In the first season in the top Bundesliga division there are lots of firsts: The first opponents in the Bundesliga are Bayern Munich. The first stadium our Bayer eleven enter is the Olympic Stadium in Munich. We concede our first goal on three minutes and our first Bundesliga goalscorer is Dietmar Demuth from the penalty spot. The first Bundesliga home game at the Ulrich Haberland Stadium is played on 18 August 1979 and also results in the first Bundesliga victory. The first goalscorer at home is Kurt Eigl. He makes it 1-0 on 19 minutes and Bayer 04 go on to win 2-1.
Bayer 04's first Bundesliga goal at home is scored by Kurt Eigl. He opened the scoring in a 2-1 win against Hertha Berlin.
On the road, the Bayer eleven clock up the first away win at Schalke. Two goals from Peter Szech secures a first three points away from home in the Bundesliga on 1 December 1979. The absolute highlight of the first Bundesliga campaign is the 2-1 victory on the penultimate matchday against the reigning German champions Hamburg SV. Goals from Dieter Herzog and Thomas Hörster see the newly-promoted team derail HSV in their title defence and makes Bayern Munich the champions of Germany.
Jubilant scenes after the 2-1 home win against HSV on 24 May 1980: (from left to right) Klaus Bruckmann, Peter Hermann and Hubert Makel.
In the following year Bayer 04 battle relegation for the whole season. Ever closer to the drop zone but again and again fighting their way back. In the end, strong home form brings the necessary points although safety is secured with a 4-2 win at Duisburg. The highlight of this season is a home win. On 7 March 1981 in front of 16,000 spectators at a not quite sold-out yet well filled Ulrich Haberland Stadium Bayern Munich are beaten 3-0. The team really took off in the first half. The Norwegian centre forward Arne-Larsen Ökland plays a key part in the victory with a hat-trick.
Bayer 04 beat Bayern Munich 3-0 at the Ulrich Haberland Stadium on 7 March 1981. Arne-Larsen Ökland scores the first hat-trick for Bayer 04 in the Bundesliga.
In the second half it looked like Ökland had scored another goal. However, the ball landed in the side netting. The referee awarded a goal and waved away the enraged protests by the Bayern players. Just before the kick-off, Ökland spoke to the referee and admitted the ball did not land in the back of the net. The first phantom goal in the history of Bayer 04.
Bayer continued to be involved in the battle against relegation. At the end of the 1981/82 season there were play-off games against Kickers Offenbach. During the season the promotion coach Willibert Kremer is dismissed and replaced by assistant coach Gerd Kentschke. At the end of the season Bayer 04 bring in Dettmar Cramer in an advisory function and later as coach for the new season. Bayer 04 win the two games against kickers Offenbach by 1-0 and 2-1 and are able to rest themselves from a precarious situation. The relegation battle starts again next term from the first matchday. Start with four out of a possible 24 points in 12 games and 18th place in the table puts coach and players in real trouble. The team is bottom at Christmas albeit just two points adrift from safety. The club management remain calm and the coach and his players pick up 19 points in the second half of the season to finish in 11th place.
From 1 July 1984 there is finally a big club again: SV Bayer 04 Leverkusen and TuS Bayer 04 Leverkusen come together to form TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen after separate general meetings and differences of opinion from TuS members.
Eric Ribbeck takes over as coach in 1985/1986 and secures a UEFA Cup place at the first attempt. On the final matchday, Bayer 04 come back from a two goal deficit with goals from Herbert Waas and Christian Schreier to draw 2-2 to pick up the missing point.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen qualify for Europe for the first time in the 1985/86 season. Falko Götz, coach Erich Ribbeck and Florian Hinterberger celebrate a 2-2 draw at FC Schalke 04.
The first game in European competition for Bayer 04 Leverkusen is played on 17 September 1986. The team win 4-1 in the far north away to Swedish club Kalmar. Unfortunately, around later needs to an exit against Dukla Prague.
The East Stand is opened a few weeks later.
The East Stand in 1986. The first construction phase of the new Ulrich Haberland Stadium is complete.
Bayer 04 play Werder Bremen on 4 October 1986 and win 4-1. The works club had played impressively up to that point and on matchday three is top of the Bundesliga for the first time in the club's history and after the win against Werder Bremen they are second behind Bayern Munich. Four weeks later is the big match in Munich. Bayer outwit Bayern to win 3-0 at their Olympic Stadium – the hero on the night is a young man from Berlin: Christian Hausmann. The whole team played as if from the same mould and went top of the table after this victory although they were only able to hold on to that position for a couple of weeks. At the end of the season Bayer 04 are reliant on Hamburg SV winning the cup to qualify again for the UEFA Cup and to make history.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen beat Bayern Munich 3-0 at the Olympic Stadium on 1 November 1986. Christian Hausmann makes it 2-0 on 79 minutes.
The 1987/88 campaign brings the biggest success for Bayer 04 in the club's history. After a mixed season in the Bundesliga the night games in the UEFA Cup are highlights the Leverkusen fans. Bayer 04 beat Austria Vienna, FC Toulouse, Feyenoord, Barcelona and Werder Bremen to reach the UEFA Cup final. Spanish top-flight side Espanol are the opponents. Bayer lose the first leg 3-0 and travel home without much hope. For the return match on 18 May 1988 the Bayer fans turn the home ground into a cauldron. The players keep going forward but the two sides are level at 0-0 at the break. The introduction of Herbert Waas and his team-mates plus the fans bring exciting runs down the right flank force the Spanish defence to make mistakes. Tita opened the scoring and from that moment there is no stopping the works team.
Falko Götz and Bum Kun Cha cancel out the deficit from the first leg. Not much happens in extra time and that leads to a penalty shootout. Ralf Falkenmeyer takes the first one for Bayer and misses. The Spanish score from the first two attempts making it look bad for our team. Then the first Spaniard hits the bar, Rüdiger Vollborn saves the fourth penalty and Wolfgang Rolff, Herbert Waas and Klaus Täuber convert their penalties leaving Espanol's Losada to take the fifth penalty. Rüdiger Vollborn begins to wave his arms around in his own inimitable style and Losada hits the ball high over the bar. Bayer 04 Leverkusen lift their first title.
Goalkeeper Rüdiger Vollborn with the UEFA Cup.
Team photo of 1987/88 squad with the UEFA Cup.
The UEFA Cup win is followed by the next cup victory within a relatively short time in the 90s.