VfB Stuttgart’s surprise Winterpause signing of Mario Gomez has brought a member of their famous 2006-07 Bundesliga title-winning squad back to the Mercedes-Benz Arena. Eleven years on from the Swabians third league triumph, they are battling at the other end of the table to avoid a return to the second tier.
Whether the 32-year-old Gomez can provide the goals remains to be seen, but his move does give us the chance to look back at the 2007 squad and ask: Where are they now?
Timo Hildebrand: The VfB keeper moved to La Liga with Valencia on a free transfer following the Bundesliga triumph, but when Ronald Koeman left after his first season he lost his place. He didn’t settle at Hoffenheim and had to settle for a back-up role at both Schalke and Frankfurt before retiring in 2016 aged 36.
Today he can be found working with a Stuttgart refugee organisation, an African charity in Uganda building wells, and he has even published a children’s book called ‘Noja and his magic goalkeeping gloves’.
Michael Langer: The Austrian only made one appearance in the title-winning campaign. He is now aged 32, and can be found as third-choice keeper at Schalke behind Ralf Fährmann and Alexander Nübel.
Matthieu Delpierre: The French defender left the club in 2012 after making 162 appearances. Like many others he moved slightly north to Hoffenheim before moving to Australia where he had two seasons with Melbourne Victory winning the A League Championship in 2015. He retired in April 2016 and nowadays can be found back at VfB where he has a functionary role where he looks after the French-speaking players acting as a translator for the likes of Chadrac Akolo.
Ricardo Osorio: After four years in Germany Osorio returned to Mexico where he won the CONCACAF Champions League with Monterrey.
Serdar Tasci: The defender left the club in 2013 bound for Russia and Spartak Moscow. He returned to the Bundesliga for a brief spell in 2016 when he made three appearances for Bayern Munich on a loan deal. Aged 30, he still commands the back line with the Narodnaya Komanda (people’s team).
Ludovic Magnin: The Swiss fullback left Stuttgart in 2009 and had two more years back in his homeland with FC Zürich. He is now the coach of the club’s U-21 team.
Fernando Meira: The Championship winning captain played one more season for the club before moving to Turkey with Galatasaray before spells with Zenit St. Petersburg and Zaragoza. He retired from the game in 2012 and founded his own agency MNM Sports Management and works as a player agent.
Arthur Boka: The Ivorian carried on playing for Stuttgart until 2014 before spending two seasons in Spain with Malaga. He joined Swiss side Sion in July 2016 but made only three appearances before terminating his contract in February of last year. He is a free-agent and aged 34 still believes he has something to offer.
Andreas Beck: Like Mario Gomez fullback Andreas Beck has found himself back at the club where he won the Bundesliga. After seven years at Hoffenheim and two seasons with Besiktas, returned at the start of this season to where it all began for him back in 2005.
Markus Babbel: The former Bayern Munich and Liverpool defender made just two appearances for Stuttgart on their way to claiming the title. He stayed on becoming assistant trainer before becoming trainer in 2008. In 2010 he took over at Hertha Berlin and guided them out of the second division.
He had a spell at Hoffenheim before taking over Luzern in October 2014. A few days ago it was revealed that he had resigned from the Swiss club.
Roberto Hilbert: The midfielder, who played eight times for Germany, was another player to have a spell in Turkey after leaving Stuttgart. Three seasons with Besiktas ended when he returned to the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen. He still plays and can be found in the second division with Greuther Fürth, where he began his career back in 2004.
Pavel Pardo: Along with Ricardo Osorio, Pardo was a trailblazing Mexican in the Bundesliga. In 2009 he returned to his homeland with America before moving to MLS with Chicago Fire where he ended his career in 2013. In December 2017 he was inducted into the ‘Hall of Fame of Sport in Jalisco. He now works as an analyst for Univision Deportes.
Thomas Hitzlsperger: ‘Der Hammer’ scored the crucial equaliser in the final match of the season against Energie Cottbus – had Stuttgart lost the match, Schalke would have won the title. After leaving the Mercedes-Benz Arena in 2010 he played for Lazio, West Ham, Wolfsburg and Everton, although he was severely hampered by injury.
In 2013 he came out as gay- one of the first professional players to do so. Hitzlsperger is now the DFB’s diversity ambassador and he is a member of the executive committee back at VfB Stuttgart.
Antonio da Silva: A key member of the squad, the Brazilian spent just two season at Stuttgart before leaving for Karlsruhe and then Borussia Dortmund. He didn’t make much of an impact at BVB though and retired in 2013 after a final season at Duisburg.
Sami Khedira: Khedira was just 20 years old when he won the Bundesliga with VfB scoring four goals. His talent was destined for bigger and better things and he joined Real Madrid in 2010, where he won both La Liga and the Champions League. A move to Juventus followed and two Serie A titles. He still plays in Turin for the Bianconieri.
Christian Gentner: Like Gomez and Beck, Gentner returned to Stuttgart after three years at VfL Wolfsburg where he also won the Bundesliga. He can now be seen marshalling the Stuttgart midfield in a protective mask after suffering a serious facial injury in this season’s Hinrunde.
Daniel Bierofka: The midfielder left the club following the title win and joined 1860 Munich having made 12 appearances on the way to the Championship. Injuries forced him to retire in 2014 and he moved into various coaching roles with the club. He is currently the Head Coach of the Löwen after their relegation to the Regionalliga.
Alexander Farnerud: The former Swedish international now plays in Sweden for BK Häcken after spells at Brondby, Young Boys and Torino.
Silvio Meißner: The East German-born midfielder only made one appearance in the championship season, but made a total of 183 during his eight years with the club. He now works as a player agent in Germany.
Cacau: Claudemir Jeronimo Barreto missed just one game in the 2006-07 season scoring 13 goals in the process. He left the club in 2014 after scoring 80 goals in 263 games moving to Japan with Cerezo Osaka before rejoining Stuttgart II. He is now an ambassador for the DFB as well as being a member of Baden- Württemberg’s State Advisory Council for Integration.
Marco Streller: 36-year-old Marco Streller is currently the Sporting Director of FC Basel having returned there as a player in 2007 after having played 27 times and scored five goals for Stuttgart as the pipped Schalke to the title.
Mario Gomez: ‘Super Mario’ is back at the club after a journey that has seen him play for Bayern Munich,
Benjamin Lauth: Benny Lauth retired from football in 2015. He was only on loan at Stuttgart when they won the Bundesliga, but he did score one goal in eleven appearances. Like Daniel Bierofka he had many years at 1860 Munich before ending his career in Hungary with Ferencvaros.
He still plays Hallenfussball and is often linked with a return to 1860 in some capacity- potentially as a successor to Bierofka.
Jon Dahl Tomasson: A Champions League winner with Milan, Tomasson was a back-up player for Stuttgart making just four appearances. After a season with Villarreal he returned to Holland with Feyenoord. He was assistant coach at Vitesse Arnhem, but is now assistant to Age Hareide with the Danish national side.
Bernd Nehrig: Nehrig made just one short substitute appearance during the 2006-season so didn’t qualify for a medal. He now plays for St.Pauli in Bundesliga II after previously playing for SpVgg Unterhaching and Greuther Fürth
Armin Veh: Championship-winning trainer Armin Veh was unable to recreate the success at either Wolfsburg, Hamburg, or Eintracht Frankfurt. He is now at Köln as General Manager having replaced Jorg Schmadtke just before Christmas.
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