Bayer 04 prepare for the new season at training camp in St. Gallen that will turn out to be the most successful in the history of the club to date. Three new signings strengthen the squad: goalkeeper Jörg Butt, midfielder Yildiray Bastürk and Zoltan Sebescen.
Bayer begin the new season with two victories (2-1 against Wolfsburg, 3-0 at Rostock).
Ticket for the UEFA Champions League secured
21 August: After a 0-0 draw in Belgrade, Bayer 04 beat Red Star 3-0 in the return leg. The tour of Europe can start. In the first group phase the opponents are Fenerbahce, Olympique Lyon and Barcelona.
Repercussions of terror
Following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington on 11 September the game against Fenerbahce, due to be played on 12 September, postponed.
Dream start in the Champions League
Bayer 04 make a perfect start to the UEFA Champions League campaign with three wins on the bounce. A 1-0 win at Lyon is followed by a 2-1 victory against Barcelona and the same 2-1 result against Fenerbahce. After a 2-1 defeat in Barcelona, Bayer 04 qualify for the next round with a 2-1 win in Turkey. The final 4-2 defeat against Lyon is irrelevant.
10 October 2001: Michael Ballack scores the winner on 59 minutes in 2-1 victory
First Fan Club Bayer 04 1976 celebrates anniversary
A reason to celebrate indeed: The First Fan Club Bayer 04 1976 was founded 25 years ago. On 5 October 2001 the oldest Bayer 04 fan club celebrated with 350 guests in the Alkenrather Bürgerhaus.
Bayer quintet for Germany – World Cup qualifier against Ukraine
On 14 November Germany qualified for the 2002 World Cup with a 4-1 win in the second play-off game against Ukraine. Five Leverkusen players featured in this success at the Westfalen Stadium: Jens Nowotny, Carsten Ramelow, Michael Ballack, Bernd Schneider and Oliver Neuville were in the starting line-up under head coach Rudi Völler.
Ballack was a hero in Dortmund with his two goals. He also scored in the 1-1 draw in the first leg. Oliver Neuville also scored in Dortmund. Bernd Schneider was the big discovery in the Germany team. Carsten Ramelow and Jens Nowotny kept it tight at the back. That pleased the former chairman of the board at Bayer AG, Dr Manfred Schneider: "It fills me with pride and satisfaction that the so often criticised players of Bayer 04 were able to help German football in this awkward situation despite being under pressure.
Win in Cologne puts Bayer top
Bayer 04 quickly established a position in the leading group in the Bundesliga. And with a 2-1 win at our 'dear' neighbours FC Köln on 17 November took Butt, Ramelow, Schneider and Co. top of the league for the first time on matchday 13.
Left to right: Lucio, Diego Placente, Ze Roberto, Jens Nowotny, Jurica Vranjes, Thomas Brdaric, Bernd Schneider, Ulf Kirsten, Carsten Ramelow, Michael Ballack
On the road in Europa
Bayer's European tour continues – and how! The next group stage takes Bayer 04 to Italy (Juventus), Spain (Deportivo La Coruna) and – for the first time ever – England (Arsenal). A really tough group.
Fog causes chaos in Turin
The opening game of the second group stage away to Juventus at the Stadio delle Alpi had to be postponed twice due to fog. At the third attempt match took place on a Thursday afternoon in front of almost empty stands. The postponement did not help Bayer at all: Juventus win 4-1. A clear victory.
The Leverkusen response was equally clear in the second match: Bayer produce an outstanding experience to beat La Coruna 3-0. The goals were scored by the outstanding Zé Roberto, Oliver Neuville, and Michael Ballack.
Bayer top at winter break
Even though Bayer 04 lost the last game in the first half of the season 2-1 at Hertha Berlin they did finish top of the table by the winter break in 2001.
On the way to Berlin
Bayer 04 also continued their march forwards in the DFB Cup. After three away ties at Jahn Regensburg (3-0), VfL Bochum (3-2 a.e.t. with three goals from Dimitar Berbatov) and Hannover 96 (2-1) all ended in wins, TSV 1860 Munich stood no chance at the BayArena. On his 21st birthday, Berbatov produced a gala display scored two wonderful goals in the 3-0 victory over the Lions.
Up and down in the league
Defeats at home to Schalke and away to Bayern resulted in Bayer 04 losing a position of the top of the table. On 24 February the Bayer 04 fans at Leverkusen celebrated a 4-0 win against the leaders Borussia Dortmund and taking top spot again.
Events come thick and fast
The semi-final of the DFB Cup was a Rhine derby. FC Köln but on a brave show at the BayArena and they managed to equalise in the final minute with a goal from song. The match went into extra time where Bayer went on to win 3-1 with goals from Boris Zivkovic and Bernd Schneider. The fans sing: "Berlin, Berlin, we're off to Berlin."
The visit two London in the Champions League ended with Arsenal inflicting a 4-1 defeat on Bayer 04. The first match on the British Isles did not go to plan but the travelling Leverkusen fans created a great atmosphere at Highbury Park.
Within eight days Bayer were creating a stir in the Champions League. First came a 3-1 win against Juventus at the BayArena on 12 March and that was followed on 20 March by 83-1 victory in La Coruna. Leverkusen go through to the quarter-finals as group winners. "Bayer suddenly succeeded in entering the exclusive circle of European football mobility," wrote the Rheinische Post.
20 March 2002: Bernd Schneider makes it 2-0 at La Coruna on 54 minutes.
Congratulations from Michael Schumacher
Bayer lose the quarter-final away game 1-0 to Liverpool at Anfield. The return game a week later on 9 April will go down in club history is one of the greatest nights of football. Michael Ballack calls it "a perfect game of football."
Pure drama at the BayArena. Bayer take the lead, Liverpool equalised, Bayer go 3-1 up and think that's enough; Litmanen pulls a goal back for the visitors, Bayer would be out. Then a great performance from Lucio. With six minutes to go the Brazilian received the ball from Yildiray Bastürk and drills it through the legs of Liverpool's keeper Jerzy Dudek into the back of the net to make it 4-2. "It was a delight and an absolute top performance," said the Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher in passing on his congratulations for reaching the semi-finals.
9 April 2002: Within a few seconds a hurricane breaks out at the BayArena. On 84 minutes, Lucio makes it 4-2 against Liverpool. Bayer Leverkusen are in the Champions League semi-final.
After matchday 31 Bayer 04 lead the Bundesliga with a five-point advantage over Borussia Dortmund. After two defeats at home to Werder Bremen (1-2) and away to FC Nürnberg (0-1), Dortmund overtake Bayer 04 on matchday 33 and they hold onto this lead on the last matchday through a lucky to-one win against FC Köln. Bayer 04 's 2-1 win against Hertha Berlin is only enough for a fourth runners-up spot.Tears in Leverkusen
But there are still two finals to go. In the Champions League Bayer 04 go through against the clear favourites Manchester United. After a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford, the 1-1 draw at home is enough to take Bayer through to the final. Oliver Neuville the man of the moment. In Manchester he scores to make it 2-2 and at the BayArena he levels to cancel out the goal scored by Roy Keane. The whole of Leverkusen is looking forward to the dream final against real Madrid in Glasgow. The only downside: The captain Jens Nowotny tore a cruciate in the 1-1 draw against Manchester United and is ruled out for several months.
But first, it’s off to Berlin: On 11 May 2002 Bayer 04 and Schalke 04 face each other in the DFB Cup final. Dimitar Berbatov opens the scoring at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin but little goes right after that for Bayer. Schalke win 4-2 in the end.
The next big final comes just four days later. At Hampden Park in Glasgow on 15 May Bayer 04 go into the game as underdogs against the Spanish record champions Real Madrid with all their superstars. But Bayer 04 do more than just compete with the Galacticos. Lucio equalises after Raul puts Madrid ahead. Zinedine Zidane restores the lead for Real. In spite of the great fight and many opportunities that the substitute goalkeeper Iker Casillas keeps out with incredible reflex saves Bayer 04 have to accept defeat.
But the players could leave the pitch with their heads held high. Leverkusen have won lots and lots of admiration at home and abroad this season through performances in the Bundesliga and, above all, in the UEFA Champions League. The fans are proud of the treble runners-up tag.
A great World Cup from a Bayer perspective
The season is not yet over for many Bayer pros. Bayer 04 are the most successful club at the World Cup in Japan and South Korea: One World Cup winner, five World Cup runners-up and one World Cup third-place – that's the phenomenal heading from a Leverkusen point of view. Lucio was an established key player with the Seleção and he triumphed with Brazil in the dream final with a 2-0 win against brave resistance from the Germany team.
In the team under Rudi Völler, the Leverkusen players Carsten Ramelow, Bernd Schneider, Michael Ballack and Oliver Neuville count as the big performers. Jörg Butt does not play as the third goalkeeper. Yildiray Bastürk shines as the playmaker for Turkey who achieve an historic success with a third-place finish. Other Bayer players at the World Cup: Frank Hejduk (USA), Diego Placente (Argentina), Boris Zivkovic, Jurica Vranjes (Croatia).