Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bayer Leverkusen Greatest All-Time Team

UEFA Cup winner in 1988
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for the club.  The number 25 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the Champions' League.

Bayer Leverkusen 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.
Bayer Leverkusen have won one DFB-Pokal and one UEFA Cup. Their local rivals are 1. FC Köln.

Team
GK: Hans Jörg Butt  (Germany)
Known for taking penalty kicks, Hans Jörg Butt   scored 26 goals in the Bundesliga. He played for Hamburger SV, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich in his country.  During his career, Butt scored three times from the penalty spot against Juventus with three clubs. He had 4 caps.  He represented Germany as a backup keeper in both 2002 and 2010 World Cup Finals and Euro 2000. He made a single appearance in 2010.
Hans Jörg Butt
GK: Rüdiger Vollborn  (Germany)
During a 17-year professional career, Rüdiger Vollborn played solely for Bayer Leverkusen, appearing in a total of 401 Bundesliga games between 1982 and 2000.  He was the hero of the UEFA Cup victory with them in 1988, winning the penalty shootout against Espanyol. He was also their all-time appearance record holder.

GK: René Adler (Germany)
Adler started at age six playing for VfB Leipzig's youth side. After nine years for Leipzig, Adler joined the youth system of Bayer 04 Leverkusen in 2000. He signed a five-year contract at Bundesliga rivals Hamburger SV in 2012.  He made his debut for Germany on 11 October 2008 in a World Cup qualifier against Russia. Despite having been confirmed as Germany's main team goalkeeper for the World Cup, a serious rib injury prevented him from travelling to South Africa. 

RB: Jorginho (Brazil)
Regarded as one of the best full-backs of his generation, Jorginho started playing professionally for local side América Football Club, moving after just one season to Clube de Regatas do Flamengo.  In 1989, he joined Bayer 04 Leverkusen.  He signed with league giants FC Bayern Munich in 1992–93. Capped 64 times for the Brazilian national team, scoring three goals. He played at both the 1990 and the 1994 FIFA World Cups.  In the latter edition, he was named in the All-Star squad.

RB: Boris Živkovic (Croatia)
Živković played for FK Sarajevo, NK Marsonia (from Slavonski Brod). and NK Hrvatski Dragovoljac (from Siget, Zagreb). He then played for Bayer Leverkusen, including the 2002 UEFA Champions League Final.  In the summer of 2003, Živković  joined Portsmouth F.C.  Later, he played for VfB Stuttgart and Hajduk Split.  Capped 39 times and was part of the squad at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

CB: Christian Worns (Germany)
Worns started his career with Waldhof Mannheim but played the majority of his career with Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund. He also had a short stint with Paris SG.  He was capped 66 times by Germany.  He went to European Championship of 1992 and 2004, and the 1998 World Cup Finals.  He was bypassed by Jurgen Klinsmann for the 2006 World Cup Finals at home.
Christian Worns 

CB: Jens Nowotny (Germany)
Jens Nowotny started with Karlsruher SC. He played in nearly 300 official games with Bayer Leverkusen in one full decade, helping them reach the 2002 Champions League final.  He also played for Dinamo Zagreb.  He went to Euro 2000 and 2004, but missed the World Cup Finals in 2002.  In 2006, he was a part of the World Cup team, playing at home.  Capped 48 times.

CB: Thomas Hörster (Germany)
Thomas Hörster started with local Schwarz-Weiß Essen, but joined Bayer Leverkusen in 1977. After winning promotion to the Bundesliga in 1979, Hörster was an essential defensive unit for Bayer Leverkusen in the following 13 seasons.  He won the UEFA Cup in 1988.  He was capped 4 times. His debut came in the September of 1986 in a friendly against Denmark.

CB: Lucio (Brazil)
Lucio was the star of Brazil 2002 World Cup winning Team. He earned 105 caps for Brazil between 2000 and 2011.  He reached the Champions' League final with Bayer Leverkusen in 2002.  In 2004, he moved to Bayern Munich, where he won one German Cup and three Bundesliga titles. He also helped Inter Milan win the 2010 Champions League beating his former club Bayern Munich in the Final.
Lucio 
CB: Carsten Ramelow (Germany)
Known for his tough tackling and defensive positioning, Ramelow played professionally for Hertha BSC (1991-1995) and Bayer Leverkusen (1996 to 2008), during a 17 year career. The recipient of nearly 50 caps with Germany, he represented the nation at one World Cup and one European Championship.

LB: Jan Heintze (Denmark)
Heintze played with PSV Eindhoven, winning the European Cup in 1988.  He also played for Bayer Uerdingen and Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. He played 86 matches for Denmark between 1987 and 2002, but missed the 1992 European Championship because of an injury.  He was their captain for his last two years with the national team.

DM: Lars Bender (Germany)
Lars Bender started his career with 1860 Munich in 2006.  In 2009, he moved to Bayer Leverkusen, where he eventually became their captain.  He was part of the German under-19 side that won the 2008 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship. He and his twin brother Sven were named jointly as players of the tournament.  At the time of writing, he had 19 caps since 2011.
Lars Bender vs Atletico Madrid

DM: Simon Rolfes (Germany)
Rolfes started his career at Werder Bremen after progressing through their academy. Then, he played for Alemannia Aachen. In 2005, he moved to Bayer Leverkusen, where he would become their captain. He spent the next 10 seasons there. He was capped 28 times. He played in the Euro 2008, where Germany finished second.

DM/CM: Ze Roberto (Germany)
Zé Roberto made his name with Portuguesa in Brazil. He then joined Real Madrid in 1997 for a brief spell, where he helped them win La Liga, before moving back to Brazil to play for Flamengo.  However, his peak years were spent in the Bundesliga. In 1998, he joined German side Bayer Leverkusen and went to Bayern Munich in 2002.  Capped 84 times.  He went to France 1998 and Germany 2006.
Ze Roberto

LW: Dieter Herzog (Germany)
Herzog played more than 350 Bundesliga matches, scoring more than 60 goals for Fortuna Düsseldorf(from 1970 to 1976) and Bayer 04 Leverkusen (from 1976 to 1983)in his professional career.  He was capped 5 times.  He was a part of the 1974 FIFA World Cup winning team.  He played against Yugoslavia and Sweden in the Finals.  

LM: Knut Reinhardt (Germany)
Knut Reinhardt started in 1985–86 with Bayer 04 Leverkusen.  He won the UEFA Cup in 1988. In the 1991 summer he moved to Borussia Dortmund, where he remained for the next eight years. Reinhardt contributed with 47 matches to Borussia's back-to-back national championship conquests of 1995 and 1996. Capped 7 times between 1988 and 1992.

CM: Andrzej Buncol (Poland)
Andrzej Buncol played for clubs such as Ruch Chorzów, Legia Warszawa, FC Homburg (West Germany), Bayer Leverkusen (Germany) and Fortuna Düsseldorf (Germany). He played for the Polish national team.  He was a participant at the 1982 FIFA World Cup (where Poland won third place) and the 1986 FIFA World Cup. After the 1986 World Cup, he emigrated to West Germany.

CM: Michael Ballack (Germany)
Born in East Germany, Michael Ballack was the best German player of his generation. first made his name with Bayer Leverkusen, helping them to the Final of the Champions' League in 2002. On the same summer, he helped Germany reaching the Final of Japan/Korea 2002, but missing the Final game himself.  He moved to Bayern Munich after the World Cup Finals.  He also played for Chelsea before his retirement. He had 98 caps between 1999 and 2010. 
Ballack against Real Madrid at the Champions' League Final

AM/CM: Bernd Schneider
Nicknamed Schnix by fans and teammates, Schneider started out at his hometown club Carl Zeiss Jena in East Germany and made a name for himself during his decade-long stint at Bayer Leverkusen. He earned the nickname "The White Brazilian" for his dribbling and passing skills as well as his accurate free kicks and corners.  Capped 81 times for Die Mannschaft.  He was a key player at the World Cup Finals in 2006.

CM: Yıldıray Baştürk
Born in Germany of Turkish ancestry.  He is best remembered for his most successful years at Leverkusen. He was the playmaker of a great Leverkusen that finished second in the German league, the German Cup and the 2002 Champions League Final.  That same year, he led Turkey to the semi-final of the WC in Japan/Korea. He also played  Wattenscheid 09, VfL Bochum, Hertha BSC, VfB Stuttgart and English club Blackburn Rovers.

ST: Herbert Waas (Germany)
Waas spent most of his career with Bayer Leverkusen, with whom he won the UEFA Cup in 1988.  He scored one of penalties during the shootout in the Final against Espanyol.  He also played for 1960 Munich, FC Bologna, Hamburger SV, FC Zurich and Dynamo Dresden.  He won 11 caps for West Germany, scoring once between 1983 and 1988.

ST: Stefan Kießling (Germany)
He made his professional debut for Nürnberg as a 19-year-old in 2003 before being sold to Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2006. A German international since 2007, Kießling has earned six caps, failing to score a goal at the senior level. He represented Germany at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, featuring in two matches for the eventual third-place side.


ST: Dimitar Berbatov  (Bulgaria)
Dimitar Berbatov is its all-time leading goalscorer for Bulgaria. He has also won the Bulgarian Footballer of the Year a record seven times, surpassing the number of wins by Hristo Stoichkov.  He started with CSKA Sofia, but earned his reputation with Bayer Leverkusen between 2001 and 2006, playing in the Champions league Final in 2002. After two seasons with Tottenham Hotspur, he joined Manchester United.
Dimitar Berbatov

ST: Ulf Kirsten (Germany)
Started with Dynamo Dresden.  He was one of the first East German footballers to enter the Bundesliga after the German reunification. In the German Bundesliga he played 350 matches for Bayer Leverkusen and scored 182 goals.  Kirsten's 100 caps are almost evenly split: 49 for East Germany and 51 for the re-unified Germany. Kirsten played for his country at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups and Euro 2000.

ST:  Cha Bum Kun 차범근 (South Korea)
Cha Bum Kun is probably the greatest Asian player in the modern era.  He won two UEFA Cups, one each for Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen. he also played for Air Force in South Korea and SV Darmstadt 98. He was widely considered one of the best forwards in the Bundesliga throughout his career. He became the third-highest-paid footballer in Germany while playing there. For the national team, he had 135 caps and went to Mexico 1986.
Cha Bum Kun

Honorable mention
Robert Kovac, Juan, Martin Kree, Franco Foda, Diego Placente, Lars Bender, Christian Schreier, André Schürrle, Paulo Sergio

Squad Explanation
-- Bayer Leverkusen finished second in the Champions' League, Bundesliga and the German Cup in the 2001-2002 season.  They almost won a treble, but ended without a single trophy.  It was sad season, but it was still a very good result. Hans Jörg Butt, Lucio, Michael Ballack, Ze Roberto, Boris Živkovic, Jens Nowotny, Carsten Ramelow, Bernd Schneider, Yıldıray Baştürk and Ulf Kirsten played for the club that season. Lucio would win a World Cup that summer.  Butt, Ballack, Schneider and Ramelow helped Geramy to reach the World Cup Final while Yıldıray Baştürk helped Turkey to a third place.
-- René Adler stayed in the home of Rüdiger Vollborn when he joined Leverkusen as a youth player.
-- Brazilan players such as Lucio, Ze Roberto and Jorginho started their European career with Bayer Leverkusen.  In the 1990's, they were known for their scouting department in Brazil. 
-- Bayer Leverkusen was one of the first club to tap into East German players after the renunciation. They signed Andreas Thom.  Later Ulf Kirsten played for them.  Michael Ballack and Bernd Schneider were also born in East Germany, but did not transfer directly from an East German clubs.
-- I took one left back.  Instead, I brought an extra centerback, Carsten Ramelow.
-- Stefan Kießling held the appearance record for the club.  I selected him over many more famous players.
-- Cha Bum Kun made the team of the season for Bundesliga while playing for Bayer Leverkusen.  He helped the club to win a UEFA Cup in 1988, scoring one of the goals in the Final.
-- Rüdiger Vollborn, Cha Bum Kun, Thomas Hörster, Knut Reinhardt, Andrzej Buncol and Herbert Waas
-- Rudi Voller and Bernd Schuster came at the end of their career. They did not do enough.


Formation




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