Introducing Loïc Swartzendruber, GCZ's new manager

Last week I wrote about how you should consider spending time on setting up your manager's in game attributes, ensuring you invest in the right places to suit your save. This week's blog is more roleplay orientated: spending a great deal of time introducing you to Loïc Swartzendruber, Grasshopper Club Zürich's new manager for FM16.

Early life

Loïc Swartzendruber was born on 02 March 1976 in Lucerne, Switzerland, to  Gerhard and Hélène Swartzendruber. Loïc is the first son of their three children and has German and French ancestry due to his parents being born outside of Switzerland. According to his father, Loïc was introduced to football at an early age and was taken to his father's favoured team: SC Freiburg.

Lucerne: Loïc Swartzendruber's hometown


Playing Career

Swartzendruber was a product of the Fussball-Club Luzern youth system and showed great potential in his formative years. Originally playing as a Centre Forward, Swartzendruber broke several youth team records for goals scored in a season [39] at the age of 14. Although only appearing 5 times in the First Team [3 starts and 2 subs]. Swartzendruber caught the eye of AS Monaco, then managed by Arsene Wenger, and decided to leave Stadion Allmend at the age of 16 in 1992.

AS Monaco was home to Swartzendruber during his teenage years

Wenger saw a genuine talent in Swartzendruber and moved him deeper into an attacking midfielder role. After spending the 1992/93 season in Monaco's development squad, Swartzendruber made his first start for Monaco in a 2-1 win against Martigues in December 1993. His first goal came against Auxerre from a free kick, a game in which Monaco won 5-0. Swartzendruber finished the season with 5 goals, playing with world class talents such as Jürgen Klinsmann and Youri Djorkaeff. A poor start to the 1994–95 season meant Wenger was dismissed on 17 September 1994, with the team in 17th spot in the table.

The next two years saw great turmoil at the club, with AS Monaco appointing 4 managers in a two year period. Swartzendruber's form and playing time deteriorated as a result. A good start to the 1995/96 season under Jean Tigana's tutelage saw Swartzendruber score 2 in the first 4 games of the season, before he broke his ankle in two places. As a result of the horror challenge on Swartzendruber, Auxere's Antoine Sibierski received a 5 match suspension.

The 10 month recovery time scuppered any chances of a widely tipped Euro 96 Swiss National team call up for Swartzendruber, who was widely regarded as Switzerland's brightest talent. At the age of 20 years old, Loïc Swartzendruber faced his biggest challenge in football.

For the 1996/97 season, Swartzendruber was loaned to French 2nd Division side
Red Star F.C in Paris. Struggling for fitness, Swartzendruber made 10 starts but neither AS Monaco and Red Star would pursue a contract beyond the 1996/97 season.

In the Autumn of 1997, Swartzendruber moved to MLS Cup holders D.C United to play in the 2nd season of the newly launched Major League Soccer. Working with upcoming US coach, Bruce Arena, Swartzendruber played a pivtol  role in helping D.C. United maintain an early lead in the Eastern Conference with 6 goals before December. However, an x-ray after a match against Columbus Crew highlighted critical damage in the troublesome ankle. Swartzendruber underwent surgery in Washington, US and would be out for the remainder of the season.  D.C United decided not to renew their 1 year contract.

Loïc Swartzendruber (now 22) spent the whole of 1998 recuperating in his native Switerzland, before signing an 18 month deal with his hometown Fussball-Club Luzern. During this time, Swartzendruber played mostly as a shadow striker and contributed 10 goals over 20 games. Despite a restricted training regime due to the troublesome ankle, German cub SSV Ulm 1846 (then playing in 2. Bundlesiga) announced the free transfer in July 2000. Despite being relegated in his first season, Loïc Swartzendruber became a fan favourite with his flair and technique. At 25 years old, playing in German's Regionalliga (then 3rd tier) Swartzendruber broke his ankle for the third time and was told to quit professional football.

The scan released by SSV Ulm 1846 of Swartzendruber's 3rd ankle injury in 2000


1991/92 Fussball-Club Luzern 5 apps, 0 goals

1992/93 AS Monaco 0 apps, 0 goals

1993/94 AS Monaco 22 apps, 5 goals

1994/95 AS Monaco 9 apps, 1 goals

1995/96 AS Monaco 4 apps, 2 goals

1996/97 Red Star FC 10 apps, 4 goals

1997/98 D.C. United 10 apps, 7 goals

1998/99 Fussball-Club Luzern 4 apps, 2 goals

1999/2000 Fussball-Club Luzern 16 apps, 8 goals

2000/2001 SSV Ulm 1846 12 apps, 4 goals

2001/2002 SSV Ulm 1846 16 apps, 10 goals

All time record: 108 apps, 43 goals

Post-playing career

After retiring in 2002 Swartzendruber took three years out from football. During this time he completed an Economics degree at the Institut d'études politiques in Rennes, France. In 2005 Swartzendruber was appointed as a youth technical coach at Arsenal FC in London. This reunited Swartzendruber with Arsene Wenger, who had worked together over a decade earlier at AS Monaco. Speaking about his appointment in 2005, Swartzendruber said:

"I spoke to my ex-agent who gave me Arsene's private number. I kept that number in my wallet for 2 weeks before calling. Would he remember me? Would he care?
He invited me to London Colney straight away and was keen to discuss football, both philosophy and tactics. He had followed my progress across America and Germany. I was amazed and humbled.
Wenger said I had disappointments that other players will never have. This is not a weakness but a strength in management"

London Colney - Arsenal's training centre where Loïc Swartzendruber has honed his coaching skills

During his contract with Arsenal, Swartzendruber is credited to have helped local English talents breaking into the First Team, such as Jack WIlshere and Kieran Gibbs. In 2014 Swartzendruber successfully completed his UEFA Pro Licence, allowing him to manage a the top level of a nation's league system on a permanent basis. On July 01 2015 Loïc Swartzendruber, aged 39, was appointed manager of Grasshopper Club Zürich, Switzerland. 

Quotes on Swartzendruber

"Despite his debilitating ankle injury, Swartzendruber is the perfect No.10. A pleasure to watch for both fans and coaches" Bruce Arena 1997
"He was very much in my plans for Euro 96. I spoke with him at length after his injury and we always hoped he would come back to play consistently" Roy Hodgson 1998
"Loïc Swartzendruber was the most technically gifted teenager of his generation. I have no doubt he would have gone on to become a world class attacker" - Arsene Wenger 2005
"There is no doubt in my mind that Loïc Swartzendruber will make a great insightful Football Manager. Even at 16/17 he was telling us where to run and what to do in games" Jürgen Klinsmann 2015