Rangnick Resigns at Schalke for Health Reasons

Ralf Rangnick resigned from his post at Schalke, citing burnout syndrome as the cause.  He is the second person in the Bundesliga going public about having burnout syndrome. The details, and a quick explanation of what burnout syndrome is.

A little bit more than two weeks earlier Hannover 96’s third choice keeper Markus Miller had released a statement saying that he was suffering from burnout syndrome. Miller told the press and the public through his club that he was going to seek professional help. Now Ralf Ranginick is the second person in the Bundesliga releasing a similar statement.

“After a long thought process I have come to the conclusion that I need a break. This has by no means been an easy decission. But, my current energy level is no where near high enough to be successful.”

Schalke’s sporting director Horst Heldt told the German media today that “This was shocking for me. I wouldn’t have expected anything like this to happen.” Heldt made clear that he still holds Rangnick in high esteem.

“He deserves our respect. We agree that matters of health should always take priority over professional aims.”


Schalke’s team physician Thorsten Larreck said on the press conference that Rangnick was suffering from sleep deprivation, being restless and a lack of appetite. Larreck’s conclusion:

“Ralf Rangnick has reached his physical limit. A Bayern coach once said ‘The bottle is empty'(Flasche leer)! This is really the case. It would have only been a question of time before he would have collapsed.”

What is burnout syndrome?

Burnout syndrome has been discussed a lot in recent weeks, but nobody really knows what it is. The German radio station FFN featured a radio interview with Prof. Dr. Marc Ziegenbein, a psychatrist from the MHH(The main hospital and a college for medicine in Hannover) in their afternoon broadcast. Here is the transcript of that interview:

Question: What is burnout syndrome?

Ziegenbein: Burnout is a state where the body is completely physically and mentally exhausted. Mostly it is the case that one has been under too much tension recently. To be precise, burnout syndrome can occur when a person has been under too much stress for a long period of time, and at the end the person can’t simply cope with the stress.

Question: How can I recognize burnout syndrome?

Ziegenbein: When it comes to work, burnout syndrome is recognizable when things that one usually can do without any problems are now too hard to solve. If one is constantly tired, and lacking energy, or is reluctant to solve a task that usually gives one pleasure and satisfaction — that is also a sign of the syndrome. It  changes a person.  For instance, people that tend to be laid back suddenly become easily aggravated, and they tend to be overworked by a workload they managed easily in the past. Those people often describe a feeling of being close to crying, and that feeling will only be growing stronger.

Question: Could everybody be affected by this?

Ziegenbein: It is mostly a combination of things. Usually it isn’t just work, but other factors in life also that will create a conflict situation that combines many things. There are a number of variables. Those who are very demanding of themselves, people who can’t differentiate between work and privacy, are perhaps more subject to the syndrome. If something doesn’t work out at work, those people might take it personally.

Question: Are there any risk groups for burnout?

Ziegenbein: There are a number of groups that do have burnout syndrome more often than the rest of the population, especially in care taking professions, like doctors and managers. The sort of people who have the same pressure as athletes. But, also teachers and people in administrative roles, people who have a very rigid every day life at work.

Question: How much has burnout syndrome increased in recent years?

Ziegenbein: It has increased drastically in recent years. If one takes into account the number of cases where people have to leave work, we have an increase of 140% in the last 10 years.

Question: What can one do to prevent falling victim to the burnout syndrome?

Ziegenbein: If the first symptoms occur, if everything is getting too much, one has to be able to say no. Don’t take your work home for instance. And then one should do things that one likes, everything ranging from sporting activities to other stuff. It is all about taking care of oneself.  Expand the time spend on those activities. If things tend to get too much, one doesn’t go to the doctor at first. But, if things continue to get to much, and you aren’t able to distance yourself, one should seek help.

Question: How do employers deal with those suffering from these conditions?

Ziegenbein: It is still stigmatized. It still is regarded as a sign of weakness But, fortunately there are many companies that try to create an atmosphere where coming back to work is made easier, companies that do understand why an individual’s situation has deteriorated enough that in which that individual reached that point of no longer being able to function well. Some companies will even try to find the mistakes they have made, and will try to find ways to avoid employees getting burnout syndrome.

Not alone

Neither Miller or Rangnick are alone. There are plenty of athletes in American sports who have had burnout syndrome. The most commonly known case so far in Germany is Sven Hannawald, the ski jumper who amazed everybody by winning all four races in the “Four Hill competition” in 2001/2002.

Everybody at the Bundesliga fanatic wishes Ralf Rangnick and Markus Miller a speedy recovery, and we hope to see them involved in Bundesliga matches as soon as possible.

Here is the FFN interviewed I have transcribed: Link.

Feel free to leave a comment below.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 32-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

3 Comments

  1. Funny you should mention bullets and explosives… Soldiers are much more likely to suffer from Burnout syndrome than the rest of the population. It is a serious condition, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. This sort of thing can seriously harm a human being, and the people around that person.

  2. Unless he has bullets flying at him and explosives going off around him – I say, “waaaaaaaaaaa.” Get a sleeping bag and a good coffee maker with good Tschibo coffee , and keep them close to the stadium.

  3. Really seems as if Rangnick should have stuck with the original plan of giving himself some time after leaving Hoffenheim before jumping right back in with Schalke. Wish him the best.

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