Eintracht Frankfurt’s triumph in the Europa League is a milestone for German football, but also for the club itself. For decades, the Adler were a crisis club, nothing more than mediocrity. The sudden rise should be a shining example for every struggling traditional club. The Soccer Column.
There are events where every football fan knows where they saw them. World Cup triumphs, of course, but even more the great victories and defeats of your own club. But while you want to forget the latter as quickly as possible, the successes remain forever.
Not only, but also because of this, May 18, 2022, with the Europa League triumph against Glasgow Rangers, was a historic date – for German football and above all for Frankfurt Eintracht, which is now one of the big names in European football .
The Hessians were certainly one of the most important clubs, at least in Germany, because of their size with more than 100,000 members and because of their successes in the past.
But this glorious past – with the exception of the DFB Cup victory in 2018 – was a long time ago: Eintracht celebrated all other titles before reunification, including the Uefa Cup victory in 1980.
The Adler were also a revelation in the 1990s, celebrating the dreamlike “Football 2000” with players like Anthony Yeboah, Uwe Bein, Maurizio Gaudino and Jajay Okocha. “Super unity, great atmosphere” was a sentence that Okocha has had on the Main and is still legendary today.
However, the Frankfurters missed the longed-for title several times, most dramatically in the completely unnecessarily playful championship in Rostock in 1992 under coach Dragoslav Stepanovic, who then tried to console the devastated supporters with another legendary saying: “Lebbe goes weida.”
However, the bon mot almost turned into a prophecy about the coming quarter century. Because Eintracht was actually not to be killed, although self-promoters and gamblers almost drove the Bundesliga founding member to ruin several times, three times between 1996 and 2012 the proud club was only second-rate.
However, the last relegation in 2011 was just a one-year industrial accident in the 13-year era of Heribert Bruchhagen, who made the club from the banking metropolis, which was regularly mocked by the boulevard before he took office as “Zwietracht Zankfurt”, top-class again in sporting and financial terms.
“At that time, Eintracht had constantly changing executive and supervisory boards and many problems. That’s why everyone was ready to fundamentally change the club in 2003 and that made it easier for me,” the 73-year-old recalled his beginnings before the final in an interview with SPOX and GOAL.
At some point, however, people stopped listening to Bruchhagen’s mantra that anything but healthy mediocrity was not possible in Frankfurt. In this respect, his departure in 2016 was also a new start towards higher goals, which the sporting leadership duo Niko Kovac and Fredi Bobic temporarily crowned two years later with the unexpected cup coup against FC Bayern.
When you see that since then numerous people from the sporting management such as Kovac and last summer Adi Hütter and Bobic left the club as well as outstanding footballers, including the storm buffalo herd Luka Jovic, Ante Rebic and Sebastien Haller or before this season record scorer Andre Silva, the triumph in Europe this season is all the more surprising. But he also speaks for the serious and clever work of the current bosses around Axel Hellmann and Markus Krösche.
Overall, it wasn’t a good season, with eleventh place in the Bundesliga (same points as table 13 Bochum) and the embarrassing first-round knockout. in the cup at third division Waldhof Mannheim. The fact that this year will still be in the history books as the most successful for 42 years was due to the Europa League.
25 years after Schalke 04’s sensational Uefa Cup victory – by the way, Eintracht had just finished their first second division season with a disastrous seventh place – an outsider from the Bundesliga has now brought the 15-kilo trophy to Germany for the first time.
You will find striking parallels between the two teams: A foreign coach – today Oliver Glasner, then Huub Stevens – who went his own way with concept, stubbornness and empathy.
A team of many nationalities with completely different characters, which presented itself as a real unit when it mattered and thus also put overwhelming opponents (Inter Milan, FC Barcelona) in their place.
With an outstanding goalkeeper as a great support and heroes in the penalty shootout – Jens Lehmann at the time, Kevin Trapp this time. And in Peter Fischer, a highly emotional boss and fan favorite like Schalke’s maker Rudi Assauer at the time (although Fischer, unlike Assauer, smokes cigarettes and not cigars).
In addition, Frankfurt showed, as in 1997 with the Royal Blues, what power a traditional club possesses, with which it can carry the entire football nation along in an ideal situation such as a European Cup final.
And last but not least, both clubs share a huge enthusiastic following, which in the end was probably the decisive factor in winning the momentum.
With the historic success in the heat battle in Seville, Eintracht finally ended a long dry spell, which actually gives a frightening testimony to the time in between, when the Bundesliga clubs in the Europa League made a fool of themselves year after year. As a self-fulfilling prophecy, so to speak, of Franz Beckenbauer’s malicious devaluation of the “Losers’ Cup”.
The SBU showed this year and also in 2019 by reaching the semi-finals that the Europa League is a cup of winners – if you take it seriously. Perhaps also because the multicultural city of Frankfurt is an international melting pot that, as the club song says, is “in the heart of Europe”.
The reward for this is lavish: In addition to fame, success also brings returns, because automatic entry into the Champions League allows around 50 million euros to flow into the coffers, which are tight due to Corona.
But this exclamation mark on the big stage is not only good for Eintracht, but for German football as a whole, which will be represented by five teams in the premier class for the first time next season.
A milestone, especially when you consider that the Bundesliga, apart from FC Bayern, has done almost nothing internationally for 25 years since Dortmund’s Champions League victory in 1997.
It remains to be hoped that another quip from Eintracht fans, after which they will tell their grandchildren about this day, will not really come true. Because then the Bundesliga would have to wait another 25 or more years for such an experience.
But the euphoria in Frankfurt, which reached its peak with the party of around 200,000 people across the city on Thursday, has hopefully awakened the desire of other teams (and their fans) to imitate Eintracht and the Europa League after the Spanish dominance of the maybe even to make it a “German” competition in recent years. Then the performance of the Adler would be even greater than it already is.
Personal details: Martin Volkmar is Head of Portals
Hertha BSC – Hamburger SV
05/19/2022 | 8:30 p.m