Heidenheim coach to miss final game of the season after surgery

Heidenheim coach Frank Schmidt gestures during the German Bundesliga soccer match between SC Freiburg and 1. FC Heidenheim at Europa-Park Stadium. Tom Weller/dpa

Heidenheim coach Frank Schmidt will miss the final Bundesliga game of the season next weekend against relegation-threatened Cologne after he had to undergo an ankle surgery, the club said on Sunday.

The operation, which will be followed by several days in hospital, "cannot be carried out on any other day after the end of the season," Heidenheim said.

Schmidt said that the reason for the operation was a broken ankle from his time as a player at Alemannia Aachen and the resulting
arthrosis with increasing pain.

"This operation had actually already been planned last year. However, due to our promotion to the Bundesliga, I postponed it," he explained. Schmidt expect to be ready to come back on July 1, when Heidenheim will start preparing for the new season.

Assistant coach Bernhard Raab will take over Schmidt's role for the match against Cologne on Sunday.

Heidenheim played their first-ever season in the Bundeslisga and were a big surprise with a strong performance.

Ahead of the final matchday of the season, they are still a candidate to finish eight, which could become a Conference League spot if Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen complete a domestic double by winning the German Cup against Kaiserslautern on May 25.