Bundesliga fans watch out: Fortuna Düsseldorf are back, and we are here to guide you on a trip to the North Rhine-Westphalia capital.
Fortuna have yo-yoed between the first and fourth tiers this millennium, with the fourth tier, where Düsseldorf languished between 1999 and 2008, particularly galling for a club that won the German title in 1933. The zenith – to date – was the 1970s, a decade during which F95 won the first of two DFB Cups and reached the European Cup Winners' Cup final in Basel in 1979, only to lose to Barcelona after extra time.
F95, as they are known locally, were called Fortuna because that was the name of a bakery in the working-class district of Flingen (explaining the club's nickname: Die Flingeraner), which caught the hungry founding fathers' eyes when they were establishing the club. Of the Bundesliga’s current 18 clubs, only Hertha Berlin (1892) and VfB Stuttgart (1893) have been in existence longer than Fortuna (1895).
1x German championship (1933)
2x DFB Cups (1979, 1980)
2x Bundesliga 2 champions (1989, 2018)
Friedhelm Funkel achieved a record sixth promotion to the top flight last term, and deserves plenty of credit for stabilising a faltering club after his arrival in March 2016. This latest promotion is testament to two years of hard, unheralded work. He has taken charge of over 450 games as a coach in the Bundesliga, following previous spells with Bayer Uerdingen, Duisburg, Hansa Rostock, Cologne, Eintracht Frankfurt and Hertha.
Rouwen Hennings, the former Burnley forward who hit the net 13 times in 33 appearances last season (including the last-minute winner that secured promotion in Dresden). It's not just his goalscoring that makes him so valuable to this Fortuna unit, though: Hennings' relentless running up top creates plenty of space for the creative players behind him. Only having spent one season in the top flight – despite coming through the ranks at Hamburg – the 30-year-old fully deserves another shot at the big time.
Relegated from the Bundesliga in 2013, Fortuna belatedly bounced back as Bundesliga 2 champions after beating second-placed Nuremberg 3-2 on the final day of the 2017/18 season. They didn’t top the scoring charts - that honour went to Holstein Kiel - but they did post the highest number of wins (19), as well as the division’s best home record (34 points) and second-best away return (29 points).
Hennings finished top scorer, ahead of Benito Raman (10), Takashi Usami (8), Florian Neuhaus (6) and Marcel Sobottka (4). At the other end, a settled back line in front of former Werder Bremen custodian Raphael Wolf collectively formed the joint-fifth-meanest defence in the league (44 goals conceded).
Düsseldorf's Merkur Spiel-Arena will be a fine addition to the Bundesliga's selection of top-class stadiums. Although it did not host group games at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the 54,600-seater arena will be a venue at UEFA EURO 2024, should Germany beat Turkey to host the competition. Previously known as the LTU and Esprit Arena, it has also hosted several Wladimir Klitschko fights, countless music concerts, the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest and the 2010 Race of Champions, which included Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.
The capital of Germany's most populous region, Dusseldorf is an advertising and fashion hub – home to the country's modelling industry – and is also famous for its Altbier, a locally brewed dark beer. It's also a cultural hub: the world-famous band Kraftwerk – whose song The Model references the thriving fashion industry – hail from Dusseldorf, while Heinrich Heine, one of Germany's most famous poets, was born there in 1797. Just don’t mention fierce regional rivals Cologne.
Dusseldorf international is Germany’s third-busiest airport, and serves over 190 destinations worldwide. Flying in to nearby Cologne or the Netherlands are viable alternatives, especially given the affordability and efficiency of Germany’s fast- and regional train networks.
The stadium itself is located in the north of the city, roughly four miles from the central train station. From there, take the metro (U-bahn) line U78 to Merkur Spiel-Arena/Messe Nord; you can also hop on in the historic old town at Heinrich-Heine Allee. The journey takes no more than 20 minutes. As with all Bundesliga matches, a ticket to the game also serves as your ticket for public transport.
Tickets can still be bought via the official club website HERE.
Watch on TV
If you can’t make it to the stadium, Bundesliga matches are broadcast around the world. FOX Sports and Univision provide coverage in the United States, while BT Sports are the exclusive broadcaster in the United Kingdom. In Germany, Sky Sports show the majority of matches, with Eurosport hosting one match per week.
Buying the kit
You can get your own Fortuna jersey from the official club shop.
Stateside fan clubs
Fortuna are yet to pitch up across the pond, but they do have fan clubs in the UK, Holland and Spain.