Fortuna Düsseldorf Fanzone: Get to know the Bundesliga 2 club offering free tickets to fans
After a couple of memorable seasons in the Bundesliga, Fortuna Düsseldorf returned to Bundesliga 2 at the start of 2020/21, but the plucky Rhinelanders are already plotting their path back to the German top flight - and offering free tickets to home fans along the way!
Fortuna have yo-yoed between the first and fourth tiers this millennium, with the fourth tier, where Düsseldorf languished between 1999 and 2008, particularly galling for a club that won the German title in 1933. The zenith – to date – was the 1970s, a decade during which F95 won the first of two DFB Cups and reached the European Cup Winners' Cup final in Basel in 1979, only to lose to Barcelona after extra-time. They also claimed a 7-1 victory over Bayern Munich in December 1978, which to date remains Bayern’s heaviest away defeat in the Bundesliga.
F95, as they are known locally, were called Fortuna because that was the name of a bakery in the working-class district of Flingen (explaining the club's nickname: Die Flingeraner), which caught the hungry founding fathers' eyes when they were establishing the club in 1895.
German championship (1933)
2x DFB Cups (1979, 1980)
2x Bundesliga 2 champions (1989, 2018)
Daniel Thioune took the reins midway through the 2021/22 season, steering Fortuna away from the relegation zone by going unbeaten in his first 12 matches. The 48-year-old completed the same DFB coaching course as Julian Nagelsmann and Domenico Tedesco in 2016, before taking his first head coaching job in 2017 at VfL Osnabrück, where he starred as a prolific midfielder between 1996 and 2002. In 2018/19 he won promotion to Bundesliga 2 with Osnabrück and managed to keep them up the following year. He then had a season-long stint with Hamburg before replacing Christian Preußer in the Fortuna hotseat. Under his stewardship, the club have once again been battling at the business end of the table, although they are set to miss out on promotion in 2022/23.
Polish striker Dawid Kownacki returned from a six-month loan with Lech Poznan at the start of 2022/23, and that brief spell back home clearly did him the world of good. The 26-year-old has racked up 14 goals in all competitions, including 12 in Bundesliga 2 - having failed to net in the second division at all during an injury-hit 2021/22. Kownacki also enjoys a big occasion, having netted in games against promotion contenders Paderborn, Heidenheim and Hamburg, and got an assist in a recent win over leaders Darmstadt.
Fortuna kicked off 2021/22 with just one win in five outings, and a run of four straight defeats either side of the winter break left them down in 16th, and facing the bleak prospect of a return to the third tier. However, Thioune came in and immediately steadied the ship by overseeing back-to-back wins over Schalke and Erzgebirge Aue. F95 remained unbeaten until the final day of the campaign, when they lost 2-0 away to St. Pauli, but a run of six wins and six draws ensured a comfortable mid-table finish, and laid the foundations for a much-improved 2022/23.
Watch: Fortuna stunned Borussia Dortmund during their last spell in the Bundesliga
Düsseldorf's Merkur Spiel-Arena is a fine example of the top-class stadiums that can be found around Germany, even in the second tier. Although it didn't host group games at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the 54,600-seater arena will be a venue at UEFA Euro 2024, while Fortuna made a sensational announcement in April 2022: fans will soon be able to attend home games free of charge, with the club's sponsors making up for the shortfall in matchday revenue.
Previously known as the LTU Arena and Esprit Arena, the Merkur has also hosted several Wladimir Klitschko boxing bouts, countless concerts, the Eurovision Song Contest and the 2010 Race of Champions, which featured Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.
The capital of Germany's most populous region, Düsseldorf is an advertising and fashion hub – home to the country's modelling industry – and is also famous for its Altbier, a locally brewed dark beer. It's also a cultural hub. The world-famous band Kraftwerk – whose song The Model references the thriving fashion industry – hail from Düsseldorf, while Heinrich Heine, one of Germany's most famous poets, was born there in 1797. Just don't mention fierce regional rivals Cologne.
Düsseldorf International is Germany’s third-busiest airport, and serves over 190 destinations worldwide. Flying in to nearby Cologne or the Netherlands are viable alternatives, especially given the affordability and efficiency of Germany’s fast and regional train networks, of which Düsseldorf is a major hub.
Getting to the Merkur Spiel-Arena
The stadium itself is located in the north of the city, roughly four miles from the central train station. From there, take the metro (U-bahn) line U78 to Merkur Spiel-Arena/Messe Nord; you can also hop on in the historic old town at Heinrich-Heine Allee. The journey takes no more than 20 minutes. As with all Bundesliga matches, a ticket to the game also serves as your ticket for public transport.
Tickets can be bought via the official club website HERE - although if you can afford to be a bit patient, you might get to enjoy a game at the Merkur Spiel-Arena for free! The club is planning to pilot its new 'Fortuna For All' project during the 2023/24 season, before fully implementing the scheme in the coming years.
Buy the kit
You can get your own Fortuna jersey - sadly not free this time - from the official club shop.
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