Christoph Daum heralds the start of new era
Christoph down becomes the new coach at Bayer 04. Daum's move from Besiktas to Leverkusen is announced during the European Championships in England. There are also new faces in the first team squad: Jens Nowotny, Erik Meijer, Jan Heintze, Robert and Niko Kovac and Rene Rydlewicz are the new signings for the season.
The Lions are back
A new club logo is also presented. Within modern design the new logo links to the tradition of the Bayer lion that relates both to Bayer AG as well as the region of the Bergische Land and Leverkusen.
Big Mac at the BayArena
And another first: The McDonald's restaurant and the Bayer 04 fan shop open on Bismarckstraße on 23 October 1996.
Feldhoff hat-trick against Bayern
After almost being relegated season before, there was a dream start to the Bundesliga with the first game producing a 4-2 victory over the reigning champions Borussia Dortmund. A win that sent out a signal. Bayer marched on and establish themselves at the top of the table. And football fests return to the BayArena as on 9 March 1997. Bayer 04 secured a five-to win against Bayern Munich. Markus Feldhoff had the game of his life as he scored a hat-trick.
Kirsten and Sergio: The dream strike force
Bayer dominated at home winning 15 out of 17 games (one defeat, one draw), scored goals for fun as in the 5-3 win against Freiburg, 5-0 against Hamburg and 4-2 against neighbours FC Köln. Paulo Sergio and Ulf Kirsten kept on scoring. At the end of the season Kirsten is the top goalscorer in the Bundesliga for the second time with 22 goals following on from his success in 1993. And Sergio found the back of the net 17 times. The 39 goalscorer between them represented the best attack in the league.
League runners-up for first time
In the end Bayern Munich and Bayer were neck and neck in the race for the title. However, a 4-0 defeat away to the neighbours from the other side of the Rhine saw Bayer squander the chance of the title with one match to play. Nevertheless, matchday 34 witnessed Leverkusen finishing as runners-up in the Bundesliga and thereby qualified for the UEFA Champions League.