1.10.2022Bayer 04

Miscellany: The miracle of Leverkusen – Toulouse first leg – 35 years on

The match that gave me the biggest goose bumps in my career. Only topped in 2009 by the Red Wall at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin for the cup final against Werder Bremen.

In October 1987, we showed our creased and tired face in the Bundesliga. After beating Kaiserslautern 2-0 at home, we suffered a miserable 3-1 defeat in Bochum. With a poor Vollborn and a poor team. The next home game against Bayer 05 Uerdingen ends in a "fair" goalless draw. A quote from Kicker: "With shrieking whistles and calls of "stop", the 7,500 spectators shared their discontent after a match that hardly lived up to a Bundesliga level."


The match in France takes place on 21 October 1987. Toulouse is the fourth biggest city in France – lying on the Garonne River. People from the south of France are considered to be enthusiastic and committed but I was not aware of that before 21 October 1987. Kick-off 20.30 CEST. We face an incredible noise when we came out of the dressing room going onto the pitch. We came on at the corner flag. Both teams calmly went towards the centre circle carried forward by a sea of flags in violet and white. Almost 40,000 spectators created an incredible spectacle. With singing, shouting, fanfares and pyrotechnics. It was simply fantastic. The crowd sang songs, cheered their team on and applauded for 90 minutes. In the truest sense of the word, we ground out a battling 1-1 draw in that cauldron. A solid team performance was required to get that result..

"It was really great fun to play here." – Wolfgang Rolff

"Playing in a cauldron like this is fun. You get infected by the atmosphere. The spark of enthusiasm is transmitted from the fantastic fans to the players." – Florian Hinterberger

"Wednesday night 20.30 CEST in Toulouse. At the Municipal Stadium lying directly on the Garonne. Big match atmosphere, almost 40,000 football fans come to watch the two teams in the UEFA Cup tie between FC Toulouse and Bayer 04 Leverkusen. The stadium is completely bathed in violet and white. A sea of flags plus fireworks and unlimited celebration – Italian conditions near to the Spanish border. But the fans are disciplined. In spite of the high ticket prices (up to 100 Deutschmarks) and a small crisis for the team in the French league, they get behind FC Toulouse all the way. Good actions by the Bayer 04 team are also spontaneously greeted with applause. We are amazed. Just imagine: Bayer 04 were on the verge of losing points just before the end of the game at home at the Haberland Stadium. A lot of fans would have already left the ground with swear words on their lips. Not the case in Toulouse. No flags are burned, polite applause, shaking hands with German fans and an unenvied recognition of the Bayer 04 performance. We were deeply impressed. All you can say is: "There are decent fans." A reader's letter from W. Reich in the match programme.





A coach and a couple of cars, with about 30 Bayer 04 fans, set off to the south of France. After a 10-hour journey covering over 600 miles they end up sat together with Toulouse supporters, sadly no longer imaginable these days. But it was worth it as the brief report from Mr Reich reveals.

But back to the match. The French team are first out of the blocks. Aggressive and at times excessively strong, they attack us all over the pitch. Minute by minute it becomes calmer and more relaxed. Cha wins an aerial duel in midfield on 34 minutes, Rolff picks up the ball and lays it into the path of Schreier who fires a shot into the top corner from 14 yards out. We have another great chance from Cha in the second half but his shot goes over the bar. The French team try everything but our defence is solid. On 70 minutes, they are awarded a penalty for a foul by Falko Götz and they convert it to level. Towards the end of the game, Falkenmayer has a massive chance for us but he only hits the outside of the post. Everybody is agreed after the game that 1-1 is better than 0-0. And we can really do it. But everybody takes one thing with them: We'd like to have such a fantastic atmosphere at our stadium sometime. Christian Schreier put it like this: "Now we have to give away tickets for the second leg to get something going at the Ulrich Haberland Stadium…!" I'll look at the return leg on 4 November next month.

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