Emrehan Gedikli moved under the Bayer Cross when he was just seven years old. The centre-forward went through the ranks at Kurtekotten. His form has progressed so well in recent years that Bayer 04 awarded him his first professional contract at the end of April. The Germany U18 international made his first appearances for the Werkself before signing his contract: Gedikli made three appearances in the Europa League group stage in November and December of last year. That was followed by his debut in the Bundesliga in the final Werkself match of the season at Dortmund (1-3).
The 18-year-old unselfishly thanked the Bender twins after his appearance in the top-flight with the first league match for Gedikli being the last league match in the twins' impressive playing careers: "It's an honour for me to make my Bundesliga debut in such an important game for our club. Thank you Lars and thank you Sven for everything you've given to Bayer 04."
In addition to Gedikli, another player made his Bundesliga debut after being brought through the ranks at Kurtekotten: Niklas Lomb came on in the second half of the 2-2 draw with FSV Mainz 05 in place of the injured number one Lukas Hradecky. The Cologne-born keeper joined the Werkself at the age of 14 in 2008. Lomb made his first-team debut as an 18-year-old in the Europa League but then had to wait 8 years for his first appearance in the Bundesliga. That happened on 13 February: At the age of 27, 6 months and 16 days Lombo secured his place in Bundesliga history. His predecessors as homegrown Bundesliga debutants at Bayer 04: Florian Wirtz, Kai Havertz, Marlon Frey and Benjamin Henrichs.
Reiner Calmund's mission is complete. Around 18 months ago, the long-standing Bayer 04 general manager started the project of 'Calli under 100'. Since then the 72-year-old has lost an in impressive 83 kilos – and after his second operation a few days ago he weighed just 92.1 kilos. Hats off for that achievement, 'Calli'.
As an expression of recognition for the achievements to date as well as another tempting reason to train, the Bayer 04 managing directors Fernando Carro and Rudi Völler presented their predecessor, who worked in various functions at the Werkself from 1976 to 2004, with shirts and training kit. Calmund still feels closely connected to his former employer – and he appeared in good mood in his new Werkself kit after his operation at the University Clinic in Bonn.
Bayer 04 and the 17 other Bundesliga clubs enjoyed a previously unseen level of interest from the fans in front of TV screens. The pay-TV channel Sky established records in their Bundesliga coverage in the 2020/21 season.
An average of 4.7 million viewers watched the matches each weekend. The best figures were on Saturday with around two million viewers per afternoon, which is equivalent to an increase of four per cent. Another 1.3 million viewers watched the top match of the week on Saturday nights with Bayer 04 involved in four of those games last term.
In conclusion, let's take a look into the past and honour a man of the first season in the Bundesliga for Bayer 04. Peter Szech would have been 68 years old on Wednesday. The centre-forward gained promotion to the top-flight with the Werkself in his first season under the Bayer Cross in 1978/79 and he played the full 90 minutes in the first Bundesliga match in the club's history on 11 August 1979. In the following four years he went on to make 91 league appearances for Bayer 04 and scored 22 goals along the way.
Unforgotten to this day is his brace in the 2-1 win in the second leg of the play-off in the 1981/82 season against Kickers Offenbach, which prevented Bayer 04 being relegated from the Bundesliga. Szech ended his successful playing career in 1984. He passed away in 2014 at the age of 60.
Bayer 04 visit Azerbaijan for the second time this season for the first leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie against Qarabag on Thursday, 7 March (kick-off 6.45pm CET) at the Tofiq Ismayilov Stadium. Here’s how you can get tickets.Show more
Matchday 33 of the 2023/24 VBL Club Championship by Wow saw a digital derby against Köln for Leverkusen’s console team. Bayer 04 earned a point to remain seventh in the northwest division and in with a chance of reaching the play-offs.Show more
Bayer 04 host Azerbaijani club Qarabag in the second leg of the UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie. The match takes place on Thursday, 14 March (kick-off 9pm CET) at the BayArena. Here's the ticketing information.Show more
This evening, Friday 23 February (kick-off 20:30 CET), Bayer 04 open Bundesliga Matchday 23 against 1. FSV Mainz 05 at the sold-out BayArena. The works club is using the fixture to hold its second Bayer Sports Family Matchday of this season. The matchday news has everything you need to know.Show more
The draw for the round of 16 of the 2023/24 UEFA Europa League was made on Friday, pairing Bayer 04 with Azerbaijani club Qarabag FK, who the Werkself already met in the group stage.Show more