.S. international Fabian Johnson (2011). Additionally, he brought in Bayern Munich defender and Austrian international David Alaba on loan in 2011, and sold Luiz Gustavo to Bayern for a large profit in 2011. Firmino, Volland, Süle would also be sold at a profit following Tanner’s time with the club.
Additionally, in 2010-11, Tanner brought Julian Nagelsmann to Hoffenheim to be the club’s U-17 coach. In the years following, Nagelsmann ascended to become Hoffenheim’s first team manager at age 28 in 2016, the youngest-ever head coach in German Bundesliga history. Set to join RB Leipzig in 2019-20, Nagelsmann is regarded as one of the brightest young soccer coaches in the world.
Tanner’s first managerial job in soccer came at TSV 1860 Munich, where he worked from 1994-09. He began as a coach in 1994 and progressed to the Sporting Head of Academy in 1996 ahead of becoming the Academy Director in 1999. Over that span, he helped develop many internationally known players that have emerged from the club’s youth setup, including Volland, Johnson, Sven Bender, Lars Bender, Florian Jungwirth and Bobby Wood.