18.05.2021Bayer 04

Fach: Some of them were 'scared shitless'

The one arrived from Hertha Berlin as a talented 21-year-old, the other was one of the most experienced players under the Bayer Cross at the age of nearly 33. How was the 1995/96 season for Carsten Ramelow and Holger Fach? 04 questions to two players who stood their ground for 90 minutes in the crucial clash with Kaiserslautern.

Holger, what you particularly remember about your only season at Bayer 04?
It was an incredibly varied campaign. We had a good first half of the season. But then a lot of things happened at the same time: There were the problems between Erich Ribbeck and Bernd Schuster. We had a lot of injuries that partly lasted for weeks: Christian Wörns and Markus Happe, who missed all of the second half of the season due to a broken foot. Ulf Kirsten was out for several games. Then there were several postponements so that we slipped down the table and others went above us at the start of the second half of the season without us having played. That meant we had a lot of double fixture weeks to make up the games. But everything went very well for me in that season.

How did you see the arguments about Bernd Schuster?
I've had a brilliant relationship with Bernd up to this day. But back then it was clear to me that he could no longer play as a sweeper. He had problems in defensive work, running after the ball, being uncompromising in challenges – none of that was his thing. Regardless of how you assess his performances: I think it was out of order that nobody spoke to him in order to isolate him. Of course, this tension didn't contribute to a good atmosphere in the team.

How tense were you before the relegation 'final' against Kaiserslautern?
In almost 20 years as a player I experienced several similar situations and never had any major problems with it. But I know that before this game some of them were scared shitless. At the end of the day, you have to try and look at it rationally. Sometimes at the end of the season just about damage limitation – fortunately we managed it in 1996. Then you put it behind you and carry on.

Markus Münch has enjoyed hero status in Leverkusen since his goal to make it 1-1. If you hadn't put your head in the way in the true sense of the word just before the end of the game then the match would probably have been lost and Bayer 04 relegated…
(He laughs) Whenever I meet Reiner Calmund, he talks to me about that incident. It's true for most fans the story stops with the goal scored by Markus. But then there was this shot from Thomas Hengen just before the final whistle that I was able to intercept with a flying header from about ten metres in front of our goal. It was lucky I was standing there. Otherwise it would almost definitely have been too difficult for Dirk Heinen to hold onto the ball.

Holger Fach joined Leverkusen from Borussia Mönchengladbach in 1995 playing 32 games for Bayer 04 (three goals) as a sweeper, central defender and holding midfielder before moving on to Fortuna Düsseldorf in the summer of 1996. He played a total of 415 Bundesliga games (67 goals) for Fortuna Düsseldorf, Borussia Mönchengladbach, KFC Uerdingen, Bayer 04 and 1860 Munich.

Ramelow: "It was a slow process"

Carsten, your first six months at Leverkusen could hardly have been more turbulent. How did you feel in that situation as a young player?
When I joined Leverkusen in January 1996 it was the second chance for me at the Bundesliga club. Before that, I rejected an offer from KFC Uerdingen. Then I wanted to take the next step in my career. I had huge respect for all the big names and could never have imagined being involved in a relegation battle with this team. And it all went really well for me: I was a regular first choice straightaway and it was incredible fun being able to train and play alongside people like Rudi Völler, Ulf Kirsten Ioan Lupescu and Peter Lehnhoff. In my first six months at Bayer there was almost everything in terms of experience and emotion. I learned a lot during that time. And perhaps those months toughen me up for the following twelve years at the club. We got into a similar situation in 2003. And nobody could really explained how that could happen to a team that finished runners-up three times the season before. I was glad that we turned it round in 1996.

Was there a certain point where it became clear to you that it was no longer about qualifying for Europe but instead staying up?
No, it was a slow process. Some point we had a bad run. We messed about, lost narrowly, and often only drew. And you get dragged down when you end up in a mess like that. You can't always explain it. We wanted to qualify for Europe with this group and weren't prepared for a relegation battle. And we underestimated the situation for a long time. Then mentality plays a crucial role. A lot of people were unable to produce their usual performances due to the mounting pressure.



The nerves were raw, you had three players sent off in the 1-1 draw at Schalke. You were one of the three to get a red card…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Ramelow: Yes, what a game. I don't think my red card was justified. I pulled Martin Max's shirt a bit but he got caught up in me and also I wasn't the last man. We were incredibly annoyed with the referee. And then you let in the equaliser just before the final whistle. If we’d have taken three points from that crazy game then that would have been a reward for a great battle and would have given us a boost.

So everything went to the big showdown against Kaiserslautern on the final matchday. How did you deal with the pressure ahead of this decider to stay up?
The tension in those days before the game was extreme. But I was able to cope with the situation really well as it stood. Get stuck in, give everything you've got and do your job – that was my motto at the time. So I was happy after the days of preparing at the training camp in Much that I could finally warm up and go onto the pitch at the stadium. It was a battle of nerves but we mastered it in the end.

Our honorary captain Carsten Ramelow made 333 Bundesliga appearances for the Werkself (22 goals) in 13 years and with Bayer 04 he was the runner-up in the German league four times, runners-up in the cup twice and was in the Champions League final against Real Madrid in 2002 and in the same year he played for Germany in the World Cup final against Brazil.


Related News

Bayer 04 - 23.07.2023

Happy Birthday, Matthias Brücken. The promotion striker turns 70

He was the first top striker in recent Bayer 04 history: Matthias Brücken made a significant contribution to promotion to the Bundesliga with his 24 goals in the 1978/79 season. Four years earlier, he netted 26 goals in the second division. The Frechen-born former player celebrates his 70th birthday. Bayer 04 wish the promotion hero many happy returns and took the opportunity for a short interview.

Show more
Bayer 04 - 27.11.2022

Erich Seckler: "I was never a typical football player"

It's not easy to get hold of him on the phone. On the one hand, Erich Seckler was never one for public appearances and, on the other hand, the 59-year-old is very busy at work. The 1988 UEFA Cup winner even had to keep disappearing during our interview to lend a hand here or solve a technical problem there. Children often come into his office asking for a ball. Erich Seckler, who played for Bayer 04 between 1980 and 1992, today works as a caretaker at a primary school in Düsseldorf. In an interview with, the former central defender talks about his love for the job he does, how he became a professional footballer back then, his memories of the 2-2 draw against Feyenoord 35 years ago today and why he tried stage diving after the second leg of the final against Espanyol.

Show more
Bayer 04 - 30.01.2022

Berbatov: ‘Easy goals bored me’

This Sunday is a double special day for Dimitar Berbatov: The former Bayer 04 top striker, who scored 69 goals and provided 32 assists in 154 Bundesliga matches for the Black and Reds, today celebrates his 41st birthday. In addition, it is the 20th anniversary of his Goal of the Month in the DFB Cup tie against TSV 1860 Munich (3-0). To mark the anniversary and his stats, we asked the Bulgarian record goalscorer, who came to Leverkusen in 2001 at the age of 19 and stayed for five and a half years, about his outstanding goal and good advice for young strikers.

Show more
Bayer 04 - 07.12.2021

Hat-trick hero Fischer: ‘There are days when everything just comes off’

Andreas Fischer, known by the nickname ‘Fischi’, played for the Black and Reds from 1989 to 1994. He made 181 appearances for Bayer 04 in that time and scored 19 goals along the way. The now 57-year-old scored three of them exactly 30 years ago today – and that earned him a place in the Black and Red history books.

Show more
Bayer 04 - 01.10.2021

Derdiyok: ‘I was on cloud nine’

Ten years ago, Eren Derdiyok scored a wonder goal with an overhead kick in the 3-1 win in the Bundesliga match against VfL Wolfsburg and it was voted the September Goal of the Month in 2011. In an interview with, the 33-year-old with Turkish roots not only recalls that special goal but also talks about his time in Turkey, his unusual move to Central Asia and his Swiss fellow countrymen Gerardo Seoane.

Show more