Coach Klaus Toppmöller, his assistant Peter Hermann, general manager Reiner Calmund, plus the players Carsten Ramelow, Jens Nowotny, Thomas Brdaric and Oliver Neuville – all accepted the invitation to the film premiere from Bayer 04 and they all played a crucial role in the exceptional season for the Werkself. It was clear to see from the reaction of the fans that this is still a special part of the Black and Red history.
The invited guests were joined by over 450 selected fans in the hall decorated in Black and Red. Fernando Carro, chairman of the board at Bayer 04, found words of praise for the protagonists of yesteryear at the start of the event. The 57-year-old Spaniard watched some of the Leverkusen games back then on television including the matches against Barcelona. "Bayer 04 had the best team in Europe back then – without a doubt!," declared Carro.
The 04 former players plus Toppmöller, Hermann and Calmund then came onto the stage. They all shared their personal memories of the Champions League season together 20 years ago. Brdaric talked about a "wonderful season. The fans carried us through that intensive time. I'm proud of being a small part of that team." His former teammate Nowotny ascribed reaching the final to the coach Toppmöller. And, in turn, he commented on the 4-2 win against Liverpool in the second leg of the quarter-finals: "It was the greatest game for me that I ever experienced as a coach."
Finally, immediately before the documentary started, it was Reiner Calmund's turn. The legendary Leverkusen general manager was greeted with a standing ovation as well as chants of ‘Calli, Calli’ from the stalls and the circle. In his usual emotional and humorous manner, the now 73-year-old again reviewed the matches. His final words were aimed at his former colleagues and the fans present: "We were a great team. And that was true both on and off the pitch."
Now it was time. The lights were dimmed, the introduction of the documentary showed what the spectators could look forward to in the following 60 minutes: pure emotion. During the film, again and again there was loud celebration of important tackles, amazing dribbles and wonderful goals. The successful documentary was rounded off with words of praise from opponents back then such as Iker Casillas, Raúl, Patrik Andersson, Dietmar Hamann and legendary commentator Fritz von Thurn und Taxis after which Jens Nowotny happily declared: "This film belongs to the fans, they played a decisive part in that exceptional season."
The documentary ‘Wir schlugen Juve – Leverkusens unglaublicher Weg ins Champions-League-Finale 2001/02’ is available to watch on the Bayer 04 YouTube channel from 14.00 CEST today Friday 24 June.
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