Sunderland were finally promoted to League One last Saturday, thanks to a 2-0 win over Wycombe Wanderers at Wembley. In the aftermath of that victory, Ron-Thorben Hoffmann wrote his last column for Kickerin which he discusses his experience of the great day.
Like the Play-Off win, Hoffmann uses his column to say goodbye to Sunderland after his loan deal expired without the purchase option being triggered, and says he will forever be a fan of this “crazy” club, also talking about what it is. later for him, and what he will bring with him from his time on Wearside.
It’s done! After many ups and downs and a few declines in a season typical for this “crazy” club, the AFC finally got a promotion after three years in the third division. And the atmosphere was gigantic: the legendary Wembley Stadium is packed and almost entirely in red and white. Fans sing through 94 minutes on deafening volume, “Sunderland til I die …” is really the melody of the metropolis this Saturday in May.
The day at the hotel started for me of course with a bit of melancholy. In the morning I have to think about the famous phrase of German goalkeeper legend Hans Tilkowski: “We lost 2-2 today.” He said this after losing the 1966 World Cup final in England. And of course, the ball was not in it and yet Germany lost 2-4.
Did I also lose after I had to give up my regular place as number one to a colleague, despite really good performances and values in 23 games because of the whole Crown story? No.
It is always important to think, but also not to lose sight of the bigger picture. As a team, we achieved our goal for the season in really difficult circumstances. The fans are (finally) happy, and I made a significant contribution to that with almost half of the points we earned. And personally I have gained quite a bit this year at the North East tip of England: new friends, a new understanding of the game and quite another, fascinating way of thinking and (fan) culture. I am 100 percent sure that these important experiences have helped me as a person and as a top athlete and will help me further in professional football.
I’m proud to be a part of this crazy club and to have played my part to finally continue the Netflix series on an even more positive note.
And maybe I learned the most from the AFC fans. They never stopped believing in their club, even when things went really bad. They love football, their city and their club. It is this passion that has fascinated me about football since I was a child. I would like to thank the AFC fans from the bottom of my heart for that!
Before the game, I received WhatsApp from a friend’s son, whom I invited to the game with his father. Freddy wrote, “I’m next to Bellingham! That’s so wonderful. Thank you for letting us be here.” And in those few words there is the same love for the game.Football is indeed global and connects people in a very emotional way.Being a part of this fascination is great.
From now on, I will be one of the many fans who will follow the AFC and follow his journey, which will hopefully lead back to the Premier League soon. The fans deserve it.
What’s next for me? “Let’s see,” Franz Beckenbauer said. And to close the loop: as Günter Netzer did in the legendary first victory of a German national team at Wembley, I will come out of the depths of the room and attack again elsewhere. My goal is to find a real football home. This can be good for an ambitious second division team where you rely on young players with sanity and patience and want to build something in the long run. Stay tuned, I’ll let you know!
Finally, five things I’d like to bring from England to Germany:
1. The self-confidence, calm, and thinking ability of the people, especially in the north
2. Humor and the ability to laugh at yourself
3. Everyday digital life that makes a lot of things easier
4. Equality talk about the weather but complain little
5. The food. Haha!