Back at the blast furnace

Historie | People at thyssenkrupp | MSV football legend visits former colleagues at thyssenkrupp Duisburg mill

He was a “waterman” at the blast furnace and a man-to-man marker at MSV. Duisburg football legend Joachim Hopp (49) always gave his all, even managing to combine his strenuous job at the blast furnace with a career in football.

He recently visited his old place of work, invited there by Ali Güzel, once “Hoppi’s” colleague at the blast furnace and now a works council member at Steel Europe. On the blast furnace pouring platform, next to a red-hot stream of molten pig iron, they reminisced about old times. Hopp worked in the blast furnace cooling department as a so-called “waterman”. His job was to check the furnace for hot spots and inspect the pipe systems.

It was hard graft at times, especially during repair work with the red-hot slag bubbling right in front of me.

Joachim Hopp, Duisburg football legend

He worked alternate shifts: early shift, late shift, night shift. “But when I started playing for the MSV Duisburg amateurs, that couldn’t continue, so I asked my supervisor to put me on early shifts only. Like everybody else there he was an MSV fan so it wasn’t a problem. For me it meant working the 5.30 am to 1.30 pm shift at Thyssen before heading off for training,” says the Duisburg stalwart. For years he was a full-time steelworker, part-time footballer. “But when coach Ewald Lienen and Chairman Dieter Fischdick wanted to take me on as a full-time professional in 1993 my bosses told me: ‘Hoppi, call it a day at the blast furnace.’” Hopp completed his final early shift and henceforth devoted all his energies to MSV. The fans’ favorite ended his professional career in 1997. Today he works for a Duisburg-based business and for a while he coached Hamborn 07.

Yüksel Kilic was therefore particularly pleased at Hoppi’s visit. The 29-year-old is a second-year apprentice process mechanic at Steel Europe and used to play for Hamborn 07. His coach at the time: Joachim Hopp. “Blast furnace and football – seems like it’s a good combination,” says the Duisburg football legend.

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