Signed and sealed: Henry Kissinger (m.), flanked by Greuther Fürth president Helmut Hack (l.) and ERGO Direkt CEO Peter M. Endres
Signed and sealed: Henry Kissinger (m.), flanked by Greuther Fürth president Helmut Hack (l.) and ERGO Direkt CEO Peter M. Endres

Fürth's most famous ambassador

Munich - They might be called the Clover Leaves, but the Bundesliga's bottom club Greuther Fürth have not enjoyed much luck so far in their debut Bundesliga season.

Life-long fan

A flying visit from Fürth's most famous son early on in the campaign did nothing to improve the freshly promoted Franconian side's fortunes either. For former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger however, the visit to the Trolli Arena last September for the Matchday 3 meeting with Schalke 04 was the fulfilment of a long-held dream.

Kissinger, who served under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, was born in Fürth and as a boy regularly watched his beloved club, before his Jewish family fled Nazi Germany for the United States in 1938.

The 89-year-old won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for his role in the Paris Peace Accords, which helped secure a ceasefire in and the USA's subsequent withdrawal from Vietnam. While in office, he continued to follow the fortunes of Fürth, whom as well as supporting he had also once played for at youth level. "My father always told me opera visits were better than going to the Ronhof [Fürth's former ground]," he said. "Whenever I went there, I always got into trouble when I got home. I'd always hoped they would be promoted."

Dream come true

In May 2012, he got his wish. Under coach Mike Büskens, Fürth took the Bundesliga 2 title to seal their place as the 52nd club to feature in Germany's national top flight in its nigh-on 50-year existence.

Kissinger had always said he would return to Fürth to watch his hometown club should they gain promotion to the Bundesliga. On 15 September 2012 he finally did so, for the visit of Bundesliga stalwarts FC Schalke 04.

Victory for Realpolitik

"I hope Fürth win the title," the former US National Security Advisor told the sold-out Trolli Arena before the game with a cheeky wink and a smile. "The Ronhof I know has changed a lot. I used to watch the game from the terraces, but I will be getting the VIP treatment today."

The hospitality may have been five-star but out on the pitch Schalke spoiled the party, winning 2-0 with goals from Julian Draxler and Lewis Holtby. That notwithstanding, it was an occasion Fürth's "most famous ambassador" would not have missed for anything.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge