COLOGNE, Germany (AP) -- Long live Hennes the Eighth.
Cologne's popular club mascot, a 12-year-old goat, is stepping down after an 11-year reign due to health reasons.
Hennes, an ever-present at the team's games who had overseen two relegations, two promotions and a first European campaign in 25 years, has age-related osteoarthritis and will see out his remaining days at the local zoo.
''We do not want our club mascot ever having to stand in pain in the stadium,'' Cologne managing director Alexander Wehrle told the club website. ''After promotion and the upcoming new season, it is now the perfect conclusion and time for Hennes VIII to enjoy his retirement.''
Hennes is to be given an official farewell at Cologne's season opening on Sunday, when his successor will be presented in front of thousands of fans.
Hennes could have continued attending games as club mascot, but his condition limits his movement and it was decided that he had already done enough for the club.
''As with people with osteoarthritis, this can be more or less painful, depending on the weather conditions. However, it definitely limits him,'' zoo director Theo Pagel said.
Cologne has had its famous mascot since 1950, when it was gifted a former circus goat and named it after coach Hennes Weisweiler.
The ninth Hennes is a 1-year-old goat of a traditional but endangered breed. The incumbent is already living at the zoo and the club says he is visually similar to the original Hennes.
''But since he is almost in his teens, Hennes IX will grow and get stronger,'' Pagel said.
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