SV Darmstadt 98 have renamed their stadium in honour of a fan who passed away in March due to cancer.
The Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor will be known as the Jonathan-Heimes-Stadion am Böllenfalltor for the 2016-17 season after Johnny Heimes, club and cult hero, passed away after a 12-year battle with cancer.
Merck gave up the naming rights for the season as a gesture to all Johnny did to the club. Merck board member, Kai Beckmann, said in a statement released by the technology company: “We were ready and willing to make this gesture and we’re delighted that we’ve been able to do so in agreement with all parties.”
Johnny’s father was a former employee at Merck, and it was his idea that led to Merck temporarily changing the name of Darmstadt’s stadium.
A cult hero
Johnny Heimes was a huge fan of the Bundesliga side, and had raised thousands of euros for numerous charities. Johnny sadly passed away from cancer at the age of 26, after being diagnosed when he was 14-years-old.
Along with tennis player Andrea Petkovic, Johnny and Andrea set up their own charity, ‘DUMUSSTKÄMPFEN’. Established in February 2015, DUMUSSTKÄMPFEN aimed to help young people living with cancer.
Heimes was a cult hero at Darmstadt, joining the squad in their promotion celebrations after the then 2. Bundesliga side won promotion to the top tier of German football after a 33-year absence from the Bundesliga.
When Johnny passed away in March, Darmstadt players wore black armbands with the motto “You’ve got to fight, all is not lost” in memory of Johnny, and both Darmstadt and Augsburg fans held banners and tifos in remembrance for Johnny.
Speaking to Bundesliga.com shortly after Johnny’s death, club captain, Aytac Sulu, said: “We’re playing in Johnny’s living room now, which is a motivation in itself."
He added, "We want to stay up again this season and this connection will spur us on even more. Every Darmstadt fan who identifies with us identifies with Johnny too.”