A total of 57 clubs have had the honour of competing in the Bundesliga over its 60-year history – and no team has played in more campaigns without winning a title than Schalke.
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.
FC Schalke 04
Years in Bundesliga: 54 (1963-1981, 1982/83, 1984-88, 1991-2021, 2022/23)
Most appearances: Klaus Fichtel (477)
Most goals: Klaus Fischer (182)
Youngest player: Julian Draxler (17 years, three months, 26 days)
Schalke hold the rather unwanted record of being the club to have played the most seasons in the Bundesliga without ever lifting the Meisterschale. They came agonisingly close in 2000/01 before an injury-time goal from Bayern Munich took the title away from them on the final day. However, silverware has come in the form of five DFB Cups and the 1998 UEFA Cup. They also hold the honour of being the fourth-largest football club in the world by membership, after Bayern, Portugal’s Benfica and regional rivals Borussia Dortmund.
The Royal Blues hail from Gelsenkirchen, a city built on the coal mining industry of the 19th and 20th centuries. It’s that social backdrop that still shapes the club today, and mining remains a key element, such as in their nickname Die Knappen (the miners) and the Veltins-Arena tunnel, which is mocked up as a coal mine. Their Knappenschmiede academy is also famed for unearthing and promoting a multitude of young players, including Manuel Neuer, Leroy Sane, Mesut Özil, Ilkay Gündogan, Weston McKennie. The list goes on and on…
Watch: Red-hot rivalry - the Revierderby
They are another founding member and remained in the Bundesliga until 1981. A turbulent decade followed with three relegations but two promotions back. They returned in 1991 and would remain until 2021. A rebuild in Bundesliga 2 went to plan as they came back up again as champions, but an immediate relegation again in 2023 leaves their future in the balance once more. They will lose their status as one of three teams to have faced every other possible Bundesliga club, as they miss out on games against Heidenheim in 2023/24.
It also leaves German football without one of its biggest fixtures again. Schalke’s rivalry with near neighbours Dortmund is known as the Revierderby – or the ‘Mother of all derbies’, given how huge the fixture has become. They’ve produced some of the greatest matches in Bundesliga history with some astonishing comebacks. There have also been some of the strangest moments, like when a police dog called bit Schalke’s Friedel Rausch on the backside during a game in Dortmund in September 1969. He was given a tetanus shot and finished the match.
Watch: The infamous dog bite incident
In response, Schalke president Günther Siebert had lions greet the teams on the field in the reverse fixture.