Honorary captains

In order to document and reward this club loyalty and identification, Bayer 04 elevated a deserving player to the rank of honorary captain for the first time in 2004 in the person of Ulf Kirsten. Six others have followed him in the years since: Carsten Ramelow in 2008, Bernd Schneider in 2010, Simon Rolfes in 2015, Stefan Kießling and Rüdiger Vollborn in 2019, and Lars Bender in 2021. They all fulfil the three "recruitment criteria" into the illustrious ranks of Werkself idols: at least ten years at the club, at least 300 competitive matches - and an outstanding personality.

Honorary captains

The illustrious circle

Lars Bender

Lars Bender

Born: 27 April 1989 in Rosenheim

Clubs: TSV Brannenburg, SpVgg Unterhaching, TSV 1860 Munich, Bayer 04

Bundesliga appearances: 256

Bundesliga goals: 21

Honours: 19 caps for Germany (4 goals), U19 European champion (2009), Silver at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Bundesliga runner-up (2011), DFB Pokal runner-up (2020), UEFA Champions League qualification (six times)

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Stefan Kießling

Stefan Kießling

Born: 25 January 1984 in Lichtenfels

Clubs: FC Eintracht Bamberg, 1. FC Nürnberg, Bayer 04

Bundesliga appearances: 403 (344 for Bayer 04, 59 for Nürnberg)

Bundesliga goals: 144 (131 for Bayer 04, 13 for Nürnberg)

Honours: 6 caps for Germany, Bundesliga top scorer (2013), Bundesliga runner-up (2011), Bundesliga 2 champion with Nürnberg (2004), third place at 2010 World Cup

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Rüdiger Vollborn

Rüdiger Vollborn

Born: 12 February 1963 in Berlin

Clubs: 1. Traber FC Berlin, Blau-Weiß 90 Berlin, Bayer 04

Bundesliga appearances: 401 (all for Bayer 04)

Bundesliga goals: 0

Honours: UEFA Cup winner (1988), DFB Pokal winner (1993), Bundesliga runner-up (1997 and 1999), U20 World Cup winner (1981)

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Simon Rolfes

Simon Rolfes

Born: 21 January 1982 in Ibbenbüren

clubs: Werder Bremen, SSV Reutlingen, Alemannia Aachen, Bayer 04

Bundesliga appearances: 288 (all for Bayer 04)

Bundesliga goals: 41 (all for Bayer 04)

Honours: 26 caps for Germany, Bundesliga champion with Werder Bremen (2004), DFB Pokal winner with Werder Bremen (2004), DFB Pokal runner-up (2009), Euro 2008 runner-up

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Bernd Schneider

Bernd Schneider

Born: 17 November 1973 in Jena

Clubs: BSG Aufbau Jena, Carl Zeiss Jena, Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer 04

Bundesliga appearances: 296 (263 for Bayer 04, 33 for Eintracht Frankfurt)

Bundesliga goals: 39 (35 for Bayer 04, 4 for Eintracht Frankfurt)

Honours: 81 caps for Germany, World Cup runner-up (2002), World Cup third place (2006), Champions League runner-up (2002), DFB Pokal runner-up (2002 and 2009), Bundesliga runner-up (2000 and 2002)

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Carsten Ramelow

Carsten Ramelow

Born:  20 March 1974 in Berlin

Clubs: Tasmania Neukölln, Tennis Borussia Berlin, Hertha Zehlendorf, SC Siemensstadt, Hertha Berlin, Bayer 04

Bundesliga appearances: 333 (all for Bayer 04)

Bundesliga goals: 22 (all for Bayer 04)

Honours: 46 caps for Germany, World Cup runner-up (2002), Champions League runner-up (2002), DFB Pokal runner-up (1993 and 2002), Bundesliga runner-up (1997, 1999, 2000 and 2002)

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Ulf Kirsten

Ulf Kirsten

Born: 4 December 1965 in Riesa

Clubs: BSG Chemie Riesa, BSG Stahl Riesa, Dynamo Dresden, Bayer 04

Bundesliga appearances: 350 (all for Bayer 04)

Bundesliga goals: 182 (all for Bayer 04)

Honours: 51 caps for Germany, 49 caps for East Germany, DFB Pokal winner (1993), Bundesliga top scorer (1993, 1997 and 1998), Champions League runner-up (2002), DFB Pokal runner-up (2002), Bundesliga runner-up (1997, 1999, 2000 and 2002), East German champion with Dynamo Dresden (1989 and 1990), East German Cup winner with Dynamo Dresden (1984, 1985 and 1990), East German Footballer of the Year 1990

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