Iran's Ali Daei scored seven goals in 25 appearances for Arminia. - © Imago
Iran's Ali Daei scored seven goals in 25 appearances for Arminia. - © Imago
60 years of Bundesliga

Bundesliga club-by-club historical guide: Arminia Bielefeld


Famed for bouncing between the divisions, Arminia Bielefeld share the record for the most Bundesliga promotions and can also boast of several important firsts. is taking you through all the teams to have graced Germany’s first division over the last 60 years – based on the number of seasons they’ve played up to and including 2023/24.

Arminia Bielefeld
Years in Bundesliga:
19 (1970-72, 1978/79, 1980-85, 1996-98, 1999/2000, 2002/03, 2004-09, 2020-22)
Most appearances: Rüdiger Kauf (170)
Most goals:
Artur Wichniarek (45)
Youngest player:
Burak Ince (18 years, one month, 21 days)

The city of Bielefeld is best known for three things: the home of the Dr. Oetker group, the home of Arminia the football club, and for apparently not existing. A conspiracy theory from the 1990s suggests that nobody has in fact ever been to Bielefeld, nobody knows anyone from Bielefeld or anyone who has ever been, because the place doesn’t exist. Football fans can confirm it does, however, after 19 seasons in the German top flight.

Delron Buckley (l.) once scored 15 goals in a single season for Bielefeld. - Bongarts/Getty Images

Arminia hold the record for most promotions to the Bundesliga together with Nuremberg (eight), correctly suggesting that they have been a classic yo-yo team. Two five-year stints is the best they’ve managed at the top table as they’ve flitted between there and the third tier.

It could have been nine promotions had they not famously blown a 4-0 first-leg lead over 1860 Munich in the 1976/77 play-off. A win by the same score over Bayern Munich in March 1979 under Otto Rehhagel goes down as their most famous in the Bundesliga, but it was also later blamed for their relegation that season as DSC claimed just two more wins in their following 15 games.

Stefan Kuntz was a senior Germany international while at Arminia. - Imago

Back-to-back eighth-place finishes in the 1980s are the best Arminia can record in the Bundesliga, but they have had some notable names pull on the shirt. Stefan Kuntz in 1996 became only the second Bielefeld player to represent Germany, after Walter Claus-Oehler 73 years earlier.

Ronald Maul and Patrick Owomoyela are the only other pair. Arminia were also the first Bundesliga club to sign players from Iran, bringing in Ali Daei and Karim Bagheri in 1997/98. Their 5-0 win away at Preußen Münster in November 1925 was also the first to be broadcast live on German radio. However, they were also part of one of the Bundesliga’s darker episodes when found guilty of match fixing in 1971. It saw them relegated in 1971/72, having had all their points taken away.

Arminia's Karim Bagheri and Ali Daei were the first Iranians to play in the Bundesliga. - imago/Team 2

Their home of almost 100 years, now known as the SchücoArena, is commonly referred to as the Bielefelder Alm, with Alm being the word for an Alpine mountain pasture. It was quite literally a farm when they first moved there in 1926, uneven and prone to flooding. The joke is that the name is because the stadium is the highest in the Bundesliga since it takes a year to climb up there (promotion) and another year to come back down (relegation), in reference to the club’s yo-yoing.

The name Arminia comes from the chieftain of the Germanic Cherusci tribe, Arminius, who defeated the Romans at the nearby Battle of Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD. His statue at the Hermannsdenkmal earned the club a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1999 when shirt sponsor Herforder Brauerei dressed the statue in a giant Arminia Bielefeld jersey. Using 130 square metres of material, it was the biggest football shirt in the world and bore the number 9 to mark the year of the battle.

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