22.10.2022Bayer 04

Playing Wolfsburg at the BayArena: The 1968 champions

These 15 players and their coach achieved a massive success for Bayer 04 in the summer of 1968: The team under Theo Kirchberg were crowned champions of the Regional League West after 34 games - a milestone in the history of the Werkself. Now, 54 years later, a number of the players are meeting up again at the BayArena for the Bundesliga home game against VfL Wolfsburg (Saturday, 22 October, 15.30 CEST).


Friedhelm Renno (1940-):

The captain of the side. The goalkeeper joined Leverkusen from Arminia Bielefeld in 1963 but he was the back up for Hans Benzler in that season and only played in the games at Oberhausen and at home to Westfalia Herne. He kept a clean sheet in both fixtures. Renno coached the Werkself in 1973/74 and is still involved today as a member of the elders committee at TSV Bayer 04.

Günter Haarmann (1938-):

The Leverkusen stalwart progressed through all the youth teams at Bayer 04, making over 500 appearances for Leverkusen from 1958 to 1970. The left-back liked to get forward and he netted six times in the 1967/68 campaign.

Willi Haag (1944-):

The sports student, one of six new signings in the team, was signed from Eintracht Trier. Haag, like teammate Haarmann, took a similar approach to his role as right-back in the style of a modern wing-back. He played in 32 games and scored two goals. Remained at Bayer 04 to 1970.

Helmut Röhrig (1944-):

The Leverkusen-born player was the only other homegrown member of the team alongside Günter Haarmann. A classic number six and an enforcer in midfield. He played in all of the 34 league matches. Remained under the Bayer Cross as a player to 1972.

Helmut Brücken (1944-):

The Ratingen-born player was the Bayer 04 captain in 30 games. Brücken often had a special role im midfield looking after the opposition’s playmaker. The Werkself number 7 had the stamina of racehorse, was seen as a whirlwind and he scored six times in 33 games. He joined Fortuna Düsseldorf for the following season but returned to Leverkusen in 1969 and he stayed at the club to 1973.

Karl-Heinz Brücken (1947-):

The young striker arrived from Düsseldorf in the pre-season and immediately became a regular starter. As a regularly rotated centre-forward he was the top scorer in that season with 13 goals. Sadly, he only stayed at Bayer 04 for three seasons.

Fredi Hennecken (1941-):

Nicknamed “Iron foot” due to his powerful shots. The speedy and tricky forward was signed from TuS Elsenroth. in 1966. He was the second most prolific player in the Kirchberg team with 12 goals. He was at Bayer 04 for six years.

Helmut Richert (1941-):

“Bello” was signed form the champions of Germany 1860 Munich in 1966 and he was the fastest player in the Werkself squad. The sports student ran his opponents ragged as an inside forward. He joined Fortuna Düsseldorf in the following season.

Karl-Heinz Zickel (1942-):

The Solingen-born player started with the Bayer 04 second team but then moved up to the senior squad. In 1967/68 he only played two games as a defender. He moved on to SG Union Solingen after seven years at Leverkusen and helped them to promotion to the second division in 1975.

Wilfried Seifert (1948-):

One of the youngest players in the squad. A pre-season signing from SC Euskirchen as a 19-year-old and he made a number of appearances as a full back at Leverkusen. He moved on to Rot-Weiß Oberhausen after six years at Bayer 04.

Hans Benzler (1936-2017):

The 31-year-old goalkeeper was signed from VfR Mannheim in the pre-season and became a safe pair of hands with the Werkself. He only conceded 33 goals in 33 games.

Leo Wilden (1936-2022):

The 15-time international, at the World Cup in 1962 and twice a champion of Germany with FC Köln, played as a sweeper for Bayer 04 from 1966. He was the key organiser in defence in all 34 games in the 1967/68 campaign. He worked for the club after his playing career up to 1973.

Friedhelm Strzelczyk (1947-2009):

The former Bundesliga player with Karlsruher SC was a tricky, technically brilliant and pacy striker who enjoyed beating his opponents down the left wing. He scored from a corner in his first game of the 1967/68 season against Viktoria Köln. He stayed at Bayer 04 up to 1973.

Peter Rübenach (1947-2020):

The perfect sub. Signed from Bonner SC as a talented youngster, he was the first ever substitute at Bayer 04 and he scored the first goal as a sub for Bayer 04 against TSV Marl-Hüls on 10 September 1967. He scored four goals in ten games.

Klaus Görtz (1940-1996)

The hard-running and technically gifted midfield dynamo joined pre-season from TSV Marl-Hüls and he was man of the match in the crucial 3-3 draw at Schwarz-Weiß Essen on the final matchday. He provided the assist for the leveller at 2-2 scored by Helmut Brücken and then netted to make it 3-2 with a wonder goal. He scored six times in his 30 appearances.



the coach

Theo Kirchberg (1920-2014):

The player and coach legend joined from VfL Benrath in 1949 and he was the right winger in 1951 when Bayer 04 won promotion to the Oberliga West in 1951. The “Fox” became the Werkself coach in 1965, he led the team to the Regional League West title and was had coach up to 1972.



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