Bayer 04 Leverkusen
|Full name||Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fußball GmbH|
|Founded||1 July 1904|
|Head Coach||Roger Schmidt|
|Website||Club home page|
Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fußball GmbH, also known as Bayer 04 Leverkusen [ˌbaɪ̯ɐ ˈleːvɐˌkuːzn̩], Bayer Leverkusen, Leverkusen or simply Bayer, is a German football club based in Leverkusen, North Rhine-Westphalia. The club plays in the Bundesliga, the top tier of the German football league system, and hosts matches at the BayArena.
The club was founded in 1904 by employees of the German pharmaceutical company Bayer, whose headquarters are in Leverkusen and from which the club draws its name. It was formerly the best-known department of TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen, a sports club whose members also participate in athletics, gymnastics, basketball and other sports including the RTHC Bayer Leverkusen (rowing, tennis and hockey). In 1999 the football department was separated from the sports club and is now a separate entity formally called Bayer 04 Leverkusen GmbH.
Origins and early years
On 27 November 1903 Wilhelm Hauschild wrote a letter – signed by 170 of his fellow workers – to his employer, the Friedrich Bayer and Co., seeking the company's support in starting a sports club. The company agreed to support the initiative, and on 1 July 1904 Turn- und Spielverein Bayer 04 Leverkusen was founded. On 31 May 1907 a separate football department was formed within the club. In the culture of sports in Germany at the time, there was significant animosity between gymnasts and other types of athletes. Eventually this contributed to a split within the club: on 8 June 1928 the footballers formed a separate association – Sportvereinigung Bayer 04 Leverkusen – that also included the handball and fistball players, athletics, and boxing, while the gymnasts carried on as TuS Bayer 04 Leverkusen. SV Bayer 04 Leverkusen took with them the club's traditional colours of red and black, with the gymnasts adopting blue and yellow.
Through this period, and into the 1930s, SV Bayer 04 Leverkusen played third and fourth division football. In 1936, they earned promotion to the second highest class of play of the period. That was also the year that the club wore the familiar "Bayer" cross for the first time. They made their first appearance in upper league play in 1951, in the Oberliga West and played there until 1956, after which they were relegated. SV Bayer 04 Leverkusen would not return to the upper leagues until 1962, just one season before the formation of Germany's new professional league, the Bundesliga. The next year saw the club in the Regionalliga West, tier II, where their performances over the next few seasons left them well down the league table.
2. Bundesliga to Bundesliga, UEFA Cup, and DFB-Pokal
SV Bayer 04 Leverkusen made something of a breakthrough in 1968, by winning the division title, but were unable to advance through the playoff round to the first division. They were relegated again in 1973, but made a quick return to what was now called the 2. Bundesliga after just one season spent in the third division. Four years later, the team handily secured a place in the Bundesliga to start to play there in the 1979–80 season.
By the mid-1980s, SV Bayer 04 Leverkusen had played their way into the upper half of the league table and were well-established there by the end of the decade. It was during this time, in 1984, that the two-halves of the club that had parted ways over a half century earlier were re-united as TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen e.V. The new club took red and white as their colours.
In addition to becoming an established Bundesliga side, the club earned its first honours with a dramatic win in the 1988 UEFA Cup. Down (0–3) to Espanyol after the first leg of the final, they drew even in the return match and then captured the title (3–2) on penalty kicks.
That same year, long-time Bayer Leverkusen executive Reiner Calmund became the general manager of the club. This is regarded as one of the most important moves in the club's history, as Calmund ushered in a decade and a half of the club's greatest successes through shrewd, far-sighted player acquisitions.
After the German reunification in 1990, Reiner Calmund was quick to sign East German stars Ulf Kirsten, Andreas Thom, and Jens Melzig. The three players would become instant crowd favourites, and make significant contributions to the team. Calmund also established groundbreaking contacts in Brazilian football, befriending Juan Figer, one of Brazil's most powerful player agents. Over the next few years, budding superstars, such as Jorginho and Paulo Sérgio, joined the team, as did Czech star Pavel Hapal. They also signed charismatic players, such as Bernd Schuster, and Rudi Völler, helping to ensure the team's popularity and growing success.
The club captured its next honour in 1993, with a 1–0 win in the German Cup over a surprising Hertha Berlin amateur squad on 12 June 1993. In the following season, in a game also known for its 45 m "German Goal of the Year" by Schuster (a goal which was later also named "Goal of the Decade"), Bayer 04 played against Eintracht Frankfurt early in the season, and, as both a "tip of the hat" to their own history as well as an attempt to perhaps upset the Frankfurt team, Bayer played in its new 3rd colors, which were old-fashioned red and black stripes. (The jerseys were similar to the ones Frankfurt generally wore at the time.) This proved so popular with the fans that, very shortly thereafter, the team reverted to its "retro" colors of red and black, colors used on all home jerseys since then.
After a near disaster in 1996 when the club faced a relegation battle, Bayer Leverkusen established itself as a powerful side, offering a technically pleasing offensive style of play under new coach Christoph Daum, who was also helped by the signing of players such as Lúcio, Emerson, Zé Roberto, and Michael Ballack. Daum was later to be famously fired for a cocaine scandal that also cost him his ascent to the role of the national team coach.
The Almost Champions
The team earned a series of four second-place finishes from 1997 to 2002. The finishes of 2000 and 2002 were heart-breaking for supporters as on both occasions the team had the Bundesliga title within its grasp. In 2000, Bayer Leverkusen needed only a draw against Unterhaching to win the title, but an own goal by Ballack helped send the team to a crushing 2–0 defeat, while Bayern Munich clinched the title with a (3–1) victory over Werder Bremen. Two years later, the club surrendered a five-point lead atop the league table by losing two of its last three matches while Borussia Dortmund swept ahead with three consecutive victories in its final matches. The 2002 season has been dubbed the "Treble Horror", as Bayer Leverkusen were also beaten 4–2 in the German Cup final by Schalke 04, and lost the UEFA Champions League final 2–1 to Real Madrid, which also led to some of the English-language media dubbing them "Neverkusen". Leverkusen was the first team to reach the final of the UEFA Champions League without ever winning a national championship.
The club went through startling reversals of fortune in the next two seasons. In the 2002 offseason, the team lost influential midfield stars Michael Ballack, and Zé Roberto, to archrivals Bayern Munich. The team flirted with relegation through most of the 2002–03 season leading to the firing of Klaus Toppmöller, who had coached the team during its most successful year, and he was replaced by the inexperienced Thomas Hörster. Charismatic coach Klaus Augenthaler took up the reins in the last two games of the season and helped avoid disaster with a win over his previous club Nuremberg. He then led Bayer Leverkusen to a third-place finish and a Champions League place the following year.
That following season's run in the Champions League saw them get some measure of revenge on Real Madrid, opening their group stage campaign with a 3–0 rout of the Spanish giants, helping Leverkusen to win the group. Leverkusen were defeated in the first knockout round by eventual champions Liverpool F.C.. The club finished sixth during the 2004–05 season, and would enter the UEFA Cup the following season.
Early in 2005, Augenthaler was in turn fired as manager after the club got off to their worst Bundesliga start in over twenty years, with only one win in their first four league matches and a 0–1 home loss to CSKA Sofia in the first leg of their 2005–06 match-up. Former German national team manager Rudi Völler, who had been named sporting director prior to the season, took charge of five matches as caretaker manager. Michael Skibbe, who was Rudi Völler's assistant coach with the national team, was named as his successor in October 2005. Skibbe turned their season around and guided the club to a sixth-place finish in 2006, earning another UEFA Cup place, and then repeated that feat with a fifth place Bundesliga finish in 2007.
The 2007–08 season was not a successful one for Bayer Leverkusen despite a good start to the season. Five out of the last ten season games were lost to clubs in the lower half of the table. Michael Skibbe was heavily criticised towards the end of the season after he continuously changed his starting line up. Bayer Leverkusen also lost a lot of their support towards the end of the season. In the 1–2 home loss against Hertha BSC, the Leverkusen fans caused much commotion. Fans chanted for the sacking of Skibbe, while some Ultras, who had seen enough, set fire to their jerseys and threw them onto the field. Michael Skibbe was sacked soon thereafter, leaving the club on 21 May 2008, with club officials stating that his departure was due to the failure to qualify for the following season's UEFA Cup group stage.
The 2008–09 season got off to a great start for Bayer Leverkusen under new manager Bruno Labbadia, who they had acquired from 2.Bundesliga club SpVgg Greuther Fürth. As the season progressed however, the team failed to achieve any wins against top clubs in the Bundesliga. Leverkusen did manage to reach the German Cup Final on 30 May 2009 in Berlin, but fell 0–1 to Werder Bremen. Leverkusen finished the season in ninth place in the Bundesliga table and Labbadia moved to Hamburger SV in June 2009. Shortly thereafter, Leverkusen presented Jupp Heynckes as their new manager, who had previously managed Bayern Munich after Jürgen Klinsmann's departure.
In contrast to many other German football clubs, which hold close ties to their working-class roots, Bayer Leverkusen strives for a clean, family-friendly image. The BayArena has the reputation of being one of the most family-friendly football stadiums in Germany. Ironically, Bayer 04 was the first Bundesliga club whose fans identified themselves as Ultras and the city of Leverkusen is one of the old industrial cities of Germany.
Bayer Leverkusen is perceived by some to have an ongoing image problem of a different sort. Although they are a financially healthy club with a stable of strong players, many fans of the traditional clubs denounce Bayer Leverkusen as being a "plastic club" without traditions or a committed fan base, existing solely as a creation of their rich pharmaceutical company sponsor – Bayer AG. As a result, the club and their fans have started to emphasize their industrial origins with pride, calling themselves "Werkself" (Eng. "Factory team", "Millhanders") or "Pillendreher" (Eng. "Tablet twisters").
However, Bayer Leverkusen's corporate origins are far from unique. Other clubs including PSV Eindhoven, FC Carl Zeiss Jena and Sochaux share a similar reputation of being works teams. As distinguished from the various Red Bull teams (Salzburg, New York and Leipzig) which has been established or redefined in the recent past primarily for commercial reasons, the formation of Bayer Leverkusen was motivated by the idea of promoting the living conditions of local factory workers early in the 20th century. In view of this tradition UEFA allows Bayer Leverkusen to use the brand name Bayer in European club competitions while disallowing such naming practices most notably to Red Bull Salzburg.
- Winners: 1978–79
- Runners-up: 1993
- Winners: 1987–88
- Runners-up: 2001–02
- German Under 19 championship
- Champions: 1986, 2000, 2007
- Runners-up: 1995, 2001, 2003, 2010
- German Under 17 championship
- Champions: 1992, 2016
- Under 19 Bundesliga West
- Champions: 2007, 2010
|UEFA Champions League||94||36||19||39||133||154||−21||38.30|
|UEFA Europa League||92||43||23||26||141||85||+56||46.74|
|UEFA Cup Winners' Cup||6||3||2||1||15||8||+7||50.00|
For recent transfers, see List of German football transfers summer 2016
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Players out on loan
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
- Lori Polster (1950)
- Raimond Schwab (1950–51)
- Franz Strehle (1951–53)
- Hans-Josef Kretschmann (1953–56)
- Emil Melcher (1956–57)
- Edmund Conen (1957–59)
- Theo Kirchberg (1959–60)
- Erich Garske (1960–62)
- Fritz Pliska (1962–65)
- Theo Kirchberg (1965–71)
- Gero Bisanz (1971–73)
- Friedhelm Renno (1973–74)
- Manfred Rummel (1974–75)
- Radoslav Momirski (1976–76)
- Willibert Kremer (1 July 1976–22 Nov 81)
- Gerhard Kentschke (23 Nov 1981–30 June 82)
- Dettmar Cramer (1 July 1982–30 June 85)
- Erich Ribbeck (1 July 1985–30 June 88)
- Rinus Michels (1 July 1988–13 April 89)
- Jürgen Gelsdorf (13 April 1989–30 May 91)
- Peter Hermann (31 May 1991–30 June 91)
- Reinhard Saftig (1 July 1991–4 April 93)
- Dragoslav Stepanović (4 April 1993–7 April 95)
- Erich Ribbeck (10 April 1995–27 April 96)
- Peter Hermann (28 April 1996–30 June 96)
- Christoph Daum (1 July 1996–21 Oct 00)
- Rudi Völler (21 Oct 2000–11 Nov 00)
- Berti Vogts (12 Nov 2000–20 May 01)
- Klaus Toppmöller (1 July 2001–15 Feb 03)
- Thomas Hörster (16 Feb 2003–10 May 03)
- Klaus Augenthaler (13 May 2003–16 Sep 05)
- Rudi Völler (16 Sep 2005–9 Oct 05)
- Michael Skibbe (9 Oct 2005–21 May 08)
- Bruno Labbadia (1 July 2008–5 June 09)
- Jupp Heynckes (5 June 2009–1 July 11)
- Robin Dutt (1 July 2011–1 April 12)
- Sami Hyypiä (1 April 2012–5 April 14)
- Sascha Lewandowski (5 April 2014–1 July 14)
- Roger Schmidt (1 July 2014–present)
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- Official website (English) (German)
- Bayer 04 Leverkusen at UEFA
- Leverkusen statistics
- Bayer Leverkusen formations at football-lineups