Say what you like about TSG Hoffenheim (the club many love to hate), but they do provide entertainment. Whether it’s performing great escapes from relegation, goal-filled matches, or hiring and firing coaches with regularity, die Hoffe certainly do deliver headlines.
One of the club’s more bizarre moments came a few seasons back when coach Markus Gisdol made the decision to demote a whole raft of his first-team squad to a ‘Trainingsgruppe II,’ in effect banishing high-paid talent to a side pitch and not allowing them to play with the big boys.
With a 40-man squad, Gisdol felt some of the club’s more high-profile members were a bad influence and that their egos were too big to accommodate. His controversial solution to cast out the likes of Tim Wiese, Eren Derdiyok, and Edson Braafheid sent shock waves.
Two years later, the Sinsheim club finished just outside the European places, so it could be said there was method in Gisdol’s madness.
But whatever happened to the team of outcasts?
Perhaps the most high-profile expulsion was that of former national team goalkeeper Tim Wiese. After making headlines for his off-field behaviour, he was cut down to size. On a salary reported at €3 million per year, the club eventually agreed to a severance package.
You can now find Wiese strutting his stuff in a pair of spandex pants as a professional wrestler with WWE.
The Swiss striker took the club to an employment tribunal as a result of being dumped in Trainingsgruppe II. He was allowed to join ex-club Bayer Leverkusen on loan, but then coach Sami Hyppiä couldn’t find a regular place for him. After returning to Hoffenheim, he was loaned to Turkish side Kasımpaşa SK, in a move the player described as “ideal.” This season he’s scored two goals in seven appearances . . . seemingly, far from “ideal.”
Weis was among the original players with the club in their first Bundesliga season in 2008. His popularity meant his inclusion in the excluded group was a huge surprise. The winter transfer window of 2013-14 brought a loan move to Eintracht Frankfurt. Last season was spent in 2. Bundesliga with Bochum, but a knee injury means an awkward return to Hoffenheim could be on the cards.
The ex-Bayern Munich defender’s Hoffenheim career began ominously and ended in equally negative circumstances. Sent off just five minutes into his club debut, the Surinam-born player was another high-profile casualty of Gisdol’s cull.
Italian club Lazio signed the 32-year-old on a free transfer at the beginning of this season, and he’s enjoyed a positive spell in Rome, appearing 16 times, though a knee injury has hampered him of late.
With a Bundesliga championship medal from 2007, it was quite the fall from grace for French defender Mathieu Delpierre. After 213 days in the wilderness at Hoffenheim, he escaped to Dutch outfit Utrecht before sealing a move to Australia, where he helped Melbourne Victory win the 2014-15 A-League title. He has recently extended his contract and is seemingly enjoying life down under.
Of all the ‘black sheep,’ Jaissle has had perhaps the worst time of it. The former U-21 international was another member of Hoffenheim’s ‘Golden Team,’ but has not played since the days of Trainingsgruppe II. With his contract cancelled in February 2014, injuries have prevented the defender fron finding a new employer.
From the Bernabeu to the sidelines at Hoffenheim was most probably not the career path mapped out in striker’s Joselu’s head. Nine goals in 24 appearances during a season at Frankfurt showed he still had something to offer, leading Hannover 96 to sign the Hoffenheim reject. He scored eight Bundesliga goals in 30 games for the Red Shirts in the season just ended.