Der Club have made it! Absent from Germany's top flight for four years, Nuremberg are back in the big time thanks to an eighth successful promotion push into the Bundesliga. And how coach Michael Köllner and his young team will be relishing the prospect of rubbing shoulders with the big boys once more!

Let be your guide to one of Germany's most successful sides ...

Who are Nuremberg?

As one of the forerunners of German football and the Bundesliga, 1. FC Nürnberg - to give them their official title - were founded in 1900 as a rugby club. However, having failed to amass the required numbers for their original sporting endeavour, the founding members opted instead to play football.

On account of their fine on-field displays in the early days, they became known as 'Der Club' and were celebrated and respected throughout the nation as the trophies flowed in during the 1920s. With players of great renown such as Heinrich Stuhlfauth, Peter Szabo, Alfred 'Spezi' Schaffer, Luitpold Popp and Hans Kalb, The Club lifted five of their nine German championships during a glorious decade.

The Bundesliga formed in 1963, Nuremberg would win their only top-flight title to date five years later. An unwelcome first immediately followed, however, with the Bavarian-based side relegated the very next season. Fast forward to the modern era, and after several attempts to maintain their status among the top tier - becoming known as a 'yo-yo- club' - Nuremberg enjoyed a fourth DFB Cup success in 2007 that opened the way to a UEFA Cup appearance. Following a number of attempts at gaining promotion in recent years, including a narrow play-off defeat to Niko Kovac's Eintracht Frankfurt in 2015/16, they are now back in the Bundesliga for the first time since the 2013/14 season with what is their eighth promotion to Germany's top division - a new record.

Dominik Reinhardt (l.) and Andreas Wolf hold aloft the DFB Cup after Nuremberg's win against Stuttgart in 2007. © imago / Zink

How they did it

The division's second highest scorers to date, it has been Nuremberg's away form this term that has fired them toward promotion. Losing just three times while winning half of their games on the road has helped Michael Köllner's men make up for occasionally indifferent form at the Max-Morlock-Stadion this term.

A superb start to 2017/18 also helped, with Der Club finishing a close second to promotion rivals Holstein Kiel in the Hinrunde, bagging ten wins in their opening 17 games. Captain Hanno Behrens and Swedish striker Mikael Ishak have provided most of the goals while as many as 12 different players have found the target in the team's promotion push. Ishak has also chipped in with seven assists to go with his 12 goals.

Watch: Nuremberg's promotion celebrations

Star player

Yet it is undoubtedly team captain Behrens who leads the way in this side. The former Darmstadt midfielder and Hamburg youth-team product has blown away his previous single season strike-rate high of five goals by netting 14 this season, seven of which have been headers. He even scored the goal on the penultimate weekend of the season to confirm the club's promotion. Top scoring for the team from midfield, the 28-year-old has had the season of his life to earn what will be his very first season in the Bundesliga.

Behrens has been on fire in what has statistically been his best season to date as a professional.
Behrens has been on fire in what has statistically been his best season to date as a professional. © gettyimages / Simon Hofmann

Described by his coach as "the best captain a club could have," Behrens has run a division high 217 miles this season while his team's fantastic achievement most certainly hasn't been undervalued by the side's stand-out player. "If someone had told us at the start of the season we'd end up in the position we are, we'd have started dancing back then."

Summing himself up as someone who plays with "great dedication and passion: the things that define me," Behrens will certainly be a fine addition to the 2018/19 Bundesliga.

The coach

A true original, Michael Köllner is a sportswriter's dream in terms of his backstory and no less of an inspiration to his young Nuremberg charges. Incredibly, the 48-year-old is taking charge of his first senior side a little over a year since answering Der Club's call. A qualified dental assistant who served for eight years as a medical assistant in the German armed forces, Köllner is also an author, having penned a manual on football tactics. After 15 years working with the DFB, the tactician decided to mix things up in his life by looking at professional football coaching.

Coach Michael Köllner has a background no other coach can boast of.
Coach Michael Köllner has a background no other coach can boast of. © gettyimages / Grimm / Bongarts

And things have gone astoundingly well since. The sort of coach who gives books as gifts to his players at Christmas, for "education has not harmed anyone yet," Köllner also brought his charges to visit a monastery while he often insists they switch off their smart phones and communicate with each other more. Extra time spent in the dining room is encouraged so that conversation between teammates can flourish. Yet Köllner does have his hard side, mixing the sort of arm around the shoulder with a disciplined approach to great effect. Team spirit is thus the key.

The stadium

Inaugurated in 1928, this 48,548 all-seater venue has gone through several name changes over the years, but it currently bears the moniker of one of the club's greatest ever players: Max Morlock, the attacker who racked up 700 goals for Der Club in the 1940s, '50s and '60s. Used as one of the grounds that hosted football matches at the 1972 Olympic Games, the Max-Morlock-Stadion was also one of the chosen stadiums for the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals, famously hosting the so-called 'Battle of Nuremberg' between Portugal and the Netherlands, where a FIFA-record four red and 16 yellow cards were dished out.

The Max-Morlock-Stadion can host almost 50,000 fans.
The Max-Morlock-Stadion can host almost 50,000 fans. © imago / Zink

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