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FIFA World Cup winner Jürgen Kohler's glittering career started at Mannheim. - © Imago
FIFA World Cup winner Jürgen Kohler's glittering career started at Mannheim. - © Imago
60 years of Bundesliga

Bundesliga club-by-club historical guide: SV Waldhof Mannheim

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The likes of Jürgen Kohler, Christian Wörns and Hakan Calhanoglu cut their teeth at former Bundesliga side Waldhof Mannheim.

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.

SV Waldhof Mannheim
Years in Bundesliga:
 7 (1983-90)
Most appearances: Uwe Zimmermann (215)
Most goals:
Fritz Walter (55)
Youngest player:
Christian Wörns (17 years, three months, 30 days)

The city of Mannheim – officially the University City of Mannheim – may often be referred to Germany’s Havard, but they’ve not quite been Ivy League standard when it comes to football, with only seven seasons in the Bundesliga to boast about.

It was an unbroken spell between 1983 and 1990 that saw a best finish of sixth in just their second campaign. 

Waldhof established themselves thanks to their academy work, promoting young players such as Jürgen Kohler, Christian Wörns and Maurizio Gaudino, who all went on to represent Germany.

The 1985/86 Mannheim squad. - imago sportfotodienst

Karlheinz Förster, who earned 81 international caps, was a previous academy player but never featured for the senior side and made his name at VfB Stuttgart. More recently, Turkey’s Hakan Calhanoglu came through the youth system.

Following relegation in 1990, Mannheim came close to bouncing back a number of times but ultimately always fell short and in fact dropped to the third tier in 1997, just three years after their new Carl-Benz-Stadion was opened.

Financial issues have continued to plague the club, which saw their demotion to the fourth tier in 2003 and even the fifth in 2010, where they set a fifth-tier attendance record of 18,313 as they achieved promotion back up. They have since recovered to consolidate in the 3. Liga.

Fritz Walter (l.) scored 55 Bundesliga goals for Mannheim. - imago sportfotodienst

Problems with finances were nothing new, however. Even back in the 1970s, following promotion to the second tier, the club opted to rename itself to Chio Waldhof 07 to bring in 190,000 Deutschmark from snack company Chio Chips. They reverted to their current name of SV Waldhof Mannheim 07 in 1978.

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