EHL and German legend Moritz Fuerste played his final club game for UHC Hamburg on Sunday in a 4-3 loss against Harvestehuder THC in the German league.
It brought to a close an incredible career in which he won three Euro Hockey League titles with UHC in addition to Olympic and Indoor and Outdoor World Cup gold medals with the national team.
The league loss, which ended with Fuerste shown a yellow card 15 seconds before the end, was not quite the fairytale end but he can look back on a season in which UHC won their first national title with the national indoor success earlier this year.
So often, he was the figurehead and talisman for these teams and was named in the EHF Hall of Fame in 2017 following his retirement from international hockey.
Club hockey was always an important part of his life, starting at UHC at the age of four as part of a lifeline connection as he detailed in an EHF interview.
“My Dad took me to the hockey field long before; when I was one, I was watching with my mum and running around on the training ground. I was always part of the UHC family and thought of it as my second home, sometimes even my first!”
VHS footage of his youth at the club still exists of those early years when his love for the club – and the sport – were forged.
He spent one season outside of the club, joining Club de Campo in Madrid to learn Spanish in 2010/11. “I remember our first little games [at UHC]. We were really unsuccessful which we still laugh about! My club, UHC, always kept going and is always a big part of my heart. They were always there for me and I am happy to have given something back.”
With them, he has won three Euro Hockey League crowns, including the inaugural edition of the premier club competition in 2007/08.
“I would never compare titles or prizes because they all have their own history but the EHL is something I won with the people I grew up with, the group of my best friends, most of whom I see every day even when they stop playing.
“In 2008, it was amazing to reach something like that with my club where we have yet to win the German championship; it was very emotional and a very important step in my career!”
More than the titles, though, it was Fuerste’s sparkling personality that made him an icon of the sport. His spirit and passion shone through in every game, playing his part in so many big fightbacks, while his gleaming smile and sense of fun showed his passion.
He will be missed on the pitch but, in a Facebook post about his retirement, said that it may not be too long before we see him again.
“It’s hard for me to play in the UHC jersey for the last time but it’s the right time. I’d like to thank my family again. You made it possible for me to go this way.
“And if Emma and Lotta have half as much fun in hockey as I did, we’ll all see each other in a few years. As for the next stage, I am looking forward to it!”
EHL Hockey TV | Images: World SPort Pics