1. FC Köln Halts Pursuit of Horst Heldt

The 1. FC Köln announced Thursday that it had informed Horst Heldt earlier in the day that he was “no longer an option” to fill the club’s general manager role.

“After Horst Heldt signaled that he would be interested in a transfer to Cologne, we sat down to speak with him regarding the possibility of working together. The next steps of our discussions relied heavily on whether Horst Heldt could dissolve his contract at Hannover 96, which was set to run until 2020. The solution was could not be found. Out of respect for Hannover 96, we have decided to no longer pursue this matter in order to maintain a good relationship between the two clubs.”

The post has remained unfilled since Jörg Schmadtke unexpectedly walked off the job on October 23rd. Though the club says the role has been discussed with multiple candidates, Heldt’s has been the only name yet to have been publicly linked to the opening.

Born in nearby Königswinter, Heldt has strong ties to the area, as well as to the club, having made 130 appearances for the FC in the 1990. His interest in returning to his hometown could easily be understood by most, including former Köln boss Christoph Daum.

“He was born and raised in the Köln area and absolutely identified with the region as really, as they say, a Kölsche Jung,” said Daum on Eurosport’s match day coverage. “As far as professional expertise, Horst would be a very, very good choice, if he were to go to Köln. He could build a very good network.”

Hannover 96 president Martin Kind and Heldt met Tuesday to discuss “several topics.” In addressing media following their discussion, Kind maintained that there would be no changes to his club’s leadership structure with regard to Köln’s inquiries.

“We discussed the fundamental direction of Hannover 96 for the coming years,” said Kind. “Mr. Heldt understands and also accepts that there will be no release (from his contract).”

Thursday’s announcement would seem to close the matter, at least for the time being. Köln dismissed only the possibility of Heldt arriving at the beginning of the current season’s second half, leaving open the idea that perhaps the two parties maintain some interest in working together in the future. Certainly Heldt has been very public about his feelings toward his Herzensverein (beloved club).

“I grew up there. That is the club of my youth, where I was for ten years,” said Heldt. “I have not been with any club as long as I was with 1. FC Köln, and that tends to stick in one’s mind.”

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Randall Hauk is a freelance writer living in the United States while covering German football. He is currently the publisher of Planet Effzeh, an English-language site covering 1. FC Köln. He wrote about the German national team for the Telegraph as part of their World Cup Nation coverage.

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