It’s the story of an obscure local amateur side that, 20 years ago, were at the bottom rung of German football. The story of a local lad done good that returned to the side he played for in his youth and put his money where his mouth is. It’s the story of the fastest rising side in Europe. It’s the story of 1899 Hoffenheim.
Founded on the first day of 1899, over the next 111 years Hoffenheim made a steady if unspectacular ascent to the fifth tier of German football. Dann kehrte im Jahr 2000 der ehemalige Spieler und Software-Magnat Dietmar Hopp zur Mannschaft seiner Jugend zurück und gestaltete den Verein um. The billionaire ploughed his own funds into making this team from the countryside a force in German football through sustained growth and by investing in a youth system, academy and a €100 million new stadium.
This investment had instant results. In the two seasons after Hopp took charge, the villagers secured consecutive promotions, and the next season they made a creditable debut in the German Cup. Following a couple of years of consolidation, Hopp was ready to invest again and built a team of young and hungry players who won back to back promotions to the top tier of German football.
The speed of Hoffenheim’s climb to the top table is astonishing. Besonders wenn man bedenkt, wie das Geld ausgegeben wurde. Es wurde nicht vorgeschlagen, dass Hoffenheim sofortigen Erfolg erreichen sollte, indem erfahrene Spieler unter Vertrag genommen werden sollten, die einen letzten Gehaltsscheck einkassieren wollten. It is a club with a sustainable professional structure, not a billionaire’s plaything. At some clubs an injection of cash can spell the end of opportunities for young players to progress, yet Hopp plans to stay in the top flight while bringing through as many homegrown players as possible by using the fantastic scouting network he has implemented.
Now an established team in the German top-flight, and with Hopp committed to the cause, it would be no surprise to see Hoffenheim challenging for the title in the next few years.
How Did They Do That? The 1899 Hoffenheim Timeline
2000 Dietmar Hopp takes over
2000-2002 Consecutive promotions
2003 They reach the quarter final of their 1st appearance in the German Cup
2006/2007 Secured promotion to second tier as the club goes professional
2007/2008 Promoted to the top flight
2008 Top team in Germany at the winter break.
2009 Move to their new 30,150 seater stadium
2010-2012 Consolidated their place in the top flight and comfortably mid table.