My Team & I: Hoffenheim


By Saurabh Ananth


Twitter: @TheHoffside

Why Hoffenheim?

Becoming a Hoffenheim fan was quite the process. When starting to follow a new league most people make an impulse decision on who to follow. But for me the Bundesliga was a casual interest that had started in the 90s through FIFA Futbol Mundial and a few highlights shows. That interest did end up fading as I got more and more into Arsenal, who were the first club I supported as a child. The spark for the Bundesliga came back after the 2006 World Cup but I never committed myself to a certain team.

I used to follow a bunch of teams quite casually. Teams like Bayern, Werder Bremen, Hertha Berlin were at the top of the list at the start. The list did have others and would later include Hoffenheim during their great debut season in the Bundesliga. I really admired Hoffe’s playing style and while it definitely wasn’t anything new, the way they caused a stir appealed to me. Oddly enough instead of a player, it was a manager that drew me to the club. I instantly liked Ralf Rangnick and what he was doing at Hoffenheim really was something else.

The Sinsheim club quickly made its way up my list of favourite Bundesliga clubs but I wouldn’t call myself a true fan until the turn of the year when I wanted to get into blogging. After several failed attempts at starting my own blog I ended up looking through the Bundesliga clubs that The Offside needed writers for. When I saw Hoffenheim open I immediately applied for it and within the week I was writing for The Hoffside.

Getting so involved in the everyday goings on of the club truly made me fall in love with Hoffe and getting to know some of the fans on a more personal basis definitely helped too. I found that Hoffenheim fans are so much more laid back than what I was used to as an Arsenal fan. In fact while I was calling for coach, Marco Pezzaiouli’s head just weeks into his unsuccessful reign, the rest of the fanbase was quite relaxed and were ready to give him a chance. That change of attitude was very refreshing. I still get worked up once in a while but it’s really nice to just sit back and enjoy my football. There’s no doubt I’ve added a decade or two on my life by becoming a Hoffenheim fan.

Favourite Player?

Players have come and gone but the steady trio have been Vedad Ibisevic, Sejad Salihovic and captain Andreas Beck. Then there’s more well known names like Ryan Babel and Gylfi Sigurdsson. Or 20 year old Brazilian, Roberto Firmino, who has shaken up the league and is joint top scorer at the club at this point in the season. They’re all viable favourites and I’m sure if you were to start watching Hoffenheim after this you’d love them all.

There’s also former players, Luiz Gustavo, Carlos Eduardo and Demba Ba were huge parts of the team’s promotion and initial success and you’ll only find me saying good things about the first two.


However, my favourite player is our goalkeeper, Tom Starke. Or Tom Strong as I call him. He’s single handedly won us points and during a tough spell last season he probably kept the club from being dragged into a relegation battle. This is only his second season at the club but the 30 year old has definitely shown he can be a long term solution. As long as he’s in between the sticks there’s little worry. Sometimes he makes even the most impossible fingertip saves look routine.


Favourite Game?

It might definitely seem like a confusing decision but our opening match of the current season against Hannover is my favourite match. We lost the game 2-1, yes. The three goals came from two penalties and a cheeky quick freekick, sure. But what it did was announce a new era in Hoffenheim’s progression under Holger Stanislawski.

It wasn’t the scoreline in the end but the performance from Hoffenheim that made that match great. It was the arrival of one of the most ambitious tactics we’ve seen this season. During the summer, the club had made small money signings and it looked like we wouldn’t be able to compete but, in the end it was brilliant management by Stanislawski. The interchangeable front line and the constant rotation ended up in a jawdropping attacking display that has carried on from that first game.

Though the club has definitely had it’s fair share of unforgettable matches. The 5-1 victory against HSV at the end of the 2009/10 season or the 4-1 comeback against Werder on the opening matchday of the 2010/11 season will bring back good memories.

Favourite Kit?

I loved the first Hoffenheim kit I saw with the dark blue collar. The home kit from the last two seasons have seemed incomplete because of that. This year’s kit also features a little dark blue and comes close to being my favourite Hoffenheim kit if it wasn’t for the sponsor. Something that sadly ruins so many great kits. So my favourite has to be the 2008/09 kit which was clean and worked really well.

Worst thing about being a Hoffenheim fan?

German football is so heavily focused on tradition that having a team like Hoffenheim come up the way they did drew very bad attention from fans of other clubs. Sometimes the club and chairman, Dietmar Hopp get serious stick from opposing fans. There were even a few instances in the 2nd division where Hopp had to leave the stadium for his own safety. And even though I wasn’t following Hoffenheim at the time, it must have been a difficult period to go through for people who did follow them back then. For me, I have been on the end of some flak for this and I’ve even amusingly been added to a list on Twitter called “Enemies of Football”. Luckily trash talk goes both ways!

Fortunately, the club has slowly begun to shift towards a more traditionally run football club. Their youth policy, which has resulted in Hoffenheim having the youngest squad in the league and fight towards financial independence has definitely helped their profile in the last year or so.

Funniest Moment?

Gylfi Sigurdsson’s attempt to replicate Ian Wright after his goal against Leverkusen last season hilariously ruined a brilliant run and finish.

Favourite Moment?

One of my favourite moments has to be Ryan Babel #FFing me on Twitter a couple of months ago. For more regular favourite moments there’s also the biannual Dortmund beatings to enjoy. 


Leave a Reply