1.10.2021Bayer 04

Birthday boys of the month: Harry Gniech and Niko Kovac

To two former Leverkusen players, who celebrate their birthdays in October. Many happy returns.

Harry Gniech

Harry Gniech was born in Leverkusen-Schlebusch on 14 October 1951. He became a member of Bayer 04 at the age of nine and he started playing football three years later. He progressed through all the youth teams and moved up to the amateur team. In 1973/74 his former U19 coach Friedhelm Renno, now coaching the Bayer 04 first team, brings him in for his first game with the senior team. He is substituted at half-time in the game and he remains in the amateur team up to 1978.



He comes to the attention of coach Willibert Kremer and he plays for the first team in the final five games of the 1977/78 campaign. Those five matches were all won and the team went into the next season full of confidence. Harry becomes a regular starter with the promotion side. He plays a total of 40 Bundesliga games for Bayer 04 and is the first homegrown Leverkusen player in the Bundesliga. He celebrates his 70th birthday this month. Many happy returns, Harry!

HERE are the best goals and moves by Harry Gniech on video.

Niko Kovac

Niko Kovac was born in Berlin on 15 October 1971. He joined Bayer 04 in 1996 from relegation-threatened second division club Hertha Berlin. After general manager Reiner Calmund asked him about his brother Robert’s ability, he also signs for Bayer 04 from second division FC Nürnberg. In Leverkusen this was the start of the rebuilding under coach Christoph Daum and the battle for the title and qualification for the Champions League. Niko twice finishes Bundesliga runner-up and third once in his three years at Bayer 04. He also starts in the club’s first Champions League match against the Belgian side Lierse SK. The defensive midfielder makes 77 Bundesliga appearances and scores 8 goals in three years.




After hanging up his boots, he started a very successful career as a coach and he is now at the helm of the French top-flight club AS Monaco after being the manager of Croatia, Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayern Munich. His players include former Werkself star Kevin Volland. Niko is 50 this month. Happy birthday in the principality.

HERE are the best goals and moves by Niko Kovac on video.

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