Wolfsburg aren't the only Bundesliga club who'll be hoping to celebrate Easter with victory on Matchday 30. - © 2011 Getty Images
Wolfsburg aren't the only Bundesliga club who'll be hoping to celebrate Easter with victory on Matchday 30. - © 2011 Getty Images
bundesliga

Bundesliga Easter eggs: surprising facts and figures you may not know

Tens of teams and thousands of players have come and gone during 56 years of Bundesliga history, and with them a host of records have changed hands. But do you know everything there is to know about the weird and wonderful history of the German top flight?

Would you bet your stash of chocolate goodies on the certainty that Bayern Munich are Germany's longest-serving record champions? Stake your share of roast lamb in the confident knowledge that Borussia Dortmund boast the Bundesliga's record attendance?

If so, bundesliga.com's myth-debunking Easter eggs are definitely for you…

Bayern Munich are now by far the most successful side in German football, but that hasn't always been the case... - 2018 DFL

The Bundesliga's first champions

Bayern may have lifted the Meisterschale in a whopping 27 of the 55 full Bundesliga seasons to date, but it wasn't actually until the sixth edition of the new league that they finally got their hands on the crown. In fact, they weren't even the first team from Munich to win it. When the Bundesliga was set up in 1963, each city could only be represented by one team, and 1860 Munich got the nod ahead of Bayern after winning the Oberliga South that spring. They went on to win the Bundesliga in 1965/66, which was the inaugural campaign for two future giants: Bayern and Borussia Mönchengladbach.

The inaugural Bundesliga champions were Cologne, followed by Werder Bremen, 1860, Eintracht Braunschweig and Nuremberg. Perhaps another surprise is that Bayern also weren't the first team to successfully defend the Bundesliga title. That honour fell to Gladbach, who twice pipped Bayern in 1969/70 and 1970/71.

Bayern's 'short' reign as record champions

Bayern's record haul of 28 German championships (27 in the Bundesliga era) is well documented, and it's the most of any team by some distance. But who would you say has the next best collection? Given their recent history, you might expect to find Dortmund second in line – and that is true enough for the Bundesliga era, where they are tied on five titles with Gladbach.

In terms of overall German titles, though, the honour of being runners-up goes to a rather more surprising name: Nuremberg. Up until 1986, Der Club's haul of nine German championships was unparalleled. While they shared the sobriquet at various points with Schalke, Nuremberg were known as Germany's Rekordmeister – record champions – for an astonishing period of over 60 years between 1924 and 1986. Their reign finally came to an end in 1986/87, when Bayern claimed their 10th German title. The Bavarians have almost tripled their tally since, but they have 'only' held the record for 33 years – just over half the length of the Nuremberg dynasty.

Nine-time German champions Nuremberg celebrated their only Bundesliga title in 1967/68 after a 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund. - imago/Horstmüller

An attendance never to be beaten?

Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park currently boasts the highest average attendance of any club in European football, thanks to an eye-popping capacity of 81,365. It's a huge number of fans to have inside a stadium, yet their weekly sell-out crowd cannot lay claim to the record attendance for a Bundesliga match.

The largest number of fans to ever witness a Bundesliga game live was the crowd of 88,075 who piled into Berlin's Olympiastadion to watch Hertha Berlin play Cologne in September 1969. Back then, the stadium in West Berlin could hold 100,000 spectators, while the next biggest grounds were to be found in Frankfurt (87,000), Hannover (86,000), Hamburg (80,000) and Cologne (76,000). The two Munich clubs still played at their 44,300-capacity Grünwalder Stadion, while Dortmund played their home games at the Stadion Rote Erde with space for just 30,000. Given the exacting standards of modern stadia, Hertha's record is unlikely to ever be beaten.

The most appearances in Bundesliga history

Bayern and Germany legend Oliver Kahn comes in at number three on the list with 557 outings, while Klaus Fischer put away his 268 top-flight goals in 535 games for 1860 Munich, Schalke, Cologne and Bochum. But the all-time record holder is a relative unknown outside of Germany: former centre-back Karl-Heinz 'Charly' Körbel, a one-club man who made a staggering 602 Bundesliga appearances for Eintracht Frankfurt.

Körbel made his top-flight debut as a 17-year-old on 14 October 1972, helping the Eagles to a 2-1 win over champions Bayern – while his final appearance came on 8 June 1991, at the age of 36, in an away draw with St Pauli. Remarkably, he started all but two of his 602 outings and scored 45 goals, most famously an equaliser at Hannover to help Frankfurt avoid the drop on the final day in 1988/89. Winner of four DFB Cups and the 1980 UEFA Cup, Körbel never lost a final with Frankfurt and was never relegated. He went on to briefly coach the club in the 1990s and developed its youth academy, of which he is still the director, in the early 2000s.

Charly Körbel made nearly 700 appearances for Eintracht Frankfurt - including a record 602 in the Bundesliga - winning four DFB Cups in the 1970s and 80s. - imago/Pressefoto Baumann

Top to flop

Remarkably, no fewer than six Bundesliga teams have managed to top the table and still be relegated come the end of the season. Admittedly, in two cases – Gladbach in 1998/99 and Arminia Bielefeld in 2002/03 – the sides in question opened the campaign with a 3-0 win before losing their way, while Rot-Weiss Essen in 1970/71, Karlsruher in 1997/98 and Paderborn in 2014/15 only managed to stay at the summit until Matchday 4 at the latest.

Surely the most spectacular unravelling was Hansa Rostock in 1991/92. Having joined the elite from the defunct DDR-Oberliga after German reunification, the newcomers made a stunning start, beating Nuremberg, Bayern, Dortmund and Gladbach in their first five games. The wheels soon came off though, and a run of two wins in their next 15 outings saw Rostock slip from first after Matchday 7 to 14th by Matchday 20. Five straight defeats towards the end of the campaign would condemn them to relegation, although they did have a final say in deciding the title race: their shock 2-1 win over Frankfurt on the final day allowed VfB Stuttgart to snatch the Meisterschale on goal difference.

An American pioneer

Ask your average football fan to name an American player in the Bundesliga, and they will likely point to Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic, whose success has paved the way for a star-spangled invasion in recent years; Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Josh Sargent are just some of the talented youngsters on their way to becoming household names in Germany and beyond.

But to really prove that you're a pub quiz powerhouse, how about identifying the first American to play in the Bundesliga? That distinction falls to Hungarian-born forward Andreas 'Andy' Mate, who made a handful of appearances for Hamburg in the 1964/65 season. Though he managed goals against MSV Duisburg and Stuttgart, Mate was never likely to dislodge HSV's prolific frontman Uwe Seeler (137 Bundesliga goals) from the starting line-up, and he returned to New York after just one year in the north of Germany. But even if he didn't share the success of the numerous compatriots who followed in his footsteps, he will always go down as the Bundesliga's original US trailblazer.

Christian Pulisic's middle name just so happens to be Mate, the same as the first American to feature in the Bundesliga. - 2017 Getty Images

The Bundesliga's youngest-ever coach

Hands up if you instantly thought Julian Nagelsmann! Well you would be half-right – Nagelsmann certainly became the Bundesliga's youngest-ever permanent head coach when he replaced Huub Stevens at the helm of Hoffenheim in February 2016, guiding his new charges to a 1-1 draw at Bremen at the tender age of 28 years, six months and 21 days old. Three years later, he is on course to qualify for Europe for the third successive campaign.

But the future RB Leipzig boss was not actually the youngest coach to oversee a Bundesliga game. That record is held by Bernd Stöber, who was put in charge of the Saarbrücken first-team for a week during the 1976/77 season, after Slobodan Cendic was relieved of his duties. At 24 years, one month and 17 days old, he sat in the dugout as Saarbrücken were thrashed 5-1 by Cologne – a forgettable day which nevertheless earned him a place in the history books. Stöber went on to coach Germany's U16s for many years before joining the DFB's national coaching academy in the mid-2000s.

The best-represented country after Germany

There are no prizes for guessing that Germany has provided the Bundesliga with the most players down the years, but the country in second place on the list is rather unexpected. Austria, you could well be tempted to think. Or perhaps another close neighbour – Switzerland or Denmark? The Netherlands? The answer is none of the above – and remarkably, not only does this Bundesliga football factory fail to share a border with Germany – it's not even on the same continent.

Indeed, with 159 Bundesliga exports, Brazil is the nation to have provided the German top flight with the most foreign-born talent, ahead of Denmark (129), Austria (119), Croatia (118) and Poland (109). By comparison, France has contributed just 72 players, Spain 45, Italy 26 and England just 16! Brazil's love affair with the Bundesliga began with Cologne striker Zeze – who famously left the country after being diagnosed with a 'snow allergy' – and continues today with the likes of Joelinton, Wendell and Matheus Cunha. Among the most decorated jogadors to have graced the Bundesliga is former Stuttgart and Bayern striker Giovane Elber, who won four league titles, four DFB Cups and the UEFA Champions League, not to mention the top scorer's cannon in 2002/03.

Felipe Santana (l.) and Dede (r.) are among the many players to have flown the Brazilian flag in the Bundesliga, both winning two league titles with Borussia Dortmund. - imago sportfotodienst

Bremen's golden oldies  

Like fine wines and priceless artwork, Bremen strikers only seem to get better with age. No fewer than three of their frontmen top the list of the Bundesliga's oldest-ever goalscorers, which is headed up by Claudio Pizarro. The evergreen Peruvian is still going strong, and it was only back in February that he broke the all-time record, netting in a 1-1 draw with Hertha at 40 years, four months and 13 days old. Six-time Bundesliga winner Pizarro has netted a league goal in every calendar year stretching back to 1999, and was also the division's all-time leading foreign scorer until being overtaken by Robert Lewandowski in early March.

The previous record holder, Mirko Votava, got his goal at 40 years, three months and 30 days old, in a 2-1 loss to Stuttgart in August 1996. Now the assistant coach of the Bremen reserves, the former midfielder said he "couldn't think of a more deserved successor" than Pizarro, whom he described as a "sporting phenomenon". Votava himself had taken over the mantle from the great Manfred Burgsmüller, fourth in the Bundesliga's all-time scorer's list, who was a sprightly 39 years, seven months and 14 days old when he got the last of his 213 league goals in Bremen's 2-2 draw with Fortuna Düsseldorf in August 1989.

Müller's six-pack

Lewandowski and Luka Jovic have both made headlines in recent years for the stunning achievement of scoring five goals in a single Bundesliga game – and the fact that the former's haul came in just nine extraordinary minutes against Wolfsburg guarantees him a permanent place in the record books. The Bayern and Frankfurt strikers became the 13th and 14th men to manage the feat; Burgsmüller also had a five-goal haul for Dortmund, as did former Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes for Gladbach and Jürgen Klinsmann for Stuttgart. True to form, all-time record Bundesliga scorer Gerd Müller pulled it off on four separate occasions for Bayern.

But only one man in history has ever scored six goals in a single Bundesliga game: Cologne striker Dieter Müller, who helped the Billy Goats put Bremen to the sword in a 7-2 win in August 1977. Four of Müller's goals were headers, and he completed his double hat-trick with four minutes to go, later claiming he "could even have scored two more". Sadly, no video footage of the game exists, but Müller's unique record still stands over 40 years later. Funnily enough, his was not the only remarkable achievement at the Müngersdorfer Stadion that day – before the game, Germany's 4x1500m relay team broke a 32-year-old world record in athletics – although that mark, unlike Müller's, was eventually surpassed in September 2009.

The only man to score six goals in a Bundesliga game, Dieter Müller (r.) helped Cologne win a league and cup double in 1977/78, and was also the Bundesliga's joint-top scorer with 24 goals. - imago sportfotodienst