The Clover Leaves of Greuther Fürth are three-time champions of Germany but less lucky in the Bundesliga - yet they boast a former US Secretary of State super-fan.
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.
SpVgg Greuther Fürth
Years in Bundesliga: 2 (2012/13, 2021-present)
Most appearances: Branimir Hrgota (34)
Most goals: Branimir Hrgota (nine)
Youngest player: Abdul Rahman Baba (18 years, two months, 23 days)
Fürth are three-time champions of Germany and were in fact once the longest reigning champions. That is a slight technicality since they were the last team to win the title – beating VfB Leipzig 3-2 in a marathon 153-minute encounter – before World War I, which resulted in no title being contested for six years. But they would win it again in 1926 and 1929 during a golden era that even saw them claim international wins over Real Madrid (1923), Barcelona (1926) and Juventus (1930). Fürth were almost always in the top tier prior to the Bundesliga’s introduction in 1963, before an unbroken 20-year stint in the second-tier Regionalliga and Bundesliga 2.
Debts saw the team struggle and drop to the fourth tier by 1983. A turning point is seen as August 1990 when they beat Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Cup despite playing with 10 men for 88 minutes. That season they returned to the third tier and in 1996 they merged with TSV Vestenbergsgreuth – a lower-league club famous for knocking Bayern Munich out the DFB Cup in 1994/95. The new team, the one now known as SpVgg Greuther Fürth, then came up to Bundesliga 2 in 1997. No club has spent as many seasons in Bundesliga 2 as the Clover Leaves. A fact that saw them sometimes mockingly called the ‘unpromotables’, but they finally did it in 2012 under Mike Büskens.
However, the joy around the Bavarian city of facing Bayern first up and getting a maiden Bundesliga win at Mainz on Matchday 2 was short-lived. They finished rock bottom with only four victories and the first team ever to complete a Bundesliga season without winning a single game at home. They almost came straight back up but were beaten on away goals by Hamburg in the play-off. A barnstorming 2021 in Bundesliga 2 saw them finish runners-up and earn promotion once again. Their historic first Bundesliga home win came in December of that year – at a record 24th attempt (1-0 vs. Union Berlin) – but it couldn’t spare them from another rock-bottom finish.
Although the city of Fürth is often dwarfed by neighbour Nuremberg, the club does have one internationally renowned former player and fan. Heinz Alfred Kissinger, better known as United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, was a child when the club won their last two championships and played for them in his youth. He remained a fan even after his family fled the Nazis to the US and in the pre-internet days would find out about results via the German embassy in the States. After Fürth earned Bundesliga promotion for the first time in 2012, he fulfilled a promise to himself and went to watch their second home game in the top flight against Schalke on 15 September 2012.