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Peter Stöger leaves with his head held high at crucial juncture for Cologne | Andy Brassell

Peter Stöger’s name deserves to be cherished in the context of the club’s history, and it is sad that his tenure in Cologne fell apart like it did

In a way it ended just as it was supposed to, with honour. As Peter Stöger took his final bow in front of the Köln fans who had travelled to Schalke on Saturday, doffing his cap, he was given the warm send-off his work over the last four-and-a-half years has deserved. Teenage defender Tim Handwerker wasn’t the only player wiping tears from his eyes as they said goodbye to the coach.

When the team coach arrived back at Rhein-Energie Stadion on Saturday evening, a throng of fans applauded Stöger off as he emerged. Quite rightly. Only the legendary Hennes Weisweiler – who gave his name to the club’s famous billy goat mascot – had been at the helm longer. When Stöger’s immediate replacement Stefan Ruthenbeck, who steps up from the under-19s until the winter break at least, said: “I’m not trying to fill his shoes” after Sunday’s training session, he was not overstating. “They are too big to fill, anyway,” Ruthenbeck concluded.

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