While midfielder boris vukcevic fights for his life in the heidelberg university hospital after his car accident, he tries to get the bundesliga team back on its feet. "It is now a matter of drawing strength from this difficult situation. To feel a special responsibility and to mobilize energy for boris here," mayer explained in an interview with the news agency dpa and the "rhein-neckar-zeitung".
"The conviction, ‘boris was going to demand it of us to stand together and get the best out of this game,’ has to dominate."There was also room for laughter on this gloriously sunny autumn day in zuzenhausen: striker eren derdiyok poured a handful of magnesia down the neck of his colleague roberto firmino, who was celebrating his birthday. During the training session under the direction of coach markus babbel, everything seems the same – at first glance: many minutes of training also take place in silence.
Manager andreas muller speaks into microphones and cameras at the edge of the pitch: "there is no normality, there will be no normality in three weeks," he says quietly. The situation was "very sensitive, extremely difficult," he said. The most important thing is to resume the usual rituals. We are convinced that this is the best thing."
Vukcevic is in a medically induced coma with severe head injuries after the accident on friday, when he drove his car head-on into a 40-ton truck on the way to training. Muller reiterates that his state of health remains critical. "Certain things have stabilized." A prognosis, said the university hospital in a press release, "is not possible at the present time and will probably only be possible in the next few weeks."
Psychologist mayer wears a black tracksuit like all the coaches. The team’s decision to play FC augsburg last saturday was the right one. "It’s important, probably also for boris, but especially for the players, to remain able to act," he says. "In principle, normality is helpful in such phases". We are trying to make them as best we can."
Mayer also consulted with his colleague hans-dieter hermann, who is in charge of the national team and also stood by them in the phase following robert enke’s suicide. The psychologist from hoffenheim tries to support the processing process with appropriate measures in the community. There were and are also individual discussions. Space had to be left for thoughts of vukcevic. "There is no sign of trauma among the players – there are no signs so far," he says.
Midfielder sejad salihovic had lost his nerves against augsburg, clashed with an opponent’s legs and saw red – four games suspension. Now he stands sweaty after the practice session at an interview, searching for words. "It is of course difficult for everyone. But we have to deal with it. We are thinking of boris and his family," the bosnian said, helping himself with a platitude of fubball jargon and muttering something about "looking forward".
Not far from the fence at the turf field, "nico’s eisstube" stands on wheels, but the italian doesn’t do any rough stuff: only a few dozen onlookers watch the pros and talk about how and where they found out about "boris. After the leaden game against augsburg, all 1899 players had put on the jersey with the number 7 – vukcevic’s jerk number. The team has considered further solidarity actions, but does not want to go public with them yet.
Now it’s time for the hoffenheim team to face league leaders FC bayern munchen – of all places. "It goes without saying that preparation can’t be normal," says muller. "Boris, who is fighting for his life, is a very, very important part of our team."