At 1. FC Heidenheim there is collective ecstasy after the first promotion to the Bundesliga. It couldn’t have been more dramatic, but the greatest success in the club’s history is no longer a complete surprise.
Holger Sanwald felt like in a “fairy tale”. At 1. FC Heidenheim and its CEO, collective ecstasy reigned after the dramatic first promotion to the Bundesliga.
“Unbreakable” is this team, said coach Frank Schmidt after the furious season finale. “Pure faith” led them to victory in the end, explained match winner and top scorer Tim Kleindienst. After nine years in the second division, the Ostalb Club will be playing at the top from the summer. Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund – the big ones come to the small Heidenheim. For the captain of the Swabians, Patrick Mainka, it’s all “incomprehensible”.
It was also hard to believe how Heidenheim came back in the final game at SSV Jahn Regensburg. After being 2-0 down, it looked as if they would have to let Hamburger SV pass them in the table and, like three years ago, start the process of relegation. At that time they had failed at Werder Bremen. But this time the FCH saved themselves the nerve-wracking knockout games. Thanks to a sensational comeback and two goals in injury time, the Schmidt team still won 3-2 in Regensburg, pushed HSV back out of the direct promotion ranks and also secured the title as second division champion.
Promotion party in Heidenheim
Not only the game itself, but also the scenes afterwards were “madness”, said midfielder Jan-Niklas Beste. First there was celebration on the Regensburg lawn, then coach Schmidt was showered with beer by his players at the press conference. When he got back to his home stadium in Heidenheim just before midnight, the FCH entourage was greeted by cheering fans and moved on to the city for more celebrations. On Monday afternoon, the official promotion party takes place in the arena – including the handover of the second division championship trophy and an entry in the city’s golden book.
The first promotion to the Bundesliga is the greatest success in Heidenheim’s club history, but it’s no longer a complete surprise. For the fifth time in a row, the Swabians ended a season with more than 50 points. The club from the town on the Brenz with around 50,000 inhabitants had long since established itself in the top third of the league – also financially. The budget for this season was almost 40 million euros, and it will probably increase to around 55 million for the coming season.
Sanwald and Schmidt as guarantors of success
The success story is particularly closely linked to the names Sanwald and Schmidt. Continuity is the big trump card on the Ostalb. As early as 1994, Sanwald was hired by Heidenheimer SB, which the footballers still belonged to at the time. Schmidt was an active player for HSB before the footballers split off as a legally independent club in 2007 under the name 1. FC Heidenheim. After the end of his career, he took over the coaching position in the same year, first temporarily and then permanently. 16 years later he is still sitting on the Heidenheim bench. Together, the duo has managed to keep up with the loss of top performers and realign the team.
Schmidt does not want the monument that Sanwald thinks he should have. There might be peeing against it at some point, he said after the ascent. It suits the 49-year-old that he takes his focus off the moment of his greatest success. “The team shouldn’t climb up with me, I want to climb up with the team,” he recently told his players. The dream came true.
I am Pierce Boyd, a driven and ambitious professional working in the news industry. I have been writing for 24 Hours Worlds for over five years, specializing in sports section coverage. During my tenure at the publication, I have built an impressive portfolio of articles that has earned me a reputation as an experienced journalist and content creator.