Fortuna Köln once competed with local force 1. FC Köln but they have tumbled down the divisions, despite Michael Schumacher's best efforts.
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.
SC Fortuna Köln
Years in Bundesliga: 1 (1973/74)
Most appearances: Wolfgang Fahrian (34)
Most goals: Rolf Kucharski and Karl-Heinz Struth (both nine)
Youngest player: Lothar Wesseler (19 years, 10 months, 17 days)
Fortuna were founded just eight days after 1. FC Köln as the city of Cologne tried to create at least one powerful team from all the local district sides in the Cathedral City. It was ultimately Effzeh that became the region’s dominant team, with Fortuna being somewhat restricted to prominence in the south of the city around their Südstadion home. They only emerged from the shadows in 1973 with Bundesliga promotion.
They finished 17th, only behind Wuppertal on goal difference, to be relegated in their first and only season. In contrast to many teams, Fortuna stabilised in Bundesliga 2 and spent 26 uninterrupted years at that level. They would reach the 1983 DFB Cup final, losing 1-0 to arch-rivals Cologne. The pair were reunited in Bundesliga 2 in 1998/99, with Fortuna winning both games (4-2 and 3-0) but still finishing below them in the table. The hopes of creating any sort of shift in the local footballing landscape were ended the year after when Effzeh earned promotion and Fortuna were relegated.
And when financial backer Jean Löring declared bankruptcy, the club fell into trouble as well and was on the verge of insolvency in 2003. To help try and stave off the financial demise, fans started a telethon and had artist Cornel Wachter come up with ideas. One of the most famous was a naked photo of the team and coaches that prompted mass donations. Wachter also tried a fundraising campaign and organised the Fortuna Kart Cup with Rolf and Michael Schumacher at their indoor track in Kerpen.
However, they’d still drop to the fourth tier and midway through 2004/05 had to withdraw the first team from the league. They started afresh in the fifth tier the following year and climbed back to the 3. Liga in 2014, but have been back in the Regionalliga since 2019.