Two-time champions Cologne are one of the Bundesliga's most colourful clubs. - © Imago
Two-time champions Cologne are one of the Bundesliga's most colourful clubs. - © Imago
60 years of Bundesliga

Bundesliga club-by-club historical guide: Cologne

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Something of a yo-yo team in more recent years, Cologne were actually inaugural winners of the Bundesliga, back in 1963/64.

bundesliga.com 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.

1. FC Cologne
Years in Bundesliga:
 52 (1963-98, 2000-02, 2003/04, 2005/06, 2008-12, 2014-18, 2019-present)
Most appearances: Toni Schumacher (422)
Most goals:
Hannes Löhr (166)
Youngest player:
Yann Aurel Bisseck (16 years, 11 months, 28 days)

Cologne – or 1. FC Köln as they are officially known – hold a special place in Bundesliga history as the division’s inaugural champions in 1963/64, having topped the table for all but one matchday early in the season. They were generally around the top end in the following years without really challenging. That changed in 1976/77 when Hennes Weisweiler returned for his third stint in charge as coach. He led the team to DFB Cup glory before guiding the Billy Goats to their first and only domestic double the year after.

Watch: Cologne's famous mascot, Hennes the goat

That successful 1977/78 campaign saw Dieter Müller become the only player to date in the Bundesliga to score six goals in a single game. He did so in a 7-2 win over Werder Bremen on Matchday 3, but there is no video footage of the achievement since no TV cameras were sent to the game with it being a rearranged fixture on a Wednesday.

Cologne were regulars in European competition for much of the 70s and 80s, even reaching the 1985/86 UEFA Cup final against Real Madrid. The good times came close to returning in the late 80s with Bundesliga finishes of third, second and second, but financial issues soon led to a downturn that resulted in relegation in 1998. Since then, the club has become a yo-yo team. Their current five-year stint in the Bundesliga is their best since their original 35-year spell at the top table.

Cologne as a city can be a wacky place, with the area known for its annual Carnival celebrations that obviously also spill over into the world of football. Effzeh, as they are often referred to, are the other Bundesliga club to have a living mascot, alongside Eintracht Frankfurt. There has been a Hennes at Cologne home games since 1950, when circus director Carola Williams gifted the club a billy goat – hence the nickname and goat on the club badge – as a good luck charm and named it after player-coach Weisweiler.

The current version of the goat is Hennes IX and he lives at the Kölner Zoo with other goats, being brought to home games. The original Hennes even used to travel on the team bus to away fixtures. Hennes XIII in particular was very popular during his decade as mascot. His death in 2019 triggered an outpouring of grief in the city, having been with the club through relegation, promotion and even European football for the first time in a quarter of a century. Hennes’s presence on the side of the pitch is just another event within the highly entertaining event that is a Cologne home game.

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