FC Köln

Hennes IX heads die Geißböcke up towards Europe

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Some of the finest players in German football – including Hans Schäfer, Wolfgang Overath and Pierre Littbarski, World Cup winners all – made their names for 1.FC Köln.

Though the club last won the league back in 1978, 1.FC Köln remain a major feature of the German game.

Their importance is linked to the national sports academy, producer of many of Germany’s top coaches and once headed by arguably its greatest, Hennes Weisweiler.

Born locally in 1919, Weisweiler played in 1.FC Köln’s first ever team in 1948, the new club having been founded from Kölner BC 1901 and SpVgg Köln-Sülz.

Remarkably, he soon became player-coach, leading the club after promotion to the then regional top flight in their first season. Weisweiler coached 1.FC and local rivals Viktoria until 1964, when he transformed Borussia Mönchengladbach into a European power.

Weisweiler’s ties to his former club remained strong – 1.FC mascot, the billy goat, has always been called Hennes. His namesake would make a dramatic return as coach in 1976.

In 1963, 1.FC were invited to join the inaugural Bundesliga. With 1954 World Cup winner on the wing, one-club stalwart Hans Schäfer, Köln had just reached three national finals, winning one in 1962. Triumphant manager Zlatko ‘Tchik’ Cajkovski then moved on nurture a young Franz Beckenbauer at Bayern Munich.

Under former German international Georg ‘Schorsch’ Knöpfle, 1.FC Köln won that initial Bundesliga of 1963-64. Joining 1962 title winners Schäfer, Hans Sturm and Karl-Heinz Thielen was a genial young midfielder, Wolfgang Overath.

In the subsequent European Cup campaign, Köln held Liverpool for three matches until going out on the toss of a coin. Despite the emergence of later World Cup stars Wolfgang Weber and Hannes Löhr, Köln remained also-rans, although regular European competitors. Weisweiler’s return signalled a change.

With players such as goalkeeper Harald Schumacher, midfielder Heinz Flohe and forward Dieter Müller – and with Weber and Lohr still in the squad – Weisweiler’s Köln pipped his former club Mönchengladbach to the 1978 title on goal difference.

Even with a precocious Bernd Schuster, Köln narrowly failed to beat Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest in the subsequent European Cup semi-final. Later stars included Pierre Littbarski, Klaus Fischer and Klaus Allofs, but even under Rinus Michels, Köln could only pick up a German Cup, over city rivals Fortuna in 1983.

The last great Köln side, including Thomas Häßler, came under Christoph Daum in the late 1980s, twice Bundesliga runners-up and finalists in the UEFA Cup.

Despite the goals of Toni Polster, the arrival of a young Lukas Podolski and the later return of the disgraced Daum, Köln became either mired in mid-table or locked in the lower flight.

Winning the Zweite in 2013-14 thanks to the goals of Patrick Helmes, Köln re-established a more permanent foothold in the Bundesliga under Austrian Peter Stöger. Prolific French striker Anthony Modeste made an immediate impact in 2015 with a goal after 45 seconds, then a hat-trick, on his debut. 

Another 25 goals in 34 Bundesliga games in 2016-17 pushed the Billy Goats into fifth place, and European qualification for the first time in 25 years.

Modeste’s departure for China left Stöger’s Köln winless in the 2017-18 league campaign until well into the autumn. Despite the thrill of European football – 20,000 Köln fans massed into every corner of Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium for the first fixture in September 2017 – second-flight football seems inevitable come 2018-19.

Stadium Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

The RheinEnergieStadion was built for the 2006 World Cup on the site of the old Müngersdorfer Stadion, centrepiece of Germany’s main complex for sport and sport education.

Surprisingly overlooked for the 1974 World Cup (Cologne lacked the funds, allowing Dortmund to build the Westfalenstadion, now Signal Iduna Park), the Müngersdorfer was rebuilt soon afterwards. With a new upper tier and scoreboards, the 61,000-capacity Müngersdorfer was opened with a derby match between 1. FC Köln and Fortuna in November 1975. Thirteen years later, it hosted two matches for Euro 88.

For the 2006 World Cup, €117.5 million was spent on creating a whole new stadium here, compact and intimate, with the running track removed, and steep banks of red-and-white seating holding 46,000 for internationals. For league games, capacity is increased to 50,000, 1. FC Köln fans standing in the lower tier of the home end, the Südtribüne. The fan shop, club museum and 12.Mann Restaurant are in the Nordtribüne. Away fans access through gates N6, N15 and N16 where at the corner of the North and East Stands.

getting there

Going to the stadium – tips and timings

Take red U-Bahn line 1 west from central Neumarkt to the RheinEnergieStadion (direction Weiden West), ten stops/18mins away.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

Now that Köln are back in the Bundesliga, nearly all games will be sold out – although the club’s online agency, Eventim, distributes any returns or spares. If ordering from abroad, tickets can be picked up at the stadium’s Ticketpoint. For availability, call +49 221 260 11 221.

For games against less attractive opposition, tickets are first sold to members 7 weeks in advance, then offered for open sale a month beforehand – at the stadium, at the Geißbockheim clubhouse (Franz-Kremer-Allee 1-3), and at the FC-FanShops in the KölnArcaden (Kalker Hauptstraße 55) and C&A at Schildergasse 60-68, both in town.

Against lesser opposition, you’ll pay around €40 for a seat in the corner between the sideline and the goal, €30 behind the north goal.

See the club website for details.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

At the stadium, the FanShop (Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-2pm, home games from 10am) sits behind the Nordtribüne.

Curiosities include a Köln monopoly set, a branded children’s bike and a double CD of stadium hit songs.

Other outlets include C&A at Schildergasse 60-68 (Mon-Thur 9am-9pm, Fri-Sat 9am-10pm), the Köln Arcaden at Kalker Hauptstraße 55 (Mon-Thur 10am-8pm, Fri-Sat 10am-10pm) and the clubhouse of Geißbockheim at Franz-Kremer-Allee 1-3 (Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-2pm, match days except Sun from 10am).

Museum & tours

Explore the club inside and out

Sadly the lovely little FC-Museum by the FanShop in the Nordtribüne only opens on a handful of days a year and as part of group tours that can only be organised by calling +49 221 716 16 104 or emailing

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

Your first port of call should be the excellent Geißbockheim (Mon-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm), the clubhouse and training centre set deep in the woods at Franz-Kremer-Allee 1-3. Classic black-and-white archive shots of Wolfgang Overath and Hennes Weisweiler surround a traditional bar-restaurant, where a full kitchen operates most of the day, and Kölsch is obligatory. 

It also has a shop and ticket outlet. You’ll find it just off Militärringstraße, a 10min walk from the Klettenberg Klettenbergpark stop on the No.18 tramline. The stadium is about 3km away up Militärringstraße – a taxi shouldn’t be expensive.

Sadly, the former bar-dotted stretch of main Aachener Straße near the stadium is now dominated by a giant McDrive. One stop nearer town, at Alter Militärring U-Bahn, with the closure of Treffer, Stadtwaldgarten is a handy choice, though it’s more steakhouse than sports bar. Nearby Arizona at Aachener Straße 704 is in similar vein, TV sport giving it the nod when it comes to pre-match.

At the ground, in the Nordtribüne, the 12.Mann Restaurant overlooking the pitch is VIP- and reservation-only on match days. Far more accessible, behind the Südtribüne, Playa in Cologne is a beach bar/beer garden in the warmer months, with skating in winter.