Ulm gave the world the Hoeneß brothers and were one of Ralf Rangnick's early projects, but have only managed one solitary season in the Bundesliga.
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.
SSV Ulm 1846
Years in Bundesliga: 1 (1999/2000)
Most appearances: Philipp Laux (34)
Most goals: Hans van de Haar (10)
Youngest player: Ünal Demirkiran (20 years, three months, one day)
Ulm is the club that gave the world the Hoeneß brothers, Dieter and Uli, and was also where Thomas Tuchel spent a good part of his youth career as a player. The team we know now was the result of a 1970 merger between TSG Ulm 1846 and 1. SSV Ulm 1928 that created Germany’s largest sports club at the time with some 8,300 members.
What was hoped would be a rapid ascent didn’t quite pan out and they remained stuck in the third tier until promotion to the Bundesliga 2 Süd in 1979. They would flit between those divisions over the next two decades. Things changed in 1997 with the appointment of a previously unknown coach called Ralf Rangnick, who kickstarted the first of what would become several rapid ascents at clubs over his career. He led them to the Regionalliga Süd title and promotion in his first full season. He stood down late in 1998/99 with the team fifth in Bundesliga 2, but Martin Andermatt took them over the line in third and into the Bundesliga for the first time ever for 1999/2000.
Die Spatzen – so called for the famous Ulm sparrow – were looking safe 24 games into their top-flight existence, sitting 12th and closer to a European place than the drop zone. But a 9-1 loss at home to Bayer Leverkusen sparked a decline that left them needing to win on the final day. A 90th-minute penalty from Eintracht Frankfurt would seal their relegation in 16th place with 35 points. Continuous financial issues saw the club then tumble down the leagues, being automatically demoted from Bundesliga 2 to the fifth tier just a year after their season in the Bundesliga. They’ve spent most years since in the fourth-tier Regionalliga, with four in the Oberliga, before finally achieving promotion to the 3. Liga in 2023.
Ulm continue to hold an unusual Bundesliga record from their single season at the top table. It’s for the most sendings-off in a single game as four players were dismissed in a 2-1 loss at Hansa Rostock. Coach Andermatt was also given his marching orders. More recently, they are the only club from the fifth tier to beat a Bundesliga side in the DFB Cup, knocking out Nuremberg in 2001/02 (2-1).