There are plenty of fascinating details to mull over ahead of Heidenheim's Friday-night Matchday 20 kickstarter against in-form Borussia Dortmund, and the fact that trio Jan-Niklas Beste, Lennard Maloney and Patrick Mainka all at one point kitted out in their opponent's colours adds plenty of extra flavour to a game that is expected to be high on entertainment.
Heidenheim have only ever competed in one other Friday fixture in their very brief Bundesliga history, and that also came against BVB on Matchday 3. Maloney, Mainka and Beste were all heavily involved in that blockbuster, which saw the reigning second division champions fight back from 2-0 down to earn thier very first point in Germany's top division.
As this weekend's hosts - currently holding their own in 10th place in the standings - look to defend an impressive home record of five unbeaten games, and six matches without defeat in total, their former Dortmund crew are expected to come to the fore once more as the recently promoted side look to halt their visitors' successful 2024 sequence at the Voith-Arena. bundesliga.com puts the Heidenheim trio's collective Dortmund pasts under the spotlight.
Watch: When Heidenheim fought back against BVB for their first Bundesliga point
USMNT player Maloney - Heidenheim's very first senior international - may have progressed through the ranks of, and made his pro debut at Union Berlin - the club from the city of his birth - but it was at Dortmund where he would later go on to earn his Bundesliga debut as a 21-year-old. The move to the Black-and-Yellows in 2020 came via a loan at Chemnitzer FC, then in the German third tier.
In the 2020/21 campaign, Maloney featured 34 times for BVB's second team as they won promotion from the fourth division, while in October the following season the highly-versatile 6'2" defender/defensive midfielder made his debut as a substitute for the seniors under coach Marco Rose in a victory against Arminia Bielefeld.
Following a further 27 games in the third tier for Borussia's second team, the man they call 'Lenny' opted to switch to Heidenheim, and he played a hugely important role in midfield for Frank Schmidt's men as they achieved Bundesliga promotion of the first time.
As debut seasons in the Bundesliga go, Beste is enjoying breathtaking one. With an incredible 12 goal involvements (five goals, seven assists) helping Heidenheim hold their own in mid-table in their first-ever Bundesliga campaign, their 25-year-old left-sided attacker is one of the division's most recognisable players. The North Rhine-Westphalia native famously netted Heidenheim's first Bundesliga goal and he has had fans at the Voith-Arena in raptures with some superb displays this term.
Beste became a Dortmund boy back in 2007 at the age of eight and rose through the youth ranks, becoming an U17 youth champion with BVB in 2015 and U19 champion in 2017. He made his senior bow for the side in a DFB Cup first-round match in August 2017 under Peter Bosz.
Further squad call-ups followed for a UEFA Europa League double header against Atalanta in 2018 and, although Beste looked to be headed for a prolonged stint in Dortmund's second team, he opted to leave the club and take his chances at Werder Bremen.
Watch: Beste hits winner in Heidenheim's win against Union Berlin
Heidenheim's captain since 2021, and now in his sixth season at the club, Mainka was a Bielefeld academy graduate before honing his young leadership skills at Werder, where he played 35 times for the club's second team.
A switch to Dortmund came about in 2016, with the defender agreeing terms on a two-year deal. Mainka eventually spent three seasons wearing the Schwarzgelben colours and amassed a total of 86 games and nine goals with the club's second team. He was even made skipper, a role he has embraced throughout his career.
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