"After much thought and countless scenarios regarding our future, we have finally come to the decision not to continue our journey with Bayer 04. We felt a responsibility to the club to inform them of this decision in good time," declared the twins in a joint statement. "This decision has been anything but easy not least because of the honest, fair and understanding relationship with the Leverkusen club management in the past and right up to today. Bayer 04 now have time to plan and that was important to us."
Bayer 04 sporting managing director Rudi Völler praised the "exceptional performances of both Bender brothers over the years. There are few players in the Bundesliga like Lars and Sven. They represent football class, extreme professionalism and absolute reliability plus determination and commitment," said Völler. "We need their qualities in the remaining six months to achieve our big targets. Exactly that ambition is evident in both of them who always give 100 per cent right to the end. And regarding Lars, I've hardly seen another player at Leverkusen who has identified so much with Bayer 04. We owe Lars a huge amount of gratitude."
The two 31-year-olds specifically expressed their close connection to Bayer 04. "At the end of the day, it was not a decision against the club but about health and family. We recognise it will be difficult to play football at this high level beyond the summer. Anybody who knows us, also knows we give 100 per cent every day. For us that has always been the basic requirement in training and in matches. Unfortunately, it's becoming increasingly more difficult for us to perform consistently at that level because of all the pain and physical problems, which are affecting us more and more."
Before ending their careers as Bayer 04 players, Lars and Sven Bender will continue to have the targets of the club as their priority: "Of course, we’ll do all we can to write a successful final chapter here at Leverkusen by ending a very successful season to date with the achievement of our ambitious targets."
And Lars Bender added after eleven years at Leverkusen: "I'll try to enjoy the remaining time and every moment as I have learned to value and love the club and all the wonderful people here. And I was and am proud of being part of the history of Bayer 04."
Paderborn caused the upset of the second round of the DFB-Pokal as the Bundesliga 2 side beat top-flight Freiburg 3-1. The club from East Westphalia are now out to deliver another cup battle at the BayArena on Wednesday (kick-off: 18:00 CET). Here’s the lowdown on our next opponent.Show more
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Bayer 04 involvement with the ‘Kältegang Leverkusen’ project continues this winter. The current Bundesliga league leaders and their fans again presented financial and in-kind donations to the homeless charity at home game against Borussia Dortmund (1-1).Show more
The Werkself remain unbeaten after the 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund on Bundesliga Matchday 13. The one-sided game demanded a lot of strength of nerve and competitive spirit from Xabi Alonso's team. In the end, Victor Boniface rewarded the relentless attacking efforts of the league leaders against passive but efficient visitors. The Werkself review.Show more