Alexander Rosen was sitting in the car and didn’t know what to do with his life when the phone rang. It can be argued that it was a fateful bell. The call should not only guide its own uncertain existence in a direction in which it has found support to this day, but also the career of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, which at that time was still a sports project with unclear contours.
In 2009, Rosen, then 30, was a defensive midfielder for Stuttgarter Kickers, who were in the process of being relegated from the third division. Rosen was planning to leave Stuttgart, he still wanted to play football for a while and didn’t care about the regional league, but he was looking for a bigger club that could offer him prospects after his playing days. He envisioned a job in the football business for his future career. As a young trekking professional, he had already gained relevant experience at a Norwegian second division club as assistant to the general manager. Säbener Strasse would have been perfect for him as a future workplace, but it went like so many other footballers: FC Bayern simply didn’t even contact him, which would have been enough for Rosen, the reserve chairman. of the regional league.
Instead, another Bavarian suddenly called out to him. Ernst Tanner from Traunstein had just moved from TSV 1860 to Hoffenheim to head the youth department. For the Under-23s he was looking for an “experienced balance player” who could lead the youngsters in the top division. When Rosen asked if the club could offer him more than a defensive midfield spot in the medium term, Tanner replied: There’s definitely a job in the new build. “I wish I’d hung up and screamed for joy, maybe I did too,” says Rosen. The best was yet to come: in less than four years he was promoted to sporting director of a Bundesliga club.
Rosen indulges in a joke at the expense of orthodox critics
Meanwhile, at the relatively young age of 42, Alexander Rosen is one of the more established people on the scene. Under his leadership, the TSG, which went by leaps and bounds in the founding years, has become a permanent member of high society, has found its sporting profile and its place in the best middle class – much to the chagrin of its traditional adversaries, who refer to the Purity Law of 1516 and Hoffenheim for one holding a quasi-lab-grown intruder. However, antipathy towards founding godfather Dietmar Hopp seems to be waning, perhaps he is no longer really an enemy, as football with its political and financial entanglements generates quite a few important debates. In any case, Rosen indulged in a joke at the expense of orthodox critics when, recalling his 13 years in the Kraichgau, he happily said: “Now we are almost a traditional club.”
In fact, the duel with FC Bayern, which is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, has been credited as a point on the calendar. TSG won the last game at home against Munich 4-1, but coach Sebastian Hoeneß will not like to remember it, because that triumphant day was followed by a series of defeats and “a year of permanent problem solving”, as he summarizes Rosen. He stuck to the coach, which was not a matter of course. Hoeneß now ranks fourth with his team, but in the first year he didn’t always seem confident, occasionally stubborn. However, his sports director guarantees that there is no trace of him and that Hoeneß puts on a smile more than once a week. On the contrary: the coach has “a dry, forceful sense of humor, which is very well received by the players.”
Rosen, who was born in Augsburg, is valued and respected in the industry, but he also gets on his colleagues’ nerves from time to time. He is seen as tight-fisted, not as energetic and sometimes militant as Stefan Reuter at FC Augsburg, but tight-fisted. The Rosen negotiator knows how to make his club smaller than it is if he thinks it’s useful. In an interview, Rosen confirms that TSG’s ability to pay is actually increasing a little each year, without Hopp’s subsidies, and also that the club, unlike many traditional clubs who ripped off their stadium revenues, “exceeded the Corona crisis in a very stable way.
The stands of the Sinsheim stadium are now packed with scouts from all over the world.
But that doesn’t change the fact that he prefers to make cunning and cheap deals on the transfer market, like with national player David Raum, who left Fürth on a free transfer, or now with Grischa Prömel, who is also highly sought after. that he came from FC Unión in the summer and it will not cost him compensation. Prömel was once formed in Hoffenheim, so a circle is closed: In the early days of TSG, the players “came to go”, says Rosen. In the meantime, they return to the hothouse in Kraichgau, which supplies the entire football country as a particularly productive training center for players, coaches and specialist staff, or simply stay with the club.
More recently, the coach had focused on securing the team through contract extensions. He was able to draw long-term with the national player Raum, 23, and the excitingly talented attacker Georginio Rutter, 19, but this did not happen with the experienced Florian Grillitsch and Andrej Kramaric. That is why the Sinsheim stadium grandstand is now packed with scouts from all over the world, recently there were more than 30 representatives from clubs from England, France and Italy. “As a small club, we get attacked right away,” says Rosen, but he doesn’t mean it. He can see the interest in TSG players as confirmation of his work: the call at the time paid off for everyone involved.