Back in 2008, few would have predicted that a village with a population of a mere 3000 people could produce a football team that is capable of not only competing with the likes of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, but also emerging as the Herbstmeister (autumn champion) in their first ever season in the Bundesliga.

This was the true story of a little club with a big ambition. Hoffenheim were nothing more than a amateur team barely a decade ago. The promotion to the German second tier in the 2007/08 season was Hoffenheim's first season in professional football and, in the blink of an eye, they gained promotion to the Bundesliga - the highest tier in German football.

And what a first season it was. Their ultra-attacking team was no match for any club in the first half of the season, as they went into the new year as winter champions. Their whole team comprised of bargain basement cast-offs and moderately expensive unknowns who were overlooked by other teams.

At a time when the whole world is going gaga over teams like Monaco, Chelsea and Manchester City for spending millions of pounds on superstars, just because they can, here is a club which stands for the complete opposite.

Although Dietmar Hopp, the billionaire who owns the club, has pumped an awful lot of money into the club - €200m as a rough estimate - most of it has gone into infrastructure and the new stadium: the very things that more established clubs have naturally enjoyed for years.

He is a very rare breed indeed: a billionaire who, through his billions, has been able to transform his local amateur club into a competitive Bundesliga club in the space of a few years.

Whilst Hoffenheim might lack tradition and a proper fan base, their ambition, hunger and will to win through sustainable means are qualities befitting any traditional club, big or small. And through their attractive way of football, they have gathered fans from not just Germany, but all over the world as well.

Although they didn't get a fairytale finish to their first Bundesliga season and ended up seventh - and even though they just survived relegation last year by the skin of their teeth, thanks to some prudent ownership and some crafty management - the villagers can be proud of their local team, who have put Hoffenheim on the map, once and for all.     


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