Having finished runners-up more times than anybody in Leverkusen cared to remember, Bayer 04 had claimed the undesirable moniker of “Neverkusen”. Playing at times the best football in the country the side ultimately always fell short in collecting silverware. In 2001/02 they lost the Bundesliga title race on the last matchday. A week later they fell to Schalke in the Cup final. Another four days later another defeat in the Champions League final would forever cement their place in footballing lore as nearly men.
Their opponents at Hampden Park faced their own bit of pressure. Having delivered two CL trophies to Madrid within three years club president Lorenzo Sanz was nonetheless voted out of power. New guy Florentino Perez wasted no time by ushering in the Galácticos era at Real, bringing in Luis Figo from Barcelona and, in 2001, Zinedine Zidane from Juventus. For all the money spent they travelled to Glasgow empty handed having finished third in La Liga and losing to Deportivo La Coruna in the Copa final.
This episode has been some time in the making but it turned into our biggest, baddest, and likely best episode yet. In large part that is due to our awesome guests:
- Eric Bruehl (@SchnixB04) regularly talks about Bayer Leverkusen on the Neverkusen Podcast
- Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) writes and talks about Real Madrid for numerous outlets including Managing Madrid; find him on Medium and Facebook
Minutes for the different parts below if you want to jump to a particular guest or topic:
- 0:01:20 PART 1 talking about works teams in Germany, and Leverkusen’s club history
- 0:35:15 PART 2 (with Eric) talking about Bayer Leverkusen in the late 90s / early 00s, Toppmöller, and the origin of “Neverkusen”
- 1:21:45 PART 3 (with Kiyan) talking about Perez’ election, bringing in Figo & Zidane, and how the “Galacticos” set up on the pitch
- 1:50:30 PART 4 talking about the Champions League season 2001/02 & the final in detail
- 2:58:10 PART 5 (with Eric) talking about the immediate & long term aftermath of the final, and what ails Bayer Leverkusen in 2017
Also check out our previous episodes on Real Madrid:
- An Incomplete History of Real Madrid, CL Season 97/98 in Review (S01E06.1)
- CL Final 1997/98, Real Madrid vs Juventus; Doping in Football (S01E06.2)
- El Príncipe y la Octava, Or: CL Final 1999/2000, Real Madrid vs Valencia CF (S01E08)