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.

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's been the foreign players that have 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 be a team to be reckoned with.

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:
--------------

1963-64	(II)	Regionalliga Nord	9th
1964-65	(II)	Regionalliga Nord	6th
1965-66	(II)	Regionalliga Nord	8th
1966-67	(II)	Regionalliga Nord	4th
1967-68	(II)	Regionalliga Nord	3rd
1968-69	(II)	Regionalliga Nord	7th
1969-70	(II)	Regionalliga Nord	2nd
1970-71	(II)	Regionalliga Nord	9th
1971-72	(II)	Regionalliga Nord	3rd
1972-73	(II)	Regionalliga Nord	3rd
1973-74	(II)	Regionalliga Nord	4th
1974-75	(II)	2.Bundesliga Nord	19th
1975-76	(III)	Am.Oberliga Nord	2nd
1976-77	(II)	2.Bundesliga Nord	20th
1977-78	(III)	Am.Oberliga Nord	2nd
1978-79	(III)	Am.Oberliga Nord	5th
1979-80	(III)	Am.Oberliga Nord	3rd
1980-81	(III)	Am.Oberliga Nord	6th
1981-82	(III)	Am.Oberliga Nord	4th
1982-83	(III)	Am.Oberliga Nord	5th
1983-84	(III)	Am.Oberliga Nord	14th
1984-85	(III)	Am.Oberliga Nord	9th
1985-86	(III)	Am.Oberliga Nord	6th
1986-87	(III)	Am.Oberliga Nord	6th
1987-88	(III)	Am.Oberliga Nord	2nd
1988-89	(III)	Am.Oberliga Nord	3rd
1989-90	(III)	Am.Oberliga Nord	4th
1990-91	(III)	Am.Oberliga Nord	1st
1991-92	(III)	Am.Oberliga Nord	1st
1992-93	(II)	2.Bundesliga		14th
1993-94	(II)	2.Bundesliga		5th
1994-95	(II)	2.Bundesliga		4th	DFB Cup Finalist
1995-96	(II)	2.Bundesliga		12th
1996-97	(II)	2.Bundesliga		2nd
1997-98	(I)	Bundesliga		14th
1998-99	(I)	Bundesliga		6th
1999-00	(I)	Bundesliga		7th
2000-01	(I)	Bundesliga		9th
2001-02	(I)	Bundesliga		10th
2002-03	(I)	Bundesliga		8th
2003-04	(I)	Bundesliga		10th
2004-05	(I)	Bundesliga		9th
2005-06	(I)	Bundesliga		15th
2006-07	(I)	Bundesliga		15th
2007-08 (I)     Bundesliga		5th
2008-09 (I)     Bundesliga		1st	CHAMPION
2009-10 (I)     Bundesliga		8th
2010-11 (I)     Bundesliga		15th
2011-12 (I)     Bundesliga

(c) Abseits Guide to Germany