The sun was shining.
The bosses were sitting in the stands in shorts and there were only a few seconds left to play on the grass.
It was 0-0 between Wattenscheid 09 and Hertha BSC when Michael Preetz shot the ball over the Hertha goal.
If he had scored, the Berliners would have relegated that Saturday in June 1996.
They saved themselves - and brought Preetz to him just a few weeks after his missed shot.
The beginning of a long and intimate relationship between the club and the former striker who rose to manager and most powerful man in 2009.
But on Sunday this came to an end after at least 25 years.
It was a turning point that those in charge of the Bundesliga team were forced to and which followed another disastrous appearance by the expensive team on Saturday evening at home against Werder Bremen.
The 1: 4 (1: 2) not only cost coach Bruno Labbadia, who had only started nine months ago, the job, but also Preetz.
Both still had a contract until 2022, both are now history.
Because you have to state that, as the club put it in a message, you are in a "serious situation" with 17 points after 18 games.
Friedrich, the new strong man?
Arne Friedrich, among others, should help to get out of this.
The former national player was hired as a "Performance Manager" in 2019 and was only promoted to sports director last November.
Friedrich, said managing director Carsten Schmidt on Sunday, was strong in opinion and had full confidence.
He is also involved in the search for a new trainer.
As far as this is concerned, you have a clear plan and rely on a quick solution.
"We want to have someone on the field on Tuesday," says Schmidt, "who welds the team together and enables them to win something at Eintracht Frankfurt over the weekend."
Michael Preetz (left) and Bruno Labbadia were released from Hertha
Together with the new coach, Schmidt then wants to decide whether Friedrich, as the new HR manager, should look for reinforcements in the last week of the winter transfer window.
You are “definitely active”, but also “believe in the quality of the team,” emphasized Schmidt.
One candidate for the coaching position is Pal Dardai, who was head coach from 2015 to 2019 and currently trains Hertha’s U16s.
There was already a conversation with the 44-year-old on Sunday morning.
He is especially respected by the appendix.
Ralf Rangnick, whose name was also mentioned on Sunday in the debate about a possible successor, told WELT that there would be no contact and that he could not say anything about it.
These are all hypotheses.
The club, however, was clear that the time to act had come.
There is talk of a lot of phone calls that have been made since Saturday evening.
Also from video conferences, personal conversations.
Within the presidium, but also within the supervisory board.
The exchange was lively.
On Saturday, reported managing director Schmidt, he realized that something had to happen.
The presidium turned to him because it wanted to know his perception.
“I gave it.
Then a decision was made that I might have given a little through my assessments.
The presidium then decided, ”said Schmidt.
He made it clear that it was not he who ultimately made the decision to part with Preetz, but rather the committee around President Werner Gegenbauer.
Nevertheless, less than two months after his inauguration, it is obvious what a weighty word Schmidt has to say.
He also informed the Tennor Group around Lars Windhorst, which has invested well over 300 million euros in Hertha, about the personnel decisions on Sunday morning.
Schmidt started on December 1, after having worked for four years as the head of the Sky TV station.
It was said at the time that he was loyal, eloquent and goal-oriented.
He himself said that he would come with clear ideas.
When every club employee received an online questionnaire at the beginning of the year in which the work processes, structures and management staff were to be assessed, it should have become clear to everyone in the club how serious Schmidt meant his new job.
The club made it clear that a strategy process had been started that is common for companies of this size.
But you could also judge it as if someone had started with Schmidt who is willing to break up old crusts - and to set a new direction in a club that would so much like to play in the concert of the big ones, but has stood for the lived average for years.
How much the appendix personified this with Preetz became clear on Saturday when around 250 fans demonstrated against the club leadership in front of the Berlin stadium a few hours before the game against Bremen.
“Eleven years of stagnation.
Two relegations, 13 coaches, scandals and nepotism.
It is enough.
Preetz out ”, it was written in large letters on a banner.
To understand, to realize how much the development at Hertha BSC has recently stagnated, you only need a quick look at the archive.
A year ago around this time, the Berliners were able to win 2-1 in Wolfsburg, but were not much better in the table with 22 points in 13th place.
The trainer at the time was Jürgen Klinsmann, who only took over the office in November 2019 and had previously been appointed to the supervisory board by the investor.
In February, Klinsmann finally announced his departure via Facebook.
When Klinsmann's diary was leaked and printed in “Sport Bild”, the chaos around the capital city club was perfect.
The 22-page work was a settlement with the management, the entire club top and many players.
Alexander Nouri followed Klinsmann as head coach before he was replaced by Labbadia after five points from four games.
In the past few weeks, when it became clear that Hertha was stagnating in terms of sport, quite a few felt reminded of Klinsmann's minutes, in which he denounced, among other things, "years of catastrophic neglect" and a lack of performance culture - and quite a few asked themselves : Was he evidently right about many of the assessments?
Source: Getty Images
The 3-0 win against Schalke 04 at the beginning of the year was not followed by any further signs of departure.
Against Arminia Bielefeld there was a 0: 1, 1. FC Köln a 0: 0, TSG Hoffenheim a 0: 3 - and against Werder the 1: 4.
There were sometimes lifeless, hardly inspiring appearances by a team that has many players with individual quality, such as Matheus Cunha, Jhon Cordoba or Lucas Tousart, but does not seem self-contained.
There is a lack of players who go ahead in phases like these, in which things are not going well, set signals and try to win games for themselves.
Far from the "Big City Club"
Ultimately, however, the latest performances fit into the image of the club, which is not only in a sporting crisis, but also in one of its identity.
Claim and self-image are one thing, but the reality of the “Big City Club” appointed by Windhorst is another.
How difficult it is for Hertha to push into higher spheres only recently became apparent in the search for a shirt sponsor.
We've already talked about Amazon and Tesla, and in the end it became a Berlin real estate company.
It remains to be seen whether various things will be easier in the future.
Two men no longer need to worry about ways out of the crisis - Bruno Labbadia and Michael Preetz.