Paderborn may still be a largely unknown quantity to many a follower of the German game but fear not, bundesliga.com is on hand to apprise you of a handful of useful titbits pertaining to the top tier’s latest newcomer.
It’s name deriving from the river Pader - Germany's shortest at all of four kilometres long - and ‘Born’, a German word meaning ‘spring’ or ‘river source’, Paderborn is a mid-size town some 100km away from Dortmund in eastern North-Rhine Westphalia, with a population of just under 150,000. Paderborn has been twinned with the French town of Le Mans since 836 and is home not only to the most successful squash club in Germany, but also the largest computer museum in the world.
From 1957 up until 2008, Paderborn played their home fixtures at the Hermann-Löns-Stadion and hardcore fans hail it as the symbolic home of SCP, overhead electric power lines et al. For the past six years, though, Paderborn have been playing at the Benteler Arena - formerly known as the paragon arena (2008) and the ENERGIETEAM ARENA (2009-2012). Friday evening matches are a no-no here following complaints from local residents. On a more positive note, the stadium provides no fewer than 1,900 bicycle parking spaces for local fans.
On 14 August 1907, a group of 20 friends founded Arminia Neuhaus, Paderborn's first football club and, alongside FC Preußen Paderborn, SV 07 Neuhaus and TuS Sennelager, was one of the quartet of sides which eventually produced the current-day outfit. In 1985, on the back of various other mergers, TuS Schloss Neuhaus, joined forces with rivals 1. FC Paderborn to form TuS Paderborn-Neuhaus, which was then renamed SC Paderborn 07 in 1997.
One glance at the Bundesliga table and Traditionsvereine are the first things that jump out at you. While Paderborn - with the smallest capacity ground in Germany’s top flight (15,000) - “aren’t exactly the centre of the footballing world,” as then-coach Roger Schmidt put it back in 2012, they and their fan base are growing. “Paderborn was not inherently a football town, but it’s evolving the whole time and now we’re riding a wave of euphoria,” said stalwart Markus Krösche after winning promotion.
Since 1985, Paderborn have worked hard to earn their place amongst Germany’s best. Skipper Markus Krösche often talks about “playing in front of 600 people in the Hermann-Löns-Stadion, with no merchandise, with virtually nothing” back when he joined in 2001 following Paderborn’s promotion from the fourth tier. A steady ascent over the next four seasons culminated in a second-place finish and a first venture into the Bundesliga 2 under Pavel Dochev in 2005.
A demotion and a promotion later and SCP went on to record two fifth-place finishes between 2009 and 2012, the latter under Roger Schmidt and it is the man recently appointed head coach of Bayer Leverkusen who can be credited with turning Paderborn into the counter-attacking threat they are today. After taking the team to within a point of promotion in 2011/12, Schmidt was snapped up by FC RB Salzburg and replaced by his namesake Stephan, who struggled to emulate his predecessor’s achievements.
Having secured his coaching badges at the age of 35 and successfully developed relegation-threatened TSV Havelse into a top contender in the fourth tier, Andre Breitenreiter (pictured) was handed the reigns as the successor to Stephan Schmidt ahead of the 2013/14 campaign. He demonstrated a penchant for tinkering with his line-up, utilising several different systems during a difficult start to the season which saw them pick up 23 points in the Hinrunde.
While many believed Paderborn were destined for another mid-table finish, Breitenreiter and his charges had other ideas. Working from the foundation of a distinctly better organised defence, they picked up more points than any other side after the winter break to storm to an historic promotion. “I was praying to the football gods, we’ve made history,” said midfielder Marvin Bakalorz (pictured, l.) after Matchday 34’s club record-breaking 2-1 win against Aalen.
A beer-drenched Breitenreiter maintained that, “It wasn’t fate, but hard work”, which had led to his side’s promotion, giving the likes of midfielder Bakalorz (pictured) reason to claim they had earned the right to “party until we drop”. As if celebrating with 20,000 fans on the town square wasn’t enough, the players then caught a flight to Mallorca at 5am the next morning. “I’m relying on the youngsters when it comes to partying,” admitted Krösche. “They’re more experienced.”
Paderborn boast current VfL Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking amongst their most notable alumni but the unquestionable legend in the club’s ranks is Markus Krösche. The 33-year-old had a special message to the fans at the end of the 2013/14 campaign: “Thinking back on the last week, I still get goose bumps. What we’ve managed to achieve has been an unbelievable experience and now's the time to say thank you, for 13 amazing years.”