Thomas Tuchel believes he would probably still be Borussia Dortmund coach if not for the bomb attack on the team coach last April.
Dortmund were travelling to a Champions League quarter-final tie against Monaco at Signal Iduna Park when their vehicle was damaged by three explosions.
Defender Marc Bartra was injured during the incident and underwent surgery on a broken wrist.
The match against Monaco was rescheduled for the following day, with the visitors claiming a 3-2 victory that they would duly close out with a 3-1 win in the return leg.
After the rearranged game, Tuchel claimed neither he nor his players had been consulted over playing 24 hours on from ordeal – something Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke denied.
Although Tuchel led Dortmund to DFB-Pokal glory with a 2-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt at the end of May, he stood down three days after that final triumph.
Speaking at the trial of the attacker – identified only as Sergej W in line with Germany privacy rules – on Monday, Tuchel was asked by chief prosecutor Carsten Dombert whether he would have remained as BVB boss had the events of April 11 not occurred.
“I would assume that,” the 44-year-old replied.
“Aki [Watzke] has already said publicly that there has been big dissent, which is true.
“The big dissent was that I was sitting on the bus and Aki was not. That’s why there was a different approach to dealing with it, without wanting to reproach Aki for that.”
2.1 – @TTuchelofficial had the best points per game ratio of all BVB coaches in the @bundesliga_de (2.1). Farewell. pic.twitter.com/0MBTMnyDa3
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) May 30, 2017
Tuchel, who has been heavily linked with taking charge of Bayern Munich next season, went on to explain he felt prepared to lead his team the day after but realised the squad were “in a state where they were unable to play” when they met at Dortmund’s training ground the following morning.
Asked whether the attack influenced his team’s performance, Tuchel added: “I am convinced of it. The magnitude and how much luck we had, the extent of it all. We only felt that the next morning.
“What the squad achieved [after the attack] was incredible and remarkable.”
Dortmund captain Marcel Schmelzer and veteran goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller also testified on Monday, along with Felix Passlack and Sven Bender – the latter duo now having left the club, along with Bartra.
“I try to push it away, but there are always moments when you think how lucky we were,” said Schmelzer, while Weidenfeller explained the after effects of the attack continue for some Dortmund players.
“This is still a topic in the team, I know players who are still suffering, it was an attack on life,” he said. “That changed my life. One is still affected, still terribly so.”
Bender described the decision to reschedule the Monaco game as a “mistake”.
“For me, the topic was quickly ticked off, which was a pity, so you did not talk about it that much,” he added.
Sergej W, who admitted carrying out the attack but denies any intent to kill, has been charged with 28 counts of attempted murder.
Prosecutors say the defendant sought to profit from an anticipated plunge in Dortmund’s share price after the bombing.