Somewhere in Spain’s pulsating capital city, Borussia Dortmund are finalising their preparations for tomorrow’s UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg against Real Madrid. Elsewhere, Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes is on the way to Barcelona with his charges ahead of their last-four encounter on Wednesday.
While both German clubs are in an excellent position to reach the final at Wembley, Cologne are currently fighting for the chance to return to the country’s top flight. Exactly 35 years ago today, Cologne, Dortmund and Heynckes were also in the spotlight, albeit in rather different circumstances. FIFA.com takes a trip down memory lane.
'We didn’t think we had a chance'
It was an era when fans in the stadiums were also glued to their radios, keenly following the events in other matches around the country. The final day of the 1977/78 Bundesliga season arrived with local rivals Cologne and Borussia Monchengladbach level on points at the league summit. The latter - the legendary ‘Foals’ team - had won the three previous championships, but went into their game at home to Dortmund with a goal difference ten digits inferior to that of Cologne.
It would become one of the most memorable matchdays in Bundesliga history. “We didn’t think we had any chance of winning the title anymore,” Herbert Wimmer, known as 'Hacki' to fans, told Spiegel Online. The fixture was the last of Wimmer’s 366-game Bundesliga career, during which he earned five championship titles and also secured domestic and UEFA Cup triumphs.
The opening goal came in the first minute and by half time the notoriously attack-minded Gladbach side were leading 6-0. To this day the 12-0 final scoreline remains the largest winning margin in Bundesliga history.
Towards the end the referee had to pick the balls out of our net because we were too embarrassed to do so.
Just a few days shy of his 33rd birthday, and with the end of his playing career fast approaching, Heynckes hit five. His 195 Bundesliga goals for Gladbach still stand as a club record, while Heynckes’ career total of 220 puts him in third on the all-time Bundesliga scorers chart, behind only Gerd Muller (365) and Klaus Fischer (268).
But were the 12 goals enough to snatch the title out of Cologne’s grasp right on the finish line? As the drama unfolded on the most spectacular and goal-filled season finale in Germany’s footballing history, the answer would soon be revealed.
Cologne were 1-0 up at half time away to Hamburg-based club St. Pauli, but on hearing of Gladbach’s efforts during the break, they shifted gears and raced to the league title with a 5-0 win. A brace from Japanese international Yasuhiko Okudera earned him hero status among Cologne fans after another extraordinary 90 minutes of football.
It was a historic day for both clubs, as Cologne recorded their third - and to date last - league title, while Gladbach have yet to better their biggest ever win. Understandably, Dortmund’s memories of the day are far less positive. “I wouldn’t wish a result like that on anyone,” then captain Lothar Huber told the Westdeutschen Allgemeinen Zeitung. “Towards the end the referee had to pick the balls out of our net because we were too embarrassed to do so.”
Dortmund parted company with their coach following that humbling, and the wounds took a long time to heal. However, more prosperous times would later come for both the ousted coach and the club. Otto Rehhagel was the man in the dugout that day, while you need only ask Real Madrid what became of Dortmund.