Often a mystery wrapped in an enigma, the tale of Kickers Offenbach's time in the Bundesliga provokes intrigue aplenty.
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: 7 (1968/69, 1970/71, 1972-76, 1983/84)
Most appearances: Sigfried Held (133)
Most goals: Erwin Kostedde (52)
Youngest player: Michael Bordt (18 years, 24 days)
Ask anybody associated with Offenbach and they will tell you they should have been one of the 16 founding members of the Bundesliga. They were ranked fifth in the 12-year ranking for the Oberliga Süd, which was granted five places in the new league, but were denied by 1860 Munich’s title win, despite them ranking seventh.
The club launched appeals and even accused local rivals Eintracht Frankfurt of blocking their entry, but it was all to no avail.
The Kickers finally reached the big time in 1968 but went straight back down, back up, back down and back up again before enjoying a four-year stint that produced a best finish of seventh in 1972/73.
They were implicated in the Bundesliga match-fixing scandal in 1970/71, when they were relegated anyway. That came a year after they’d just made history as the first team from outside the top tier to lift the DFB Cup. Yet even that wasn’t quite what it seemed.
They had started the 1969/70 season in the second tier, but the 1970 World Cup meant the latter rounds of the cup took place in the weeks before 1970/71 kicked off. It meant that they were already a Bundesliga team then and could use their new squad.
As a result, Winfried Schäfer held the unusual honour of being Bundesliga champion with Borussia Mönchengladbach and DFB Cup winner with Offenbach in the 1969/70 season after he’d switched in the summer.
There was no asterisk attached to their 1971/72 record, however, as they became German football’s Invincibles by remaining unbeaten in all 36 league games in the Regionalliga Süd campaign. No other team in Germany’s top two divisions has ever enjoyed a defeat-free league campaign. They also remained unbeaten in all six play-off fixtures to seal their Bundesliga return.
Offenbach made their mark in the Bundesliga on the opening day of the 1974/75 season when, under Otto Rehhagel, they thrashed reigning domestic and European champions Bayern Munich 6-0 – their biggest Bundesliga win – to go top of the table for the first time ever.
Revenge followed on their one-season return in 1983/84 when thumped 9-0 in Munich for their heaviest defeat in history.
The Kickers then made unwanted history as the first team to suffer back-to-back relegations from the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 via table positions (two other clubs had dropped down after having licences revoked) and found themselves in the third tier in 1985 for the first time in their history.
Financial issues have seen Offenbach since flit between the second and fourth levels, where they’ve spent the last decade.