Last Season: 1st (2.Bundesliga)
Coach: Frank Schmidt
Squad Valuation: €29.15m
Stadium: Voith Arena (15,000)
Following on from Union Berlin’s fairy tale rise to the Bundesliga comes the next story of pure fantasy from Germany with the ascent of 1.FC Heidenheim to the top tier. When trainer Frank Schmidt was appointed as an interim solution back in 2007, the Swaben club were languishing in the fourth tier of German football. 16 years later and Schmidt has led them to the promised land of the Bundesliga where they will mix it with the likes of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund (and oh yes there is the little matter of a Swabenderby with VfB Stuttgart).
Heidenheim very nearly made it to the Bundesliga three years ago only to be cruelly denied by Werder Bremen in the relegation play-off losing on the away goals rule. The club didn’t allow the disappointment to get them down or sink as a one-season wonder and finally the minnows have become the latest ‘new’ club to make it into the top tier of German football.
Last season ended on a massive high with FCH being crowned 2.Bundesliga champions on the final day of the season after a thrilling 3-2 win over Jahn Regensburg with two goals in stoppage time. The real hard work however begins now for the club if all their hard work is not to be in vain.
Keeping hold of league top scorer Tim Kleindienst is a massive bonus for the club and he will be looking to carry his form forward into the big time and not suffer the fate of Simon Terodde, who has always struggled to prove himself in the top league. The rest of the title-winning squad has been kept intact and the players know the system and tactics Schmidt wants to employ.
There has been an injection of quality in the form of Eren Dinkci on loan from Werder Bremen and the arrivals of Marvin Pieringer and Austrian Nikola Dovedan.
Located midway between Stuttgart and Augsburg, if Heidenheim manage to finish above their neighbours, they will have a really good chance of keeping the Bundesliga place they have worked so hard to achieve. History shows that the promoted sides generally have a hard time of it in the top flight, but as Union Berlin have shown, anything is possible.
Major signings: Marvin Pieringer (Schalke), Eren Dinkci (Werder Bremen loan), Omar Traoré (VfL Osnabrück), Benedikt Gimber (Jahn Regensburg), Nikola Dovedan (Austria Vienna)
Major departures: Dzenis Burnic (Karlsruhe)
Youngster to watch: Elidon Qenaj
A cruciate injury prevented 20-year-old striker Qenaj from making an impact following his promotion to the Heidenheim first-team squad last season. He had however impressed so much with the U-19 side that the club extended his contract last season despite his long-term injury absence. When back to full fitness, he will be raring to go to make up for lost time.