A unique club in terms of their faith in young talent and belief in the principles of popular coach Christian Streich, SC Freiburg have long had a tradition of playing football in the right way despite mixed fortunes down the years.
bundesliga.com has looked through the lists of players to have represented the club and put together this all-time XI. See if you agree!
There was stiff competition for this position, with Borussia Dortmund’s Roman Bürki first cutting his Bundesliga teeth at Freiburg, current Hoffenheim No.1 Oliver Baumann a youth product with over 100 first-team appearances and former Cologne sporting director Jörg Schmadtke representing them in their first four Bundesliga seasons. Yet Golz is the man handed the gloves in this team. A true fan favourite in the Black Forest, the crowd would chant “Richie, Richie” whenever he stepped out on the pitch during his 246 appearances for the club. Voted the city of Freiburg’s sportsman of the year in 2000, he kept 65 clean sheets at a time when the club was yo-yoing between the highs of the UEFA Cup in 2001, and the lows of Bundesliga 2. Since retiring as a player, Golz has worked as a goalkeeping coach for Hertha Berlin and the Romania national team.
A local lad who joined the club at the age of just 15, Riether was promoted to the first team in 2002 and immediately became first-choice right-back as Freiburg won promotion to the Bundesliga as champions. The then 20-year-old became even more crucial to the Black Forest outfit in his debut top-flight campaign. Showing his versatility in both defence and midfield, he played all but 117 minutes of the 2003/04 season as Freiburg finished 13th. Despite the club’s relegation the following campaign, Riether is still held in high regard by those in Freiburg, where he returned in 2014 for another season following spells at Wolfsburg, where he was crowned Bundesliga champion in 2009, Cologne and Fulham in England. Since 2015 he has been with Schalke.
Another graduate of the now vaunted Freiburg Fussballschule, Ginter graduated to the first team at the Schwarzwald-Stadion in early 2012 and made his Bundesliga debut just two days after turning 18. Appearing in all but four league games in the second half of the campaign, Ginter played a key role as Freiburg avoided relegation, and the youngster emerged as Die Breisgauer’s defensive lynchpin in the following years. After helping the club into the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League, he was named in the Germany squad that lifted the FIFA World Cup at the end of the season. Ginter joined Dortmund on his return from Brazil, but he remains one of Freiburg’s biggest success stories as the only player in the club’s history to become world champion.
One of two celebrated Georgians in this XI, Levan Kobiashvili was a household name in German football between 1998 and 2014. He enjoyed successful stints with Schalke and Hertha but it was Freiburg that brought him to the Bundesliga in January 1998. Playing his part in getting the club promoted in 1998, Kobiashvili went on to score 36 Bundesliga goals in 185 appearances for the club, including seven goals in 2000/01 as Freiburg finished sixth to qualify for the UEFA Cup. Since 2015 he has been the president of the Georgian Football Federation.
Freiburg’s record appearance holder, Zeyer played 439 games during two spells for the club, including 41 in a single Bundesliga 2 season alone as the Black Forest outfit won promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time in their history. The defensive midfielder continued to impress in the top flight as Freiburg survived their maiden Bundesliga season only on goal difference before a stunning third-place finish in 1994/95, which included a famous 5-1 victory over champions Bayern Munich on Matchday 2. Zeyer’s 236 Bundesliga matches for Freiburg is to this date a club record in the top flight.
Expecting a 22-year-old from Mali to find his feet quickly in Germany was asking a lot. Nevertheless, Coulibaly quickly adapted to the rigours of the Bundesliga on his arrival from Egyptian side Zamalek in 2000. Straight into the first team, he made 28 appearances as his side finished sixth in 2001 and qualified for the UEFA Cup. Relegation followed in 2002 but Coulibaly scored nine goals to help fire the club back into the top flight. He was named club captain in 2006/07, his final season with Freiburg before a transfer to Borussia Mönchengladbach. A key witness to the club’s highs and lows, and a scorer of 43 goals in 234 matches, he enjoys cult status among the Breisgauer faithful.
The second Georgian to make this all-time XI, Iashvili thrilled Freiburg and Bundesliga fans on a regular basis between 1997 and 2007. Another key part of the side that won promotion in his first season, Iashvili went on to score 29 Bundesliga goals for the club and was their record marksman in the top flight until he was overtaken by Papiss Cisse in 2011. After almost 300 appearances for the club he then enjoyed a successful spell at nearby Karlsruhe, but he remains a firm favourite among Freiburg supporters as the non-German with the most appearances at the club. Voted Georgia’s Footballer of the Year in 2004 and 2008, he is currently a vice president of the country’s Football Federation under former teammate Kobiashvili.
The first South American to ever play for Freiburg may only have spent two years in the Black Forest, but the Argentine attacking midfielder fired his way into fans’ hearts at the Schwarzwald-Stadion with 28 goals in just 63 Bundesliga appearances, including two in that 5-1 win over Bayern. Add to that a further 18 assists as Freiburg reached the quarter-finals of the DFB Cup for the first time in their history and achieved that remarkable third-place finish in the Bundesliga, and Cardoso quickly became a firm favourite in Germany’s sunniest city. Joining Werder Bremen in 1995 and then Hamburg a year later, he has coached various youth levels at HSV, taken charge of the first team for four matches as caretaker boss and is now the assistant under Bernd Hollerbach.
Signed from Metz in 2009, Cisse arrived in Germany as an unknown but left the country as one of the foremost strikers in Europe. After 22 goals in his first full Bundesliga campaign (2010/11), he then bagged another nine in the first half of 2011/12 before transferring to Newcastle United. He remains, at the time of writing, Freiburg’s all-time highest Bundesliga goalscorer, with 37 goals.
He is more famous these days as the Germany coach that masterminded Die Mannschaft’s fourth World Cup triumph in 2014, but in Freiburg, Joachim Löw is revered for being the club’s all-time leading scorer, with 82 goals in 262 appearances over three spells between 1978 and 1989. Born in nearby Schönau im Schwarzwald, Löw did not wear the Freiburg shirt in the Bundesliga, but he is a frequent visitor to the Schwarzwald-Stadion and rightly claims a spot in our all-time XI.
Watch: Löw's greatest goal for Freiburg
After a prolific spell with Cottbus in Bundesliga 2, Petersen was snapped up by Bayern in 2011 and then spent two seasons at Bremen, but Freiburg has become the striker’s home in more ways than one. Captain of the club, Streich’s lieutenant on the pitch and the man that bags the important goals, Petersen is Mr. Freiburg. A model professional, he stuck with the club after relegation to the second tier in 2015 and has reinvigorated his career. His 21 goals brought Freiburg back up and he is now just seven shy of eclipsing Cisse as the club’s leading top-flight scorer.
Despite incumbent coach Streich having a great shout at this position thanks to two Europa League qualifications and being loved by both players and fans, Finke is without doubt the man to lead this all-time XI. At the helm for 15 consecutive seasons, he holds the record for an unbroken spell in charge of a professional German football club. During his time at Freiburg, Finke experienced all the highs and lows: qualification for the UEFA Cup, three promotions as well as three relegations – the only coach in the history of German football to oversee three promotions and relegations at one club. Despite taking charge of 606 matches at Sport-Club, Finke still has one of the best win ratios in the club’s history. For many fans, Finke was SC Freiburg, and when it was announced he would be stepping down, members even called an extraordinary general meeting to try and get him to stay – but to no avail.