Tracing their history back to 1898, Darmstadt first made it to the big time in 1978, even managing a 1-1 draw away at Bayern Munich despite the fact their squad still held jobs outside of football and could only train in the evenings.
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.
SV Darmstadt 98
Years in Bundesliga: 5 (1978/79, 1981/82, 2015-17, 2023-present)
Most appearances: Marcel Heller (65)
Most goals: Peter Cestonaro (21)
Youngest player: Silas Zehnder (17 years, 10 months, 20 days)
Their part-time status led to media referring to them as the Feierabendfußballer vom Böllenfalltor – more or less the ‘post-work footballers from the Böllenfalltor’, which has been their home ground since 1921. They finished their maiden Bundesliga campaign – and first in a top division since 1950/51 – bottom but were back again after two seasons, this time going one better in 17th place.
Their pushes for a third Bundesliga return came up short on a number of occasions. And with heavy debts resulting from their 1981/82 campaign in the top flight, they slipped out of the professional divisions in 1993 after 22 years. The Lilies – so named for the flower on the city and club’s crests – would also spend six seasons in the fourth tier before a resurgence saw them go from the Regionalliga in 2010/11 straight back to the Bundesliga by 2015.
Watch: Darmstadt secure promotion at the end of 2022/23
They finished 14th under Dirk Schuster for their best position to date to secure top-flight football for a second straight season for the first time ever. However, they came bottom again the next campaign to return to the second division in the year they temporarily renamed their stadium the Jonathan-Heimes-Stadion am Böllenfalltor in memory of fan Jonathan Heimes, who had helped bring the fans and team together before dying from cancer in March 2016.
Darmstadt’s list of youth products isn’t long but does include some notable names, such as Bruno Labbadia – whose first coaching job was at the Böllenfalltor while in the lower leagues – Niklas Süle, Sebastian Rode and recent Germany U21 captain Jonathan Burkardt. After relegation in 2017, the Lilies established themselves back in Bundesliga 2 before emerging as promotion contenders again in 2021/22. They finally made their return to the big time in 2023 under Torsten Lieberknecht as they embark on a fifth season in the Bundesliga.