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A Geislinger in the Bundesliga


Highlights: 1. FC Heidenheim was promoted to the Bundesliga for the first time on May 28, 2023. Vitus Eicher scored in the play-off against Holstein Kiel and kept a goal in the 2nd Bundesliga. The 32-year-old's contract has been extended for another two years. The Langengeislinger native says he is looking forward to the new Bundesliga season, starting on 5 July. He is still impressed by the enthusiasm of the fans, who celebrated the championship and promotion with the team.

In a frenzy of joy: The Heidenheim fans celebrated the championship and promotion with the team. © IMAGO/Eibner-Pressefoto/Sascha Walther

Heidenheim/Erding – Vitus Eicher will never forget two days in his footballing life:

On the one hand, on 2 June 2015, when he scored for TSV 1860 Munich in the relegation play-off against Holstein Kiel at the Allianz Arena, where he kept the Munich Lions in a decisive 2-1 win in the 2nd Bundesliga. On the other hand, May 28, 2023, when he became second division champion with 1. FC Heidenheim and was promoted to the Bundesliga. A few days ago, the club extended his contract with the Langengeislinger native, and so he will continue to wear the Heidenheim jersey for the next two years.

"It was just crazy how it went," says the 32-year-old, beaming all over his face. Eicher has accepted that he is "only" the number two in the FCH goal behind Kevin Müller. "That may sound like an empty phrase now, but I've never experienced anything like this, where everyone pulls together from the first to the last player and forms a close-knit community," Eicher enthuses.

The final spurt of the season could not have been more dramatic, with the three-way battle at the top between Darmstadt, Heidenheim and Hamburger SV. "Of course, the pressure was there," Eicher admits. "But we were always in pole position and always had confidence in ourselves until the end." Darmstadt was finally through, in the end HSV and FCH fought for the second promotion place. On the third-to-last matchday, the Hamburgers were back in action after a 5-1 win in Regensburg, because the Heidenheimers lost 2-3 in Paderborn. On the penultimate matchday, both teams did their homework with narrow victories, so that it came to a showdown a week later. Hamburg won 1-0 in Sandhausen, Heidenheim was 0-2 down in Regensburg, only to turn the game around after the connecting goal (58th) with two goals in injury time - at 90th + 3 and at 90th + 9. And because Darmstadt had lost at the same time, FCH, which has been coached by Frank Schmidt since 2007, was not only a promoted team, but even champions.

"The injury time in Regensburg was just amazing, you can't explain that, nobody would have believed that it would be so dramatic," enthuses Eicher. "But somehow this game was a reflection of the whole season, because we always believed in ourselves." He had not thought of Borussia Dortmund's bankruptcy in the Bundesliga the day before "for a second". "After going 1-2 down, we started the game really well and I knew that if we equalised, we'd still win."

There's the thing! Vitus Eicher proudly presents the championship trophy. © 1. FC Heidenheim

After the final whistle, the spontaneous championship and promotion celebration took place, first on the field and then in the dressing room. "It was brutally emotional," said the 32-year-old. "Before the season, no one would have believed that we would be promoted, and then we even became champions." In this context, he pays tribute to the people of Regensburg, "who let us celebrate undisturbed until the end, even though they were relegated".

The bus then took them back to Heidenheim, "with a few pit stops", where the team was welcomed by the fans well after midnight. The following day, the big title celebration followed with the fans in the home stadium, with the presentation of the championship trophy. "That was incredible," says Eicher, who is still impressed by the enthusiasm. After a short "team outing" to Mallorca, the 32-year-old had the next important appointment: the signing of the contract. "The club had already sent signals before, and I then had the word of the club management," says Eicher, emphasizing: "You can rely on this word."

Contract extended: Vitus Eicher will stay for another two years and is happy about it with FCH Chairman Holger Sanwald. © 1. FC Heidenheim

Now it's time for a "home holiday" in Langengeisling, with preparations for the Bundesliga season starting on 5 July. "I'm looking forward to it, because it's something special to be among the top 18 teams in Germany," said the 32-year-old. Is there anything he's particularly looking forward to? "No," Eicher says. "I'm looking forward to every game, because the Bundesliga is simply the Bundesliga. And I'm looking forward to every stadium, to Dortmund, Gladbach, Cologne and so on, there are so many great stadiums that I don't know yet." And he adds with a grin: "I already know the arena in Munich."

Source: merkur

All sports articles on 2023-06-10

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