60 years of Bundesliga

Bundesliga club-by-club historical guide: Fortuna Düsseldorf


Having been one of the Bundesliga's leading lights in the 1970s, Fortuna have battled to restore their former stature since.

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.

Fortuna Düsseldorf
Years in Bundesliga:
25 (1966/67, 1971-87, 1989-92, 1995-97, 2012/13, 2018-20)
Most appearances: Gerd Zewe (440)
Most goals:
Klaus Allofs (71)
Youngest player:
Frank Kirn (17 years, eight months, one day)

The name Fortuna – that of the Roman goddess of fate and fortune – was inspired by a horse-drawn carriage from a bread factory called Fortuna that happened to pass by the club’s founders in 1912, although the current club traces its roots back to 5 May 1895 with Turnverein Flingern 1895. Apart from being champions in 1933, fortune hasn’t necessarily followed Düsseldorf. Their maiden Bundesliga season in 1966/67 saw them beat Borussia Dortmund in their opening match but also ended in relegation.

They returned in 1971/72, playing at the Rheinstadion, newly constructed for the 1974 FIFA World Cup, and enjoying a 16-year unbroken stint in the Bundesliga during what would be the most successful period in the club’s history. Back-to-back third-place finishes in 1972/73 and 1973/74 are their best in the Bundesliga era. In December 1978, they inflicted a 7-1 loss on Bayern Munich that remains the record champions’ heaviest away defeat in the Bundesliga.

Gerd Zewe (r.) made a total of 440 Bundesliga appearance for Fortuna Düsseldorf between 1972 and 1987. - imago sportfotodienst

Die Flingeraner – so named due to their establishment as a gymnastics club in the village of Flingern – reached three consecutive DFB Cup finals in 1978, 1979 and 1980, winning the latter two and setting the competition record for most consecutive games won (18). That run also saw them become the only German club to compete in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup three years on the spin, famously losing the 1978/79 final in extra-time to Barcelona (4-3) having only qualified as cup runner-up to arch-rivals Cologne, who won the domestic double.

The stars of that era were record appearance holder Gerd Zewe and the Allofs brothers Klaus and Thomas. Klaus is the only Fortuna player to finish as the Bundesliga’s top scorer, with 22 goals in 1978/79. He was also top scorer at Euro 1980, which Germany won. The club’s fortunes have fluctuated wildly since those days, being relegated from the Bundesliga five more times and dropping as low as the fourth tier in the early 2000s.

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