Last season, right in February, Bayer Leverkusen had surprised several parties by clearing out the Bundesliga’s biggest strength, Bayern Munchen, with a score of 3-1. Three goals scored by Leon Bailey, Kevin Volland, and Lucas Alario, only able to be replied by one Leon Leonetzka’s score. A week later, the club based in the Bay Arena managed to pulverize Mainz with a score of 5-1.
Despite failing to be a strong contender for the two Bundesliga powers, FC Bayern and Borussia Dortmund in the top flight, at least Leverkusen has secured the Champions League spot by settling in the fourth rank in the final standings.
It is undeniable that Bayer Leverkusen is one of the biggest teams in Germany. They play quite often in European competition and have kicked off the blue continent when they appeared in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
Although classified as a fairly elite club, Leverkusen is only a team with a very little title. It was recorded that the last title they won was the DFB-Pokal trophy in 1993. At that time, they managed to defeat Hertha Berlin’s resistance at the top of the party with a score of 1-0. He was the club’s legend, Ulf Kirsten, who scored the only goal against the capital club.
It is in fact, the only Bayer Leverkusen’s domestic trophy in the club’s history since the club was founded around 114 years ago. In total, Leverkusen has only two prestigious trophies. Besides the DFB-Pokal, they also managed the Cup Winners Cup collection in the 1987/88 season.
It was indeed difficult for Bayer Leverkusen to become the champion in a local competition. Although joining one of the elite clubs, they could not match the superiority of Bayern Munich for years. Currently, Borussia Dortmund is the only one who has been able to take over the Bundesliga trophy from Bayern’s grasp and become a strong competitor to The Bavarian. Meanwhile, the others, like Wolfsburg, Stuttgart, and Werder Bremen were also occasionally benefitted by the title.
If you look at the material history of the team’s players, they have several famous names. But due to poor management, Leverkusen was only used as a stepping stone by most of the world’s talented talents.
The first name that might be one of Bayer Leverkusen’s greatest regrets is Michael Ballack. Three times winning the German Footballer of the Year award, Michael Ballack was the best German midfielder of his time. He was brought from Kaiserslautern to the Bay Arena in 1999. Also, this 188 cm man was also part of the “neverkusen” squad of the 2001/02 season, which was a mockery for Bayer Leverkusen who almost won the European Champions League, Bundesliga, and DFB Pokal.
During his career with Leverkusen, Ballack had scored 42 goals and 27 assists from 155 matches, before finally settling at FC Bayern and winning several prestigious trophies, including three Bundesliga Cups.
Next, there is Ze Roberto. No one does not know one of these talented Brazilians. This 45-year-old former player is one of the most shining players on the blue continent. Brought by Bayer Leverkusen from Flamengo, Ze Roberto performed quite brilliantly.
This right-winger recorded 150 matches with Der Werkself by scoring 19 goals and 42 assists. Performing brilliantly with Leverkusen but did not get a single trophy, FC Bayern finally brought Ze Roberto and create their history by becoming Bundesliga champions four times.
Lucio is no less predominant. This well-built defender successfully brought Bayern Munich to Bundesliga champions and brought Inter Milan to the Champions League, whereas Bayer Leverkusen was his first club when he played in Europe. Lucio was bought by Leverkusen in the 2001 winter exchange transfer. During approximately three seasons at the Bay Arena, Lucio, who had played 92 times and scored 15 goals, continued his career at FC Bayern.
Next, there is the former Manchester United striker, Dimitar Berbatov. Successfully gained more than 20 goals each season, Berbatov failed to win any title. Thus, he went looking for a new challenge to the Premier League club, Tottenham Hotspurs. Playing at Tottenham, Berbatov managed to donate the Carabao Cup trophy and followed by the Premier League trophy with the Red Devils.
After Berbatov, there is a super-tough midfielder, Arturo Vidal. The existence of Arturo Vidal in The Neverkusen camp might not have been realized by some parties. But his glory at the club managed to attract the interest of Italian giants, Juventus. Without any trophies from Germany, Vidal was transformed into one of the best midfielders in the world after donating four Scudetto titles.
Being stand out in Italy, Vidal returned to Germany to lift the Bundesliga trophy. But this time, he was with FC Bayern instead of Leverkusen.
Besides having a qualify midfielder like Vidal, Leverkusen also had another talented midfielder, Toni Kroos.
One World Cup trophy, 3 Bundesliga trophies, 4 Champions League trophies are the achievement of Toni Kroos, without ever lifting a trophy in a Leverkusen uniform. Although only living the loan period at the Bay Arena, 18 months in Leverkusen became a crucial period for Kroos. He made his debut in the Bundesliga when he was only 17 years old. He scored 9 goals, 12 Assists from 33 Bundesliga appearances for the 2009/10 season with Leverkusen. Then, when he returned to Bayern, Kroos was transformed into one of the scary midfield maestros.
The last name is Son Heung Min. Although only spending two seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, Son Heung Min played well enough to attract several clubs. In Germany, he scored 29 goals. Though his position was not as a pure attacker.
Playing in one of the best competitions in the world, Son immediately showed his quality. Now, he is one of Tottenham’s best players and one of the first-class attackers in the world.
Other names that are quite astonishing are Hakan Calhanoglu and Arkadiusz Milik. These former Leverkusen players are now stars in the best Italian football competition Serie A.
Last but not least, there are Bern Leno, Andre Schurrle, Emre Can, Domagoj Vida, and Dani Carvajal who also became the club’s best alumni called Der Werkself.
Apparently, the tradition of being a stepping stone makes it difficult for Leverkusen to develop. They were not really capable of using their best talents. Imagine if all these players could defend the club. Leverkusen might have achieved the dream of lifting their first Bundesliga trophy.