IIn the ambulance, Wataru Endo was responsive again. On the way to the clinic, the captain of the Bundesliga soccer club VfB Stuttgart but not yet seen the picture of his teammates from the dressing room, which they dedicated to him on Instagram on Tuesday evening. It shows them holding Endo’s number three shirt towards the camera, jubilant.
Endo was plagued by severe headaches after previously beating in the game Hertha BSC had collided with Ivan Sunjic’ head in the 77th minute and even temporarily lost consciousness. The Japanese had to be treated on the pitch for five minutes. It was only in the ambulance that he found out that his team had won the game 2-1 – in the eighth minute of stoppage time with a header from Konstantinos Mavropanos.
With the third league home win in a row, Stuttgart left the relegation place that Berlin now holds. “We’re happy that we won the game for Wataru,” said Waldemar Anton afterwards. You could tell how deeply affected he was by the incident. He had seen Endo’s knockout first hand. A moment of shock for everyone. After that, the team had to pick themselves up again.
Endo now discharged from hospital
The Stuttgart survived the difficult phase without conceding a goal. “The players regained their composure quicker than I did,” admitted VfB sporting director Sven Mislintat. In the last few minutes, they combined again in a concentrated and handsome manner through midfield. And could have taken the lead in the first minute of added time through substitute Enzo Millot, but Hertha goalkeeper Oliver Christensen saved the header.
The goal came anyway, after a corner kick Mavropanos headed the ball powerfully into the goal, then ripped his shirt off like a madman and celebrated the winning goal in front of the Cannstatt curve. VfB have already developed a certain routine for late goals. They also scored the goal with the last action against Augsburg.
This time, however, interim VfB coach Michael Wimmer decided not to join the cheering and sweaty players and get the ovations of the fans. Only when he found out that Endo had a severe concussion and that the Japanese hadn’t broken anything was he able to go back to analyzing the game. “I would prefer less spectacle,” the 42-year-old later admitted. But of course he’s happy that his players have the conviction and courage to believe in victory until the end.
Wimmer plays a bit more offensively than his predecessor Pellegrino Matarazzo, above all he fills the flanks with fast and tricky players like Silas Katompa Mvumpa and Tomas Tiago, who also prepared Serhou Guirassy to make it 1-0 with a dream pass (3rd). The game next Saturday in Leverkusen will be Wimmer’s last as head coach for the time being. How things will continue with him will be decided during the winter break. After all, Endo could probably play for Japan at the World Cup in Qatar, it was said. He was allowed to leave the hospital on Wednesday.