The 'blonde angel' is coming
When Bayer 04 start the pre-season, general manager Reiner Calmund is able to present a big surprise to the fans. He succeeds in persuading the 'blonde angel' Bernd Schuster to make the move from Spain to Bayer Leverkusen. Bernd Schuster with his playmaker abilities is brought in to give the Bayer 04 team style of play and thereby making football at the Ulrich Haberland Stadium more attractive. The world class player is joined by Paulo Sergio from Corinthians in Brazil, Jens Melzig from Dresden, Ralf Becker from Ditzingen and Jens Haustein from Chemnitz. Goalkeeper Walter Junghans joins Bayer 04 in the winter break for half a season.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen top at Christmas
In 1993, Bayer 04 were top of the table after 20 games at Christmas. After a mixed start to the season the Werkself are seventh in the table on matchday 12 after a 5-1 win against Schalke 04 and are five points adrift from leaders Eintracht Frankfurt. In this game, the Schalke goalkeeper Jens Lehmann is substituted at half-time and he sets off home to Gelsenkirchen on the tram. The attack on top spot only begins on matchday 16 and is achieved on matchday 19 after a 1-1 draw away to Bayern Munich and a further 1-1 draw at home to Wattenscheid. Bayer 04 Leverkusen are top at Christmas 1993.
Following the winter break and the training camp in Orlando in the USA, the Bayer team picks up one out of a possible ten points. The team appears to be in hibernation and within a few weeks slips down from 1st to 7th place. However, nine out of ten points takes them up to third place and qualification for the UEFA Cup is back in sight with four games to go before the end of the season. There is a lot of competition. Between FC Kaiserslautern in second place and FC Köln in tenth place gap is only three points. On the last matchday Bayer 04 have to face already relegated VfB Leipzig. VfB are looking to go out of the Bundesliga in style and because the visitors problems. After a 2-1 lead at half-time the team from Saxony equaliser on 79 minutes and Bayer 04 are not in Europe at that point. The team tried everything in the final ten minutes and it was Ulf Kirsten who made it 3-2 on 89 minutes. Bayer 04 Leverkusen end the 1993/1994 campaign in third place, the highest position ever in the Bundesliga.
Madness against Benfica
In the European Cup Winners Cup, held for the last time in the 1998/1999 season, is competed for by all the domestic cup winners in Europe. After relaxed outings against the Czech club Boby Brunn, beaten 2-0 zero and 3-0, Bayer 04 are then faced with the Greek club Panathinaikos. The visitors produce a fantastic performance in front of a crowd of 60,000. Above all in the second half, Andreas Thom, Pavel Hapal, Ulf Kirsten and Paulo Sergio cause havoc in the Athens defence to secure a much deserved 4-1 win. At the end of the game Bayer 04 leave the pitch to a standing ovation. The return leg is little more nervous. When the Greeks got 2-0 up on 66 minutes both the team and the Leverkusen support become nervous. A goal from Ulf Kirsten settles everyone down and Bayer 04 Leverkusen deservedly go through to the quarter-finals. Here they face the Portuguese record champions Benfica. Everything seems to be going to plan and Bayer 04 lead 2-0 on 58 minutes. Within 20 minutes Benfica have turned the game round and they lead 3-2. Bayer 04 fight back. Goals from Ulf Kirsten and Pavel Hapal restore the lead at 4-3 but Benfica level again on 85 minutes and are through to the semi-finals. The dramatic course of the game and the mixed emotions both with the players on the pitch as well as the spectators turn this quarter-final in Leverkusen into a 'mad game'.