VfL Osnabrück are heading back to Bundesliga 2 after the Purple-Whites produced a jaw-dropping, come-from-behind win against Borussia Dortmund II to achieve automatic promotion from Germany's third tier.
How they did it
Trailing to Justin Njinmah's goal on the last day of an incredible 3. Liga season, Osnabrück looked out of contention going into time added on at the Stadion an der Bremer Brücke. Fan celebrations had already begun over at rivals SV Wehen Wiesbaden, who thought their team had done enough to go up to the second tier thanks to a 2-1 win against Halle.
Even when Ba-Muaka Simakala scored in the fourth minute of added time for the Lila-Weißen , it seemed little more than a consolation. Yet scenes of wild celebration were sparked in Lower Saxony when Jannes Wulff's 96th minute winner meant it was Schweinsteiger's side that would join third-division champions Elversberg in the second division next season.
"My brain stopped working for a moment after the final whistle," Schweinsteiger - elder brother of Bayern Munich and Germany legend Bastian - said following his side's stunning win. Then I went to the dressing room and called all the important people [in my life]. Now I'm going to enjoy it. There is an outstanding togetherness within this team; they fought their way out together," the tactician added.
"It's a dream come true; the party will continue until dawn," Osnabrück goalscorer Simakala said. Meanwhile, captain Marc Heider noted, "We were almost dead [but] you can never give up here. Thanks to everyone who believed in us."
The Purple-Whites, who were relegated to the third tier following a play-off defeat against Ingolstadt in 2021, were down in eighth position at the beginning of the Rückrunde this term but produced a solid second half of the campaign and won six of their last seven games, drawing the other, to aid their promotion push. Such was their turnaround, in fact, that Osnabrück topped the Rückrunde standings with Dynamo Dresden, both sides taking 42 points during the period.
Their origins dating back to 1899, Osnabrück would later play in Germany's Oberliga Nord. Althouth they didn't make it into the Bundesliga when German football's top tier was formed in the early 1960s, the Lower Saxony-based side instead competed in the Regionalliga Nord
After winning that division several times, VfL qualified for regional competitions that held the prize of a place in top flight on various occasions, but they never managed to make it into the Bundesliga.
Osnabrück later featured in the first ever Bundesliga 2 campaign in 1981–82 and they would largely remain there during the decade. The 90s would see the side slip down to the Oberliga Nord and they would later develop the reputation as something of a yo-yo club. They won the newly formed 3. Liga in 2009-10 while enjoying a run to the DFB Cup quarter-finals but that preceded further slides back down.
Changing their stadium name back to the original Bremer Brücke eventually inspired a change in results after a sticky start. They won the 3. Liga title on their 120th anniversary in 2018/19 before enduring one more relegation two seasons later following a play-off defeat against Ingolstadt.
In the 1978–79 campaign, Osnabrück celebrated perhaps their most famous result to date, beating Bayern Munich 5-4 away in the DFB Cup. The club holds the record for having played most seasons in the second tier of German football without ever having been promoted to the Bundesliga. Could that be about to change soon?
Older brother of former Bayern and Germany legend Bastian Schweinsteiger, Tobias's career as a midfielder and forward was largely played out in his country's lower leagues. As well as captaining Jahn Regensburg, Schweinsteiger senior also enjoyed runs in the Bayern reserve team and at SpVgg Unterhaching, among others. His coaching career began when he began as an assistant at Bayern's Under-17s before joining current Hamburg boss Tim Walter with the Bayern reserves.
Further assistant roles at Hamburg and Nuremberg followed before he was given an opportunity to step up as coach of Osnabrück last August. Under the 41-year-old, the Purple-Whites won 19 third-division games on their way to promotion while they also reached the final of the Lower-Saxony Cup.
The 27-year-old Simakala finished as the league's second-highest scorer with 19 goals, which included six successfully converted penalties. The former Borussia Mönchengladbach youth also weighed in with an admirable 11 assists as Osnabrück scaled the heights to achieve promotion.
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