bundesliga.com presents ten things you might not have known about the North Rhine-Westphalia club, who will be looking to establish themselves in the top tier in the coming years...
1. FC Köln are based in Cologne, Germany's fourth largest city behind Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. Located on the river Rhine, it is the largest city in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, while the famous Cologne carnival is one of the largest street festivals in Europe. The Carnival season officially starts on 11 November and continues until Ash Wednesday. Hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to Cologne during this time, with the majority of the bars and pubs crowded with people in costumes.
Köln were formed in 1948 as a merger of Kölner BC 1901 and SpVgg Sülz 07. The latter won the West German title in 1928 and went on to play in the Gauliga Mittelrhein league, one of sixteen top-flight divisions established in 1933 in the re-organisation of German football under the Third Reich. Sülz struggled until they merged with VfL Köln 1899 at the beginning of the 1943-44 season to form the wartime club Kriegspielgemeinschaft VfL 99/Sülz 07, which promptly won the Gauliga Köln-Aachen title by a single point.
The Geißböcke were the first ever winners of the Bundesliga in 1963/64, and went on to reach the quarter-finals of the European Cup the following season, where they were knocked out by a toss of a coin after drawing three consecutive games with English champions Liverpool FC. Köln have only won the Bundesliga once since then - in the 1977/78 season - but they have won the DFB Cup on four occasions (in 1968/69, 1977/78, 1978/79 and 1983/1984).
One of Köln's most well-known players was keeper Harald 'Toni' Schumacher, who made 422 appearances for the Billy Goats. Outside Germany, Schumacher is perhaps best known for his challenge on Frenchman Patrick Battiston at the 1982 FIFA World Cup, which caused the defender to lose consciousness. Schumacher's biography, published in 1987, went on to create more controversy as it included detailed accounts of alleged substance abuse by German football players. Schumacher was subsequently banned by Köln and the German national team.
Lukas Podolski is another player Köln fans are unlikely to forget in a hurry. 'Poldi' helped his side earn promotion to the Bundesliga in 2005, but was snapped up by FC Bayern München a year later. Playing time was at a premium for Podolski at the record titleholders, however, and he returned to his home club in 2009. He scored 33 goals in 88 appearances during his second spell, before leaving to join English Premier League side Arsenal FC in 2012 after Köln were relegated to Bundesliga 2.
The club's main rivals are Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Fortuna Düsseldorf - all of which are located on the river Rhine. Düsseldorf's failure to return to the Bundesliga at the first time of asking means Köln won't be playing Fortuna next season, but their fans can look forward to league encounters with die Werkself and the Foals in 2014/15. Köln have lost their last four encounters with Gladbach, but managed to beat Leverkusen 4-1 on their last trip to the BayArena.
Köln are also one of the few German sides to have reached the Europa League (formerly the UEFA Cup) final, losing 5-3 on aggregate to Spanish giants Real Madrid CF in the 1985/86 campaign. Köln managed to beat Madrid 2-0 in front of their own fans, but were unable to overturn a 5-1 defeat from the first leg in Madrid. En route to the final, the Billy Goats recorded victories over KSV Waregem, Sporting Club de Portugal, Hammarby IF, FK Bohemians Praha and Sportin Gijon.
Köln's nickname die Geißböcke ("the Billy Goats") refers to the club's mascot, a male goat named Hennes after their former player and manager Hennes Weisweiler. The original Hennes was donated to the club by a circus entrepreneur as a Cologne carnival joke in February 1950. Since 24 July 2008, Hennes VIII has been the acting mascot. Hennes, who is present at every Köln home match, will be one of only two living mascots in the Bundesliga in the 2014/15 season, the other being 'Attila', Eintracht Frankfurt's eagle.
Köln hold the unenviable record of the worst goal drought in Bundesliga history. The club went 1034 minutes without finding the net during the 2001/2002 season, until Polish-born defender Thomas Cichon (pictured) finally ended the barren run on 2 February with the equalising goal in a 1-1 draw with Hertha Berlin. The previous record was held by 1. FC Saarbrücken, who went 964 minutes without a goal during the 1992/1993 Bundesliga campaign.
The club plays its home matches at the RheinEnergie Stadion, which has a capacity of just over 50,000. Known by most fans as the "Müngersdorfer Stadion" due to its location in the suburb of Müngersdorf, the stadium hosted several matches at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, including the last 16 encounter between Switzerland and Ukraine. Germany also sealed qualification to the 2014 tournament at the RheinEnergie Stadion, beating the Republic of Ireland 3-0 in their final qualifyer to finish top of Group C.
Check out the Billy Goats taking receipt of the 2013/14 Bundesliga 2 championship trophy on the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: