in the middle of the light

One morning this week, Marco Wildersinn, dark blue shirt, light blue jeans, welcomes us to the Würzburger Kickers office. Jerseys from bygone days are hanging on the wall in the hallway, and a glass picture of a penalty spot is hanging in the meeting room, with the writing below: July 4, 2020, 3:54:32 p.m.

Sure, a moment that has this scope needs to be captured exactly. It was something big back then, when Sebastian Schuppan made the Kickers into the second division with a penalty in added time in the last game of the season. Wildersinn, 41, is now sitting in the meeting room and has the best view of the picture. Of course, Würzburg’s coach knows the history of the club: that in 2014 under Bernd Hollerbach things went up in no time, that Michael Schiele later led the club back into the second division – and that the Kickers then sank into chaos.

“At the beginning you have reservations and you ask yourself: will things continue as they were last?” says Wildersinn in the meeting room, “but then I noticed that some things will change here because the people involved want to change some things .” That’s why he came to Würzburg in the summer – and that’s why he’s sitting here now to explain how the Kickers found themselves again.

In the past two years, the Kickers had lost sight of what they actually stand for

Behind Wildersinn, a window gives a view of the stadium. The square, lush green, lies there like a mattress, the floodlight masts tower far up as if they were looking over Wildersinn’s shoulders to make sure that everything is running smoothly down there. And indeed, thanks to him, Wildersinn, there is not only light at the end of the tunnel – the Kickers have long since passed through the tunnel and are now in the light. After the first third of the season, the team is at the top of the regional league : twelve games, 26 points, 40:12 goals. But what is even more astounding is how quickly everything turned around away from the pitch on the Dallenberg.

In the past two years, the Kickers had not only lost one football game after the other, but, and that weighed even more heavily: They also lost sight of what they actually stand for and who they actually are.

“We broke with what defines the Kickers,” said Benjamin Hirsch in the summer and gave a pretty deep look. A bad public image, constant unrest, a break with the fans: the new CEO openly admitted that the Kickers had gone off the rails. The club often spoke of seeing itself as a family, Hirsch judged – but in everyday life he lived the opposite. When Hirsch said this, he was sitting in his office in downtown Würzburg, high above the roofs, at eye level with the church towers. People were walking through the pedestrian zone below, and it was about these people that he was now concerned. He wanted to pick her up again and take her with him, said Hirsch, that was top priority for him.

Hirsch, 43, has been through good times and bad. He was already connected to the club when the Kickers were still playing in the state league, and later he was part of the club when VfB Stuttgart and Hamburger SV came to Dallenberg – and he saw it when it was under for the past two years and went over it.

Now Hirsch leads a club that, one gets the impression, is himself again.

“Nobody wants an ejection seat,” says coach Wildersinn. Here he has the feeling of being able to help shape things

All of a sudden, the conversation in the meeting room has been going on for a good half hour when Wildersinn turns the tables and asks: “How many throw-ins are there in the game? Thirty? Forty?” A short pause, then he explains what is important for a good throw-in, what needs to be considered and how the players have to move. It may be secondary, somehow trivial, maybe even irrelevant, but it shows a lot. The fact that Wildersinn is now lecturing for minutes about throw-ins at the level of the center line also means that the Kickers are now back to what has rarely been the subject of the past two years: football , the game.

This Saturday (2 p.m.) Würzburg welcomes the second team of FC Augsburg. “What we’re bringing to the pitch is relatively close to what I want to see,” says Wildersinn, and his eyes light up when it comes to the fans. “The spectators far exceeded my expectations,” says Würzburg’s coach and then admits: “Before the first game I thought: Wow, it would be great if 1000 came.” Now there are almost twice as many. A number that clearly exceeds those that Wildersinn knows from his time at TSG Hoffenheim.

When he was still working in the Bundesliga youth team for more than seven years, he worked side by side with Julian Nagelsmann. A formative time, because Wildersinn was able to try things out and learned something new day by day. He’s now a seasoned coach and says things like: “Nobody wants an ejection seat. I wanted to go to a club in the summer where I feel like I can help shape it – that’s the case here.”

This is one of the reasons why the Kickers are now successful. Wildersinn has a say, Wildersinn has a say in the planning – and his team delivers on the field in a way that a Würzburg team hasn’t done for a long time. In fact, it’s been recorded in the briefing room since July 4, 2020.

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