Salihovic: ''I remain part of the TSG family''

Sejad Salihovic defined an era at TSG Hoffenheim. He wore the blue jersey for nine years before moving to Chinese Super League club BJ Renhe in the summer of 2015 and then returning to Germany with Hamburg. In April of this year, the former Bosnian international (49 caps) officially called time on his playing career. The Baden derby against SC Freiburg was the perfect occasion for the club to say thank you one more time to ''Sali'' for his services over the years.

Sali, you received a standing ovation from the fans as a sent off. What did this moment mean for you?

Sejad Salihovic: ''It was a pure goosebumps moment. Images of all the brilliant moments I had during my time here came rushing back. The club and its fans are a big part of my life and will always have a special place in my heart. There was a lot of talk of a testimonial match but, on the one hand, I didn't need one and, on the other, there wasn't really the opportunity for one. Anyone who knows me well knows that I've never been the type to take themselves too seriously and want to be in the spotlight. I was always a team player. I had a really fantastic career here. Now is the time for new things. We experienced a lot of amazing and emotional moments together and I'm very grateful to the club's management for inviting me to come here for Sunday's match to have another once-in-a-lifetime experience.''

You experienced a lot throughout your nine-year spell at TSG. How do you look back on this time?

Sejad Salihovic: ''It was an exciting time. We were able to celebrate a lot of success and, since then, everything that's gone on here has been fantastic. It's great to know that I was there right when it all started. Choosing to end my career wasn't an easy decision to make, but deep down I knew the time had come. There are always points in life where you have to make hard decisions.''

You may no longer be ''Sali'' the footballer, but do you remain loyal to TSG?

Sejad Salihovic: ''As I said before, TSG is an important part of my life. I have lots of close ties in the region and have already been able to do some marketing and communication work with the club, so I definitely remain part of the TSG family. But I don't want to miss the opportunity to say another thank you to all those who supported me here: the fans, the staff, the board and, above all, Dietmar Hopp, who was always there for me down the years and always gave me strength through the trust he placed in me.''

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