There were numerous heart-warming moments in the Bundesliga in 2016, each offering a reminder of the emotional impact football can have on everyday lives. Here we recap three of the standout occasions...
The Jonathan-Heimes-Stadion am Böllenfalltor (September 2016)
How we reported it at the time: In an incredible gesture, SV Darmstadt 98 have renamed their stadium the Jonathan-Heimes-Stadion am Böllenfalltor in commemoration of deceased supporter Johnny Heimes.
Heimes was a former tennis prodigy and much-loved fan, whose battle with cancer proved to be one of the inspirations behind the Lilies’ successful bid for promotion to the Bundesliga in 2014/15.
He tragically passed away in March at the age of 26, but the club have honoured his memory by renaming their tradition-laden home in tribute to him, with premium sponsor, the science and technology company Merck, forgoing their naming rights to the arena for the rest of this season.
Watch: Darmstadt's renaming of their stadium as the Jonathan-Heimes-Stadion am Böllenfalltor was one of 2016's most touching moments:
Salomon Kalou's goalscoring return (November 2016)
How we reported it at the time: Kalou’s difficulties weren’t simply the ones often associated with professional footballers - injuries, loss of form, friction with a coach - his troubles were human ones. Kalou’s father Antoine died of a heart attack in August. Just two weeks later, his aunt passed away as well.
Instead of preparing for the new season, the goal-getter spent time back in the Cote d’Ivoire mourning with relatives.
He missed the start of Hertha’s season. When he returned to Berlin and began to train again, Kalou experienced back trouble that kept him from playing for several weeks more.
Watch: Kalou is one of the Bundesliga's model athletes:
Rafinha and Russ embrace (October 2016)
How we reported it at the time: On Saturday, Marco Russ, who has been undergoing treatment for cancer, was given a warm reception by his team-mates and the FC Bayern München players at the Commerzbank Arena, as his side rescued an unlikely draw against the champions.
Watch: Rafinha and Russ share a heart-warming hug prior to Bayern's 2-2 draw in Frankfurt on Matchday 7: