VfL Wolfsburg


GERMAN CHAMPION 2009

The club was founded in 1945 and has some 5,300 members. Not surprisingly, a major sponsor is VW - Volkswagen. In fact, during the Nazi era, the forerunner of this club was known by the ridiculous BSG Volkswagenwerk Stadt des KdF-Wagen.

Wolfsburg has always been a regional north powerhouse, often battling the likes of St.Pauli and Osnabrück for the old northern title. However things didn't start very auspiciously. When VfL got rolling in 1945, some 12 folks got together and formed the club, with the first headquarters chosen at the "Gaststätte Zum Brandenburger Adler". The green colors were chosen by default, as some blankets were cut up to provide the new uniforms. And the club almost didn't make it. After winning a match against a nearby village, the whole team decided to leave and join local rival 1.FC Wolfsburg. The remaining player, a Josef Meyer, got a few friends, including some that had really no interest in football. They managed to field a squad that lost 8-0 against a local British Army squad. However, despite this poor start, within a year they were good enough to win the local Gifhorn district league. Within 10 years, the soccer section counted over 600 members, and they were well on the way to becoming the city's number 1 squad. The expansion of the Volkswagen plant meant that workers were coming from all over Germany, and this led to an improvement in the squad as well. By 1954, VfL made it to the Oberliga Nord, which was then the highest division in the pre-Bundesliga era.

The establishment of the Bundesliga era obvisouly didn't see Wolfsburg included, but it wouldn't have been too much of a stretch. By the early 1970s, they were a powerhouse in the then 2nd division Regionalliga Nord. However as the 2nd division began to get reorganized, Wolfsburg was too weak, and was relegated down to the 3rd level. They would remain their for almost 15 years.

In 1995, VfL had a great Cup run, as a goal by Siggi Reich saw them defeat 1.FC Köln in the semifinals. Although they were well beaten (0-3) by Gladbach in the finals, this was the high point of club history, although it would soon be eclipsed. In 1996, Mainz was defeated 5-4 on the last day of the 2.Liga season to make the jump into the Bundesliga. It was somewhat of a surprise, as although VfL had been a good 2.Liga side, they were coming off a season where they had only finished 12th. Certainly the fans didn't over-react, as they averaged under 6,000 fans per match.

The first Bundesliga season was difficult, and VfL looked like returning to the 2.Liga. Manager Willi Reimann threw in the towel in March, but his successor Wolfgang Wolf led the squad to 3 wins in 4 matches, and safety. American fans will be interested to know that Claudio Reyna and Chad Deering played with the club in it's inaugural Bundesliga season in 1997-98.

The 1998-99 proved to be a sensation. Not only did they defy the pundits prediction of relegation for the 2nd straight year, but they barely missed qualifying for the Champions League. Although most observors still believe that Wolfsburg is playing over their heads, they seem to be able to get wins when they need them. However, with a solid 6th place finish the net, they proved that is was no fluke. The following season ended in 7th place, and participation in the UEFA Cup wasn't bad, losing eventually in the 3rd round to Atletico Madrid by away goals. VfL seems to have established themselves as a solid mid-level Bundesliga club. Actually, one of the bigger successes was in the 2001 DFB Cup, when the amateur squad upended Borussia Dortmund 1-0.

The soccer division became an independent company in 2001, reflecting the increased strength. The new VW-Arena has increased attendance, and although the club maintains it's workman-like ethic, they've also been moving towards more skilled players as well. In 2003, the club brough in flashy Argentine international Andres D'Alessandro, which was quite a suprise to most pundits. In general, it was the foreign players that added swing to the squad. The only German internationals that I can think of were Zoltan Sebescen (1 cap) and defender Tobias Rau, who had a few apperances before transferring to Bayern. Among some decent foreign players have been the Argentine trio of Andres D'Alessandro, Juan Carlos Menseguez and goal-scorer Diego Klimowicz. Bulgarian Martin Petrov was one of the best left side forwards in the Bundesliga until his high priced transfer to Atletico Madrid in 2005. A popular and solid midfielder was Krzysztof Nowak, who tragically died of ALS at age 29 in 2005.

In 2007, Wolfsburg was able to hire Felix Magath as head coach, who had just been canned by Bayern München, despite back-to-back doubles. This would prove to be the turning point in the club's fortunes. In his first year, Magath installed his discpline into the squad, and it paid dividends. With a good stretch run, VfL ended up in 5th place, and qualified for the UEFA Cup, their best showing ever. The next season would prove to be successful beyond their wildest dreams. With an strong offensive orientation, VfL began grinding out wins, and came out blazing after the winterbreak. The watershed was a brilliant 5-1 thrashing of Bayern München in the direct matchup, as Wolfsburg became the team to beat. And although many other clubs contended in the thrilling 2008-09 season, it was Wolfsburg who maintained their discipline and deservedly won the title, the greatest achievement in club history. The key factor in the title was the amazing strike duo of the Brazilian Grafite and Bosnian Edin Dzeko. Grafite led the Bundesliga with 28 goals, and Dzeko finished runner-up with 26. The combined 54 broke the almost 40 year record of 53. (1971-72, Bayern München's Gerd Müller (40) and Uli Hoeness (13). Wolfsburg proved that home strength was key as well: VfL won 16 of 17 matches played in the Volkswagen-Arena. Ironically, after celebrating perhaps his most sensational coaching job, Felix Magath left the club to join Schalke, but with a solid base of players, Wolfsburg should certainly seemed be a team to be reckoned with. Instead, they immediately began to drift. In desperation, Felix Magath was brought back, but he was clearly off his rocker this time. Lots of expensive players were brought in, and they basically all sucked. The squad basically quit playing for Magath. After barely avoiding relegation, the club began to rebuild, relying on players coming through the ranks, and things began to look better.

Fullname Verein für Leibesübungen Wolfsburg Fußball GmbH
City Wolfsburg (Niedersachsen). Pop: 121,887 (2002). Until after WW-II, the city was known as "Stadt des KdF-Wagen". ("Kraft durch Freude"-Wagen was the original Volkswagen, a car promoted by the Nazi mass social recreation organization)
Address Elsterweg 5, 38446 Wolfsburg.
Phone: (0 53 61) 85170 Fax: (05361) 52785
Colors Green shirts with white trim, white shorts. Road uniform red(?)
Nickname Die Wölfe (The Wolves). Also known as "VW", although obvious Wolves is preferred...
Stadium Volkswagen-Arena. Capacity: 30,000 (22,000 seats).
Finished in 2002. Until then, the club had played in the VfL-Stadion, which held about 20,500. The amateur squad plays still plays here. Tours are available of the new stadium. Cost is 5 euros, and last about 1 hour, every Friday at 15:00.
Tickets VfL has a small stadium, and draws strong support. I'm told tickets are available, priced 9-36 euros (2005). Available single day Seats are apparently only returns from visitor teams. If available, expect to pay approx. 10% more.
The stadium magazine is "Grün Und Gut" ("Green And Good") - cost: 1 euro.
Supporters Averaged 23,000 in 2004. Basically local support, somewhat lukewarm in the past. Approx. 125 fan clubs are officially registered. The official Fan-Projekt is known as "Street Worker". (They missed a chance for notoriety here, as it could have been called "Street Walker")
Friends Volkswagen Employees Association :)
Foes Like another corporate puppet team (Leverkusen), VfL gets no respect from opposing fans. However, rather than rivalry, indifference is probably more accurate. As Wolfsburg has gotten better, Bremen, Hamburg and Hannover should be paying more attention. During the old Regionalliga days from the 1960s-1970s, there were reasonably strong rivalry with clubs like VfL Osnabrück and St.Pauli.
Heroes Siegfried "Siggi" Reich, a stalwart from the 1990s, had some 316 matches for the club. Grafite and Edin Dzeko became gods during the 2009 Championship year with their goal scoring feats.
Zeroes
Beer Warsteiner, König-Pilsener, Wittinger have all been mentioned. Maybe the Wolfis just like their beer! Hasseröder is now the official beer sponsor.
Pub Grub Soccer-Café is the new stadium restaurant. Also open midweek, offering specialities such as Schnitzel or half a grilled chicken for around 5-6 euros.
The Net Official page: www.vfl-wolfsburg.de

Recent History:
--------------

2011-12 (I)     Bundesliga		5th
2012-13 (I)     Bundesliga		11th
2011-12 (I)     Bundesliga		8th
2010-11 (I)     Bundesliga              15th

2009-10 (I)     Bundesliga              8th
2008-09 (I)     Bundesliga              1st     CHAMPION
2007-08 (I)     Bundesliga              5th
2006-07 (I)     Bundesliga              15th
2005-06 (I)     Bundesliga              15th
2004-05 (I)     Bundesliga              9th 
2003-04 (I)     Bundesliga              10th
2002-03 (I)     Bundesliga              8th 
2001-02 (I)     Bundesliga              10th
2000-01 (I)     Bundesliga              9th 

1999-00 (I)     Bundesliga              7th
1998-99 (I)     Bundesliga              6th
1997-98 (I)     Bundesliga              14th
1996-97 (II)    2.Bundesliga            2nd
1995-96 (II)    2.Bundesliga            12th
1994-95 (II)    2.Bundesliga            4th     DFB Cup Finalist
1993-94 (II)    2.Bundesliga            5th 
1992-93 (II)    2.Bundesliga            14th
1991-92 (III)   Am.Oberliga Nord        1st 
1990-91 (III)   Am.Oberliga Nord        1st

1989-90 (III)   Am.Oberliga Nord        4th 
1988-89 (III)   Am.Oberliga Nord        3rd
1987-88 (III)   Am.Oberliga Nord        2nd
1986-87 (III)   Am.Oberliga Nord        6th
1985-86 (III)   Am.Oberliga Nord        6th
1984-85 (III)   Am.Oberliga Nord        9th
1983-84 (III)   Am.Oberliga Nord        14th
1982-83 (III)   Am.Oberliga Nord        5th
1981-82 (III)   Am.Oberliga Nord        4th
1980-81 (III)   Am.Oberliga Nord        6th

1979-80 (III)   Am.Oberliga Nord        3rd
1978-79 (III)   Am.Oberliga Nord        5th
1977-78 (III)   Am.Oberliga Nord        2nd
1976-77 (II)    2.Bundesliga Nord       20th
1975-76 (III)   Am.Oberliga Nord        2nd 
1974-75 (II)    2.Bundesliga Nord       19th
1973-74 (II)    Regionalliga Nord       4th 
1972-73 (II)    Regionalliga Nord       3rd
1971-72 (II)    Regionalliga Nord       3rd
1970-71 (II)    Regionalliga Nord       9th
 
1969-70	(II)	Regionalliga Nord	2nd
1968-69 (II)    Regionalliga Nord       7th
1967-68 (II)    Regionalliga Nord       3rd
1966-67 (II)    Regionalliga Nord       4th
1965-66 (II)    Regionalliga Nord       8th
1964-65 (II)    Regionalliga Nord       6th
1963-64 (II)    Regionalliga Nord       9th


(c) Abseits Guide to Germany