'Wonderful time' – Lars Bender named honorary captain

Bayer 04 club legend Lars Bender was appointed honorary captain on Saturday 17 September ahead of the Bundesliga home game against Werder Bremen (1-1). The former Werkself captain spoke to Werkself TV about the appointment and looked back at his time under the Bayer Cross...

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The former Werkself skipper was named honorary captain a few minutes before kick-off with CEO Fernando Carro and sporting manager director Simon Rolfes presenting him with the official pennant. At the same time, Bayer 04 fans paid their tribute to Bender with an impressive choreography of red and white flags, and banners across the whole of the North Stand. 

"It's really great to be back and experience the atmosphere here a few minutes before kick-off. I was normally in the dressing room at this time," said the 33-year-old in describing his first impressions of his return to Leverkusen.

Bender: "i've missed the people most"

In response to the question of what he missed most, the 33-year-old provided a quick response: "The people," and he continued: "You can play football anywhere. But the fans, the club staff, the players and the time we spent together – that's what I've missed most. I really enjoy thinking of my time at Leverkusen," said the former Germany international in describing his mood.



The Bavarian joined Bayer 04 from 1860 Munich in 2009. The midfielder made 342 appearances for the Black and Reds in his twelve years under the Bayer Cross and he also made debuts on the European stage in the UEFA Champions and Europa League competitions. The 33-year-old ended his playing career with his brother Sven Bender on 22 May of last year in the away game at Borussia Dortmund (1-3).

The duo received a celebratory and emotional farewell at the BayArena the week before in the final home game of the 2020/21 season against Union Berlin (1-1). The nomination was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and now comes the official inclusion in the group of honorary captains in front of 30,210 spectators at a sold-out BayArena.

Bender seventh honorary captain

Following on from the club legends Ulf Kirsten (2004), Carsten Ramelow (2008), Bernd Schneider (2010), Simon Rolfes (2015), Stefan Kießling and Rüdiger Vollborn (2019), Lars Bender is the seventh player who meets the "appointment criteria" to enter this honoured group. That specifically includes: At least ten years at the club and a minimum of 300 appearances – coupled with an outstanding personality. Bender has now received this honour. "Of course, I'm very proud of my 342 games. I played here for ages and I had a really wonderful time here."

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