- Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Infobox Football club
clubname = Bayer Leverkusen
fullname = TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen e. V.,
Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fußball
nickname = "Werkself" ("Factory Squad")
founded = 1904
LTU Arena, Düsseldorf(temporary) BayArena, Leverkusen,
formerly "Ulrich-Haberland-Stadion"(permanent)| capacity = 22,500
chairman = Wolfgang Holzhäuser
manager = flagicon|Germany
league = Bundesliga
season = 2007/08
position = Bundesliga, 7th
Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fußball is a German football club based in
Leverkusen, North Rhine-Westphalia. It is the most well-known department of TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen, a sports clubwhose members also participate in athletics, gymnastics, basketballand other sports.
Origins and the early years
November 27, 1903, Wilhelm Hauschild wrote a letter – signed by 107 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 July 1, 1904, "Turn- und Spielverein Bayer 04 Leverkusen" was founded.
May 31, 1907, a separate football department was formed within the club. In the culture of sports in Germanyat the time, there was significant animosity between gymnasts and other types of athletes. Eventually this contributed to a split within the club: on June 8, 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 and 1. Bundesliga
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 half a century ago 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 success through shrewd, far-sighted player acquisitions.
German reunificationin 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 Jorginhoand 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 honours in 1993, with a 1-0 win in the German Cup over a surprising Hertha Berlin amateur squad. 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 back 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 cocainescandal that also cost him his ascent to the role of the national team coach.
The Almost Champions
The team earned a series of top four finishes from 1997 to 2002 that included four second place finishes. 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 minnows Unterhaching to win the title, but an own goal by Ballack helped send the team to a crushing (0:2) 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 Dortmundswept ahead with three consecutive victories in its final matches. The 2002 season has been dubbed the "Treble Horror", as Bayer Leverkusen were also beaten in the German Cup final (2:4) by Schalke 04, and lost the UEFA Champions League final to Real Madrid (1:2). Still, the team earned the honour as the first team ever to reach the UEFA Champions League final without winning a national championship before. They even had to qualify first for the participation in that year's UEFA Champions League.
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 Augenthalertook 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, they would go on to win the group, but were defeated in the first knockout round by eventual champions
Liverpool F.C.The club finished 6th 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
UEFA Cupmatch-up. Former German national team coach Rudi Völlerwas named as caretaker manager. Michael Skibbe, who was Rudi Völler's assistant coach at the national team, was named as his successor in October. Skibbe turned their season around and guided the club to a 5th place finish, earning another UEFA Cupplace.
The 2007-08 season was not a successful one for Bayer Leverkusen despite a good start to the seaon. 7 out of the last 10 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 Berlin, the Leverkusen fans caused a lot of commotion. Not only were they yelling their trainer to leave but Ultra fans who had seen enough, set fire to their Jerseys which were then thrown onto the field. Michael Skibbe was fired in the afternoon of the
21 May 2008. The reason for his departure was due to the fact that Leverkusen's goal of the season, to qualify for the UEFA Cup, was not reached.
In contrast to many other German football clubs, which hold close ties to their proletarian roots, Bayer Leverkusen strives for a clean, family-friendly image. The
BayArenahas the reputation of being one of the most family-friendly football stadiums in Germany.
Unfortunately, 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
old schoolclubs denounce Bayer Leverkusen as a "plastic club", without traditions or a committed fan base, existing solely as a creature of their rich pharmaceutical company sponsor. This is not unknown in football and other famous clubs such as PSV Eindhoven, Parma and Sochaux share a similar reputation.
German Cup: 1993
UEFA Cup: 1988
*Bundesliga runners-up: 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002
*German Cup finalist: 2002
*UEFA Champions League finalist: 2002
Fs player|no=24|nat=Czech Republic|name=
Michal Kadlec|pos=DF|other=on loan from Sparta Prague[cite web| title=Bayer legt mit Kadlec nach | work=kicker.de | url=http://www.kicker.de/news/fussball/bundesliga/startseite/artikel/382024 | accessdate=August 19 | accessyear=2008]
Players out on loan
"For recent transfers, see
List of German football transfers summer 2008."
Bayer Leverkusen's "Squad of the Century"
May 21, 2004, "Bayer Leverkusen" announced their "Bayer Leverkusen Squad of the Century".
Jorginho; flagicon|Germany Jens Nowotny; flagicon|Brazil Lúcio; flagicon|Brazil Juan (Defenders)
Ulf Kirsten; flagicon|Germany Rudi Völler(Strikers)
*flagicon|Germany Bernd Schneider
*flagicon|Brazil Zé Roberto
*flagicon|Bosnia and Herzegovina
*flagicon|Netherlands Erik Meijer
Arne Larsen Økland
Richest football clubs
* [http://www.bayer04.de/ Official team site] (German & English)
* [http://www.abseits-soccer.com/clubs/leverkusen.html The Abseits Guide to German football]
* [http://www.werkself.de/ Werkself fanpage] --- Bayer Leverkusen's unofficial forum, very popular, and even frequented by ex-players, including "Der Rudi", former goalkeeper Rüdiger Vollborn.
* [http://www.ultras-leverkusen.de/ Supporters of Leverkusen]
* [http://www.bayerfans04.de/ Bayerfans04 fanpage]
* [http://www.leverkusen.com/fussball Internet Initiative Leverkusen fanpage]
* [http://www.bayer04.pl/ Polish fanpage]
* [http://www.resultsfromfootball.com/bundesliga-team/bayerleverkusen.html Leverkusen statistics]
* [http://www.football-lineups.com/games/?campaign=15.73 Bayer Leverkusen formations at football-lineups]
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