On the last second division matchday, it is decided whether Hamburger SV or FC Heidenheim make it into the relegation against Werder Bremen. The clubs couldn’t be more different – that’s also down to the coaches.
If HSV has to run against Sandhausen at 3:30 p.m. (in the live ticker at t-online.de), the remote duel against FC Heidenheim is about relegation for the Bundesliga. An exciting starting point because the club from Baden-Württemberg’s Ostalb has to prove itself to second division champions Arminia Bielefeld. It is already a sensation that it has come to this at all, because: The club structures at HSV and FCH could not be more different.
While Hamburger SV had beaten 20 coaches since September 2007, Frank Schmidt is still on the sidelines in Heidenheim. The 46-year-old born there has led the club from the national league to the top group in the second division. Players like Unions Robert Andrich and Augsburg’s Florian Niederlechner made it into the Bundesliga after the station at the club from the Ostalb and thanks to coach Schmidt.
“Not only perceived as a football player, but also as a human being”
“He has an honest way of dealing with me. He has made me a better player,” Niederlechner told t-online.de. He adds: “Heidenheim works continuously, everyone pulls together.”
Schmidt appears modest. The head coach does not like to be the center of attention and shields his team and the players as much as possible so that they can concentrate on football. “You are not only perceived as a football player, but also as a person,” says Holger Sanwald to t-online.de. The chairman of the board helped to build the club himself. He and Schmidt are just as much a team as the team on the pitch. Cohesion is important in Heidenheim.
“The boys know that it is worth getting involved in this club,” says Sanwald. “When players come to us, they know that Frank is in charge.” The Swabian has already played 466 games as a trainer. The trainer sometimes replaces his level-headed manner on the field with emotions.
Ex-kickers of the club, like Bundesliga player Florian Niederlechner, still appreciate this: “He is ambitious, honest and nice. But he can also be a tough dog. He knows how to approach players and is an outstanding person . ” Schmidt recently went to Niederlechner in Augsburg, the two met for a meal and are still exchanging tips.
Clear instructions: Frank Schmidt and Florian Niederlechner in 2014 on the sidelines. (Source: Eibner / imago images)
“Professional but also friendly relationship”
Even if Sanwald is certain that an “opponent” is lurking in the long-distance duel with HSV, “whose footballing quality is different”, Heidenheim convinces rather with “commitment and mentality”. Schmidt is also ideal because he has a kind of player trainer on the pitch in Marc Schnatterer that he knows well.
The club legend has also been with the club for over ten years and says to t-online.de: “We have a professional but also friendly relationship. It has developed over the years. Honesty and trust are the absolute basis.” “Schnatti”, as he is only called by the fans, is just like Schmidt down-to-earth and close to home. The winger could have switched to other clubs and instead decided to build something on the Ostalb.
Friendship: Trainer Frank Schmidt and captain Marc Schnatterer have known each other for years. (Source: Sportfoto Rudel / imago images)
“Happy if he made it to the first division”
If Heidenheim made it into the relegation, that would be “the greatest thing we have ever achieved,” said Sanwald. A possible relegation would have given the “small” club chances for the Bundesliga for the first time. Also and especially thanks to trainer Schmidt.
Augsburg professional Niederlechner believes in the sensation: “Let’s hope that they make it into the first division.” With a view to Schmidt, he adds: “If he shouldn’t make it into the first division with Heidenheim, I would also be happy for him if he would eventually make it into the first division.”