Cologne - With the start of the 2014/15 Bundesliga campaign edging ever closer, Off The Ball - bundesliga.com's quirky periodical - is on hand to bring you up to speed with the latest colourful off-pitch stories from Germany's top flight.

In this week's edition, Jürgen Klopp begrudgingly praises Borussia Dortmund's first-round DFB Cup opponents, a Bundesliga mascot finds a new home and a Hamburger SV star reveals his passion for poker...

He may have had a soft spot for VfB Stuttgart as a child, but Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp couldn't help but praise local rivals Stuttgarter Kickers after his side's DFB Cup first-round win against the third-division outfit on Saturday. “I used to be very fond of the Reds,” admitted the two-time German Head Coach of the Year. “But I'm a football fan first and foremost and I have to admit the Kickers played some great stuff today. They were brave, determined and good tactically.”

Hennes VIII, 1. FC Köln's mascot, has found a new home after joining a group of other goats at Cologne zoo. Every other week, Hennes will be whisked off on a ten-mile trip to Köln's RheinEnergieStadion for the newly-promoted outfit's home matches. However, Hennes' carer Jens Krause might be tempted to walk the billy goat to the stadium, as the animal appears to have gained a few pounds over the summer. “He's a bit tubby,” Krause told die Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. “He could do with a bit of a workout.”

Borussia Mönchengladbach star Max Kruse got over the disappointment of being left out of Germany's 2014 World Cup squad by finishing third at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas in June. It seems Hamburger SV left-back Marcell Jansen has now opted for a similar approach, having written a comment in a book promoting the popular card game. “Like in football you need to analyse your mistakes and try to cut them out in your next game,” he writes. “You have to make the right move at the right time to beat your opponent.” Sounds straightforward enough!