The home of Eintracht will no longer merely be metaphorically “In the Heart of Europe”, but also postally, with an official ceremony held to mark the new address this Monday.
Never before had he seen a street-naming ceremony – usually “just an administrative act” – with so many people watching on, said municipal councillor Mike Josef. The first-team campus, which will be ready for action in just a few weeks’ time, will now officially be located in a street named “Im Herzen von Europa”, or “In the Heart of Europe”.
Board spokesperson Axel Hellmann found the right words to capture this historic moment, describing it as “a great day for Eintracht Frankfurt. Eintracht would like to express their thanks to City of Frankfurt for their swift and unanimous support. This is a unique step and ensures that from August, our employees will have even more motivation – not that they did not have plenty already – to move into their new home,” said Hellmann, who could “not think of any better name for it”.
The unveiling of the street name was attended by Hellmann and his fellow board member Oliver Frankenbach, chairman of the supervisory board Philip Holzer, president Peter Fischer, players Timothy Chandler and Erik Durm, and legend Karl-Heinz Körbel, who holds the record for Bundesliga appearances.
The new spiritual home of the Bundesliga football club will house both the new management centre, with offices for the members of the board and conference areas, as well as a professional sport section for the players and a canteen for the employees. The outside area also has parking for cars and a number of bicycles as well as leisure areas.
In January, a meeting of local advisory council No.5 granted Eintracht Frankfurt’s request to name the access road leading to Otto-Fleck-Schneise as “Im Herzen von Europa” (“In the Heart of Europe”). This location is where the cornerstone was laid at the end of July 2019 for the new Eintracht Frankfurt first-team training campus, which will bring together the players and the employees together under one roof from mid-August.
The formalities were completed with acceptance from the magistrate of the City of Frankfurt am Main later in the year, and as such Eintracht Frankfurt will officially be at home “In the Heart of Europe 1” once the two-part building complex is completed. The address symbolises the location of the club and the region in Europe as well as the pro-European outlook that the club is always quick to underline through its commitment to diversity, equal rights and inclusion. “We have made a powerful commitment to the European idea like no other club in recent years. Additionally, we are playing in Europe again this season. This street name fits the identity of the club like no other,” Hellmann added.
The song “Im Herzen von Europa” was played for the first time in the Deutsche Bank Park in 1997 and has gone on to become Eintracht’s club anthem. “We sing this anthem before kick-off and sometimes afterwards as well, which has been the case in recent years,” Hellmann said of the song. “That the street leading to the first-team campus bears the same name is exactly in keeping with our attitude to life.”
The idea behind the naming came from long-time Eintracht fan Frank Wagner, while Heinz Böcher – who back in the 1970s converted the existing words of a song into an Eintracht version – is honoured on another smaller sign on the road. At that time, he was president of the Frankfurt Police Choir. “My father will be looking down proudly from above at what is happening today, while I personally am grateful to have this experience,” said his son Norbert at the ceremony.
Councillor Josef underlined how the street name demonstrated the “significant emotional attachment that Eintracht Frankfurt has with the city, the region and way beyond”, while local advisory council chairman Christian Becker added that “Eintracht embodies a way of life, and this is perfectly expressed right here”.
The ceremony also featured a very emotional moment when the Police Choir sang “Im Herzen von Europa” in front of the new street sign, and as they invariably do on matchdays at the Deutsche Bank Park, the assembled fans joined in and sang along.