A potential East German powerhouse, Energie Cottbus have bounced around the divisions but spent six years as a top-flight club, most recently in 2009.
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.
Years in Bundesliga: 6 (2000-03, 2006-09)
Most appearances: Timo Rost (129)
Most goals: Vasile Miriuta (15)
Youngest player: Arne Feick (18 years, seven months, 25 days)
The town of Cottbus in Brandenburg was known for its energy production in East Germany, hence the decision to call the club created in 1966 Energie Cottbus. They only spent seven years in the top division behind the Iron Curtain, and only twice was that for more than one season due to the government forcing them to give up their best players to BFC Dynamo. Their best finish in the East German pyramid was in the final season before reunification when they came seventh.
However, their finish in the following season meant they joined the reunified German system in the third tier. Against all the odds, they were promoted to Bundesliga 2 in 1997 – the year they became the second team from outside the top two divisions to reach the DFB Cup final, losing to VfB Stuttgart – and then to the Bundesliga in 2000 as only the third former East German club to achieve promotion to the top flight since reunification. Cottbus made history in April of that season against Wolfsburg as the first Bundesliga team to name a starting XI that didn’t feature a single German player.
They enjoyed three seasons in the Bundesliga, which would become a feature of their history, with fans referring to the ‘three-year rule’. It saw the club change league every three years over a span of 25 years, either via promotion, relegation or qualification for a newly formed league level. The cycle finally ended in 2012 when they extended their stay in Bundesliga 2 to a fourth and subsequently fifth year. Cottbus then spent two years in the 3. Liga and two in the fourth tier, which is where they still play after missing out on promotion in the 2023 play-offs.
Notable former players to ply their trade at the Stadion der Freundschaft include former USA international and later USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter, current Cologne boss Steffen Baumgart, Canada’s Kevin McKenna, Thomas Tuchel’s assistant Zsolt Löw, ex-goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel and the Bundesliga’s all-time top-scoring substitute Nils Petersen.