Valérien Ismaël

Valérien Ismaël

Ismaël with Nürnberg in 2014
Personal information
Date of birth (1975-09-28) 28 September 1975
Place of birth Strasbourg, France
Height 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)
Playing position Centre back
Club information
Current team
VfL Wolfsburg (manager)
Youth career
1982–1984 AS Holtzheim
1984–1992 Strasbourg
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1993–1998 Strasbourg 87 (1)
1998 Crystal Palace 13 (0)
1998–2002 Lens 83 (5)
2001Strasbourg (loan) 9 (0)
2002–2004 Strasbourg 26 (2)
2003–2004Werder Bremen (loan) 32 (4)
2004–2005 Werder Bremen 32 (4)
2005–2007 Bayern Munich 31 (0)
2006–2007 Bayern Munich II 7 (2)
2007–2009 Hannover 96 18 (0)
Total 338 (18)
Teams managed
2011–2013 Hannover 96 II
2013–2014 VfL Wolfsburg II
2014 1. FC Nürnberg
2015– VfL Wolfsburg II
2016– VfL Wolfsburg

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Valérien Ismaël (born 28 September 1975) is a retired French footballer who is the current manager of VfL Wolfsburg.[1]

Early years

Ismaël was born in 1975 to a Guadeloupean father[2] and an Alsatian mother[3] and grew up in Strasbourg, on the border with Germany. Ismaël's grandfather is German.[4]

Playing career



Ismaël made his debut for Strasbourg against AS Cannes on 15 January 1994. He went on to make 77 league appearances in his first spell with the club. Additionally he appeared in five UEFA Cup matches, scoring once.

Crystal Palace

Ismaël became the most expensive player in Crystal Palace history when he signed for £2,750,000, from Strasbourg in January 1998. Despite this he only played 13 games for the London club and was only there for ten months (January–October 1998), before moving back to his native France to Lens.


Ismaël moved to R.C. Lens in October 1998. Here he regained his form after his brief, and expensive, spell in England. He played 83 times, scoring five goals. He also had a short loan spell at his old club Strasbourg during the 2000–01 Division 1 season but could not help them avoid relegation. He did however play for Strasbourg in the 2001 Coupe de France Final in which they beat Amiens SC on penalties.[5] He returned to Lens for the 2001–02 Division 1 season where he was in particularly good form – playing 33 times and scoring on four occasions. However he was sold back to Strasbourg for the following season following their promotion back to the top tier.

Back to Strasbourg

On moving back to his former club for a third spell, Ismaël was appointed captain. He led the club to a respectable 13th position and attracted interest from Europe because of his composed performances in defence. In his last spell at Strasbourg he made 26 appearances and scored twice. He appeared for his home club a total of 167 times in all competitions and scored 7 goals.

Werder Bremen

Ismaël was loaned to Werder Bremen in 2003 where he appeared 32 times, scoring four goals. Bremen went on to win the German double in his first season at the club. He was sold to Werder prior to the following season, where once again he appeared 32 times, scoring four goals. However, Werder could only finish third. He made seven appearances in the UEFA Champions League as well, scoring twice.

Bayern Munich

Ismaël arrived at FC Bayern Munich in July 2005. He received a red card on his debut for the club, but finished the season winning the German league and cup double for the second time in his career. However, he only featured once in the 2006–07 campaign for the club due to his long term injury and was eventually released to join Hannover 96 in January 2008.[6] He made 31 league appearances for Bayern without scoring and eight Champions league appearances, scoring once against A.C. Milan in a 4–1 loss.

Hannover 96

Ismaël was brought to the club in order to strengthen the struggling defence and to provide leadership for his new team-mates.[7] His first game for Hannover was against his last club, Bayern. Ismaël played well for 45 minutes and helped his team maintain a 0–0; after he was substituted with a minor injury, Hannover conceded three goals in the second half.[8] After overcoming the injury, he became a key player for the team. Due to further injuries and a bad prognosis for recovery he retired on 5 October 2009. In total he made 18 appearances for Hannover.


Ismaël had appearances for all French youth national teams. When he was not called up to the French senior national team, he wanted to play for Germany.[9] However, he was rejected by the German Football Association (DFB) because there was not enough connection to Germany. Answering questions of the German sports magazine "kicker" Ismael said the report that was published by the German tabloid Bild, the following: "That's not quite true. I am French, and I still hope for my chance to play for France. I'm feeling fine in Germany, but I do not want to volunteer. Only if Klinsmann wants me, then we would have to talk about it."[10] If the former German coach Jürgen Klinsmann was interested in him, Ismaël wanted check his ancestry.[9] Gernot Rohr, an expert of French football, explained the permanent non-consideration of Ismaël as follows: "Although Valérien was a U-21 international, he was never associated with the Equipe Tricolore. Of course Valérien one of the above-average center-backs, but he was never so striking that he could compete with the placeholders for the national team."[11] Rohr accounted afterwards: "Ismaël has failed due to some powerful competitors." Ismaël saw it differently: "There used to be big names, okay. But today, I am no worse than those who are there." After Ismaël offered his services in October 2005 again to the German national team, he received again a rejection.[12] Later in March 2006, the German Football Association announced that Ismaël was not eligible to play for Germany because he had played a U-21 European Championship qualifier for France in August 1996. According to FIFA rules, he would have needed German citizenship already back in 1996 to switch now.[4]

It was reported that Togo also wanted to call up Ismaël to their squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, given his former wife is partially Togolese descent,[13] but the player denied the approach and interest in the offer.[14]

Coaching career

Hannover 96 II

On 10 October 2009, Ismaël was named as assistant general manager by Hannover 96. From 24 June 2010 he was also board member of the club.[15] In January 2012, he took over the job of manager of the second team, Hannover 96 II.


Ismaël became the new head coach of 1. FC Nürnberg on 5 June 2014[16] and won his first match in charge against Erzgebirge Aue 1–0 on 3 August 2014.[17] He was sacked on 10 November 2014;[18] three days after a 2–1 loss to SV Sandhausen.[19]

Wolfsburg II

He returned to VfL Wolfsburg II on 1 June 2015.[20]

Personal life

Ismaël is married to his German wife Karolina. He has a son (born 1995) from his first marriage. On 25 April 2013, Ismaël received the German citizenship.[21]

Managerial statistics

As of 3 December 2016
Team From To Record
G W D L Win % Ref.
Hannover II 28 November 2011[22] 30 June 2013[22] 45 22 10 13 48.89 [23]
Wolfsburg II 1 July 2013[25] 5 June 2014[16] 36 23 6 7 63.89 [26]
Nürnberg 5 June 2014[16] 10 November 2014[18] 14 4 2 8 28.57 [27]
Wolfsburg 17 October 2016 Present 7 2 1 4 28.57
Total 102 51 19 32 50.00



  1. "Wolfsburg macht Valérien Ismaël zum Chef". n-tv (in German). 6 November 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  2. Bremer, Sven (23 February 2005). "Deutscher mit Akzent". Berliner Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  3. "Valerien Ismael bekommt die Freigabe für den Club". (in German). Nürnberger Nachrichten/Nürnberger Zeitung/Verlag Nürnberger Presse Druckhaus Nurnberg GmbH & Co. KG. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  4. 1 2 Greitner, O.; Traemann, K.; Seidel, F. (3 March 2006). "Ismael: Er sollte für Deutschland spielen". (in German). Axel Springer Verlag. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  5. "Strasbourg 0-0 Amiens". 26 May 2001. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  6. "Valerien Ismael set for Hannover switch". 5 December 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  7. "Auf Ismael ruht die Hoffnung" [Hopes are pinned on Ismael] (in German). 17 December 2007. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
  8. "Luca Toni weltmeisterlich" (in German). 17 February 2008. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
  9. 1 2 "Ismael wird nicht für Deutschland spielen" (in German). Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 30 August 2005. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  10. Salamon, Bernd (30 August 2005). "Ismael: Weiter für Frankreich". kicker online (in German). Olympia Verlag GmbH. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  11. Salamon, Bernd (5 September 2005). "Ismael: Die unerfüllte Liebe". kicker online (in German). Olympia Verlag GmbH. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  12. "Klinsmann erteilt Ismael eine Absage". Welt Online (in German). Axel Springer Verlag. 12 October 2005. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  13. "Togo want Ismael". BBC Sport. 2 December 2005. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  14. "Frenchman denies Togo approach". BBC Sport. 4 December 2005. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  15. "Ismaël neuer Sportmanager, Moravek neuer Zehner von Hannover 96" (in German). 24 June 2010.
  16. 1 2 3 "FCN bestätigt Ismaël als neuen Trainer" (in German). Süddeutsche Zeitung. 5 June 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  17. "Aufsteiger Heidenheim erobert gleich die Spitze" (in German). Die Welt. 3 August 2014. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  18. 1 2 "Nürnberg stellt Ismael frei" (in German). kicker. 10 November 2014. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  19. "Wooten hievt den SVS am Club vorbei" (in German). kicker. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  20. "Ismael kehrt zur Wolfsburger U 23 zurück". (in German). 1 June 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  21. ""Bier, Fußball, Currywurst": Valerién Ismaël liebt Stammtischkultur". Neue Presse (in German). Verlagsgesellschaft Madsack GmbH & Co. KG. 25 April 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2014.
  22. 1 2 "Hannover 96 II » Trainerhistorie". World Football. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  23. "Hannover 96 II » Dates & results 2011/2012". World Football. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  24. "Hannover 96 II » Dates & results 2012/2013". World Football. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  25. "VfL Wolfsburg II » Trainerhistorie". World Football. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  26. "VfL Wolfsburg II » Dates & results 2013/2014". World Football. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  27. "1. FC Nürnberg" (in German). kicker. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
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