Undisputedly the giants of German football, Bayern Munich have 27 Bundesliga titles, 18 DFB Cups and five UEFA Champions League crowns in their enviably bulging trophy cabinet.

There is more to the Bavarians than 'just' being a highly successful football club, though. Here are 10 things about Germany's record champions, courtesy of bundesliga.com

1) New kids on the block

Bayern are now the club with the longest unbroken presence in the Bundesliga, following the relegation of founding members Hamburg, but it may come as a surprise to many to discover that they were actually overlooked when the inaugural Bundesliga began. Back in 1963, 1860 Munich, rather than Bayern, were the city's dominant side. Having just won the Oberliga South, 1860 qualified along with four other teams from the division - including Eintracht Frankfurt and VfB Stuttgart - to form part of the newly founded Bundesliga, which brought together 16 clubs from the country's five regional leagues.

Watch: All you need to know about Bayern Munich

Bayern were naturally disappointed. After all, they had come third in the Oberliga South that year - above Frankfurt, Karlsruher and Stuttgart - but the DFB only allowed a single representative per city, and so champions 1860 got the nod. Bayern would have to wait until 1965/66 before they won promotion to the top tier, although those extra few years in the Oberliga, as it turned out, would be a major blessing in disguise.

2) Back to the grassroots

With their finances in disarray, Bayern were forced to shed their expensive stars and go back to the drawing board, developing talented youngsters from the local region and forging their own youth system. Those players included the remarkable trio of Gerd Müller, Sepp Maier and, in particular, Franz Beckenbauer, who would have a profound impact on the club's development in the 1970s.

Bayern's golden trio of Gerd Müller, Sepp Maier and Franz Beckenbauer (l-r.) were the club's first homegrown talents to reach global superstar status. © imago / imago/Sven Simon

3) Der Kaiser

The history of Bayern could arguably have been very different were it not for an infamous youth tournament in 1959. Beckenbauer had grown up idolising Fritz Walter, Germany's 1954 FIFA World Cup-winning captain, and as a 14-year-old he was an aspiring centre-forward with SC 1906 Munich. The trouble was, SC 1906 had run into financial trouble and could no longer afford to run their youth teams - so Beckenbauer and his teammates decided to join the 1860 academy instead. After all, 1860 were his favourite club and it had always been his dream to play for them.

Franz 'Der Kaiser' Beckenbauer did not originally intend to end up at Bayern. © imago / WEREK

The U14 tournament in Neubiberg changed all that: Beckenbauer's SC 1906 team came up against 1860 in the final and things took an ugly turn, with the future Germany captain even coming to blows with the opposition centre-back. The incident changed his mind about going to 1860, and he finished up on Bayern's books instead.

The rest, as they say, is history. Beckenbauer captained Bayern to three consecutive Bundesliga titles between 1972 and 1974, and enhanced his growing international reputation by helping Germany win the 1972 UEFA European Championship and the 1974 FIFA World Cup. Winner of the Ballon d'Or in 1972, he was honoured again in 1976 as Bayern extended their dominance to the continent, claiming three consecutive European Cups between 1974 and 1976.

4) Unrivalled success

Bayern are by far and away the most successful club in Germany, with a staggering total of 27 Bundesliga titles, 18 DFB Cups and five UEFA Champions League crowns, as well as a clutch of other domestic and continental trophies. But what makes them stand out from the other giants of the game – such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United - is the sheer enormity of their fan base.

Club legend Bastian Schweinsteiger has won a joint-record eight Bundesliga titles and a record seven DFB Cups. © gettyimages / Christof Stache

The Bavarian giants boast no fewer than 290,000 official club members, which puts them over 100,000 clear of fellow European heavyweights Benfica and Barca. No other sports club in the world can lay claim to such a large membership. The top five is completed by Bundesliga rivals Schalke and Borussia Dortmund, who both have just over 150,000 members.

In terms of social media, Bayern have over 65 million followers over Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – Germany's second most-followed club Dortmund have 24 million.

5) Treble winners

Bayern's success was taken to a new level in the 2012/13 season when they became the one and only German club to win not just one, or two, but three major trophies. That's right, while Cologne, Dortmund and Werder Bremen have all won the Bundesliga and DFB Cup in the same season – with Dortmund achieving that feat last in 2012 – Bayern went one significant step further with victory over Dortmund in the final of the UEFA Champions League in 2013. That was part of a historic treble won under Jupp Heynckes, who bowed out in some style having done something never before achieved by a German club.

Watch: The highlights of that record-smashing season

6) Homegrown 'ballboy' talents

Beckenbauer, Maier and Gerd Müller were the first but by all means not the last Bavaria-born talents to rise to the top of the game just a stone's throw from where they first saw the light of day. Indeed, not only is Bayern's youth academy one of the most prosperous around, it succeeds also in finding and nurturing players from within the region. Philipp Lahm was born in Munich and grew up in his family home in the suburb of Gern. He followed in Beckenbauer's footsteps by lifting the FIFA World Cup, while his 517 appearances for the club he first fell in love with when he was a ball boy at the Olympiastadion only sum up statistically the role he played at a club he joined at the age of 11.

He was not the only local ball-boy-turned-terrace-hero, with Bastian Schweinsteiger also seeing the stars from behind the advertising boards, before becoming one on the other side of it. "It was always fantastic being up close to the pitch, watching the stars," he once said on Bayern's official website. "[Giovane] Elber, [Oliver] Kahn, [Jens] Jeremies, [Thomas] Linke, [Mehmet] Scholl – and a couple of years later, I was playing alongside them. I also watched them train as often as I could, after I’d cycled back from school to the club’s youth lodging. I recall once being the only person at the training ground, and I spent ages watching Owen Hargreaves all on his own, playing a ball against a wooden bench and trapping the rebound. He’d already signed a pro contract back then."

Thomas Müller relaxing at a Germany press conference, perhaps laughing about what happened the first time he took to the podium. © imago / MIS

Being a ball boy is one thing, but being confused as one when you are playing for your country is another, and that is the fate which befell the Weilheim in Oberbayern-born Thomas Müller. In March 2010, Müller was fielding questions at a press conference in Munich's Allianz Arena after Germany had just faced Argentina in a friendly. In walked Diego Maradona, who refused to answer any questions "until that ball boy leaves the room." Müller was escorted out, only to gain sweet revenge a matter of months later at the World Cup, when Germany eliminated Argentina with a 4-0 quarter-final win. "I don't think that he thinks I am a ball boy anymore," he quipped. "I don't think he knew me back then, but he does now."

7) Fans first

The fans are at the heart of Bayern – as they are at every club in the Bundesliga, due to rules which mean they must be majority stakeholders. And if the measure of a big club is its fan base, then Bayern aren't just a big club - they're a massive one.

With almost 300,000 officially paid-up members, 4,327 fan clubs, they have more than doubled – in just a decade – their official number of members.

Watch: James Rodriguez goes native Bavarian at a fan club

Aware of the importance of this 12th man, Bayern hold their many fan clubs in great esteem, and regularly dispatch star players to spend time with supporters, especially during the Oktoberfest and in the run-up to Christmas. As well as committing to various social and charitable initiatives, the club also has a long history of solidarity with other German clubs in financial difficulty, having lent a helping hand to their old rivals 1860, St Pauli, Hansa Rostock and even Dortmund down the years.

The club's policy of putting the fans first has also kept ticket prices down. Bayern may be one of the most successful football teams in the world, but it is still possible to get hold of a season ticket at the Allianz Arena for as little as €140, which works out at around €8 per game. In Munich, it really is fans first.

8) Cathedrals

Bayern do not do things by halves, and that also applies to their home stadium. As they started to outgrow the Grünwalder Stadion in the early 1970s, the decision was taken to move in as tenants at the Olympiastadion, built for the Olympic Games which were staged in the city in 1972. Considered as one of the greatest stadiums at the time, it served its purpose with almost 80,000 seats regularly filled, including for the final of the 1974 FIFA World Cup, until the next major event in Germany – the 2006 World Cup – prompted a move to their current Allianz Arena home.

The Allianz Arena, resplendent following a facelift in 2018.

It took only a matter of years for them to outgrow their new home, though, and the capacity was gradually increased from 66,000 to 75,000. Although already 13 years old, the Allianz Arena – after undergoing a facelift in the summer of 2018 – is still widely regarded as one of the most enchanting venues in world football: a home fit for a king.

9) Founded over a beer

Famed for its beer and Oktoberfest, it stands to reason that Bayern Munich were formed by a bunch of lads enjoying some beer and banter in a bar. Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but Bayern were indeed formed when a document establishing the club was signed by 17 people in the Munich city centre restaurant 'Gisela' in February 1900. It was Franz John from Berlin who raised the idea and he and his 'chums' became the first players of the club that night. Legend has it, they were kicking pieces of pretzel around the restaurant while the ink was still drying.

10) Speaking of beer...

In addition to its football club, the city of Munich is famed for its annual Oktoberfest beer festival. Each year, almost seven million litres of the gold stuff is consumed, with over half a million chickens filling punters' beer-lined bellies. With over seven million visitors annually, it is the largest folk festival in the world – and understandably, Bayern invariably find time in their own packed schedule to pay one of the 14 tents a visit.

James Rodriguez (2nd.l.) experienced Oktoberfest for the first time in September 2017. © gettyimages / Alexandra Beier/Bongarts

Contrary to belief, there are no negative after-effects of these visits either. Indeed, Bayern have not lost a Bundesliga fixture during the Oktoberfest for eight years, while their overall record during the festivities reads 59 wins, 23 draws and just eight defeats in 90 home games.

While revellers are downing Maß after Maß, Bayern are able to sharpen their focus, so much so that Robert Lewandowski struck his legendary five-goal salvo against Wolfsburg during the 2015 Oktoberfest. If that were not an advert for Bavarian beer, then what is?

FC Bayern Munich honours

German Championship/Bundesliga
Winners (28): 1932, 1969, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 (record) 

Winners (18): 1987, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016 (record)

Winners (7):
1987, 1990, 2010, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018 (record)

UEFA Champions League/European Cup
Winners (5):
1974, 1975, 1976, 2001, 2013 

Winners (1): 1996 

UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup
Winners (1): 1967

UEFA Super Cup
Winners (1):

Intercontinental Cup
Winners (2):
1976, 2001

FIFA Club World Cup
Winners (1):

Leading Bundesliga goalscorer: Gerd Müller, 365

Leading Bundesliga appearance-maker: Sepp Maier, 473

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