Stuttgarter Kickers once had legend Jürgen Klinsmann on their books while they graced the Bundesliga heights on just two occasions in the late 1980s and early '90s.
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: 2 (1988/89, 1991/92)
Most appearances: Ralf Vollmer (62)
Most goals: Marcus Marin (13)
Youngest player: Dirk Fengler (19 years, eight days)
The Kickers were once the preeminent team in Stuttgart and the region, being Württemberg champions 14 years in a row between 1901 and 1914. They were also national runners-up in 1908 to Berliner Viktoria – the team upon which the Kickers had based their colours of blue, white and black in 1899.
They and VfB Stuttgart proved equally popular locally until the Kickers’ fortunes went downhill after World War II. They were in the second tier at the time the Bundesliga was formed in 1963, being allocated to the Regionalliga Süd.
The Kickers remained in the division below the Bundesliga for a quarter of a century and notably reached the DFB Cup final as a second-tier side in 1986/87. The following year, they topped the Bundesliga 2 table to reach the top flight for the first time in 1988, but were immediately relegated again – only on goal difference behind Eintracht Frankfurt – in 17th. After two seasons in the second division, they were back again after beating St. Pauli in a deciding third play-off match.
Their return in 1991/92 saw them compete in the only 20-team Bundesliga season following reunification. Again, they finished 17th – this time fourth from bottom – and again it was close, falling just a point short of Wattenscheid in safety, but again they went straight back down. The following 15 years would be spent between Bundesliga 2 and the third tier, while they had been stuck on the fifth rung of the pyramid for the last five years before a return to the Regionalliga in 2023.
The Kickers’ Waldau-Stadion is the oldest stadium in Germany where football is still played, having been their home since 1905. No club has played their home games at the same place for as long, but no Bundesliga matches have actually been hosted there. Security reasons meant their fixtures in 1988/89 and 1991/92 had to be played across the city at VfB’s Neckarstadion.
The two clubs have also shared some prominent players. Although best known for their spells at VfB, the likes of Karl Allgöwer, Jürgen Klinsmann and Fredi Bobic all previously played for the Kickers. Klinsmann was even the youngest player to make a senior appearance for the club, aged 17 years and 240 days when he faced Freiburg in Bundesliga 2 in March 1982. He held that club record for 35 years.