The European Adventures of Borussia Mönchengladbach


Borussia Mönchengladbach was the first club to represent Germany in the Cup Winners Cup. Opponents of the team coached by Bernd Oles in November 1960 were Rangers (the 1872 version). In the first leg, played in the Rheinstadion in Düsseldorf, Gladbach lost 3-0. Attacker Dieter Needig took defeat particularly hard. Shortly before the end, his opponent Davis was knocked to the ground, broke his jaw and lost four teeth. Two weeks later Borussia travelled to Scotland. 16 members of the 22-person delegation had never actually sat in a plane before their departure. It’s not clear whether their knees had stopped knocking before they took to the field at Ibrox as they went down by 8: 0.


Ten years later Borussia was in the European Cup for the first time. In the first round Vogts, Netzer and company beat the Cypriots of EPA Larnaca  6: 0 and 10: 0. In the second round the team then wrote history. In the return game against Everton they took part in the first penalty shootout in the competition after the tie finished level on aggregate. It started well when Gladbach ‘keeper Wolfgang Kleff parried the first penalty. Their joy was short-lived, however, as Herbert Laumen and Lüdwig Müller both missed and Gladbach went out. Müller was by far the best penalty taker at the club but in the remaining six years with Gladbach he never took another penalty.


Plenty has been written about about the scandal against Inter Milan from October 1971. Even today the words ‘can’ and ‘Boninsegna’ are enough to make any Gladbach fan foam at the mouth. The replay game was to be on neutral ground in Berlin and the Borussia fans were certainly surfing a wave of symapthy on the River Spree. Numerous taxi drivers drove the Borussia supporters into the Olympiastadion free of charge and for the first time since the Second World War, even the night flight ban on Berlin was lifted so that the numerous fans could go home after the final whistle in specially chartered planes. The Head Barman of the Hotel Schweizerhof invented a cocktail for the occasion named “Borussia”. The contents: A sip of Asbach Uralt, a swallow of Advokaat, an egg yolk with sugar, some warm milk and cream garnished with pistachios. It was all to no avail as  Gladbach drew 0: 0 and went out.


In April 1974 Borussia again had a bad experience with a Milan club, but this time with  AC Milan. After the 2-0 first-leg defeat in Milan, all hope for Borussia rested on the return, which the club again moved to the Rheinstadion in Düsseldorf because of its extra capacity. Gladbach took the lead early thanks to an own goal by the Italian Sabadini Milan then started playacting worthy of Hollywood. Time and time again, the Italians were able to meet their reputation, falling down at every opportunity and fouling every other minute. When referee Franco-Martinez refused to give Borussia a stonewall penalty, the players lost it. After the final whistle Klaus-Dieter Sieloff said, “I have never seen such cheating in my whole life!” Meanwhile, Gladbach fans chased the Spanish referee across the pitch. He later had to slip into a police uniform in order to be able to leave the stadium safely. Gladbach had to pay a penalty of 5,000 Marks as well as losing out on a place in the final.


The return home from the UEFA Cup tie back from Zaragoza was almost a tragedy for Hennes Weisweiler’s team. After the Foals had easily gone through to the next round everybody on the team bus was already looking forward to a celebration dinner. Suddenly it swerved violently and two windows were broken. It turned out that apparently the bus had been shot at. The perpetrators were never identified. Luckily none of the players were injured, only a  journalist got some glass shards in the eye. Ouch.


Speaking of ouch, in the first round match of the European Cup in 1976 against Austria Vienna attacker Herbert Heidenreich wondered after the final whistle why his back was hurting so much. When unpleasant pustules formed he went to the doctor who diagnosed second degree burns. Suspicion immediately fell on the lime with which the lines at the Bökelberg Stadium were drawn during those days. Promptly, the city banned the use of the substance. Heidenreich’s back was fixed, and in the end Gladbach even reached the final, where Liverpool proved to be too strong.


During the excursion to Craiova in Romania in the UEFA Cup of season 1980, the players of Borussia had certainly had more difficult evenings. But on the night before the game, Romanian fans circled around the team hotel all night to test their drums, trumpets and horns for full functionality. It was not until nine o’clock in the morning that the local police intervened. They could have saved themselves the bother, since by this time the team were already sitting at the breakfast table.


From the Stasi report on the UEFA Cup first round of  Gladbach at 1. FC Magdeburg then part of the DDR: “The player Lothar Matthäus has now become well known in the national team of the Federal Republic of Germany in the German Democratic Republic. Before the UEFA Cup tie in Magdeburg he intends to present to football fans of the DDR numerous sport souvenirs,.” As suspected: it wasn’t Kohl or David Hasselhoff, but Lothar Matthäus on his own that started the road to the fall of the Berlin Wall.


Borussia’s 5:1 win against Real Madrid in November 1985 is not one of the biggest football games ever. However, “The Black Night of Madrid” followed shortly after the height of the Foals’ joy. After the 0:4 defeat in the return leg in the Bernabeu and the surprising exit from the competition, striker Jupp Heynckes was so disappointed that he imposed on himself  a vow of silence and refused to talk to any of his team mates for a month. That night in Madrid echoed round the Bundesliga for a long time. Opponents regularly taunted Borussia with ‘Real Madrid’ chants for years.



The team wore a unique jersey in their UEFA Cup match against the AS Monaco in October 1996. Since alcohol advertising was forbidden in the Principality of Monaco, the word “alcohol-free” was quickly added under the chest lettering of their sponsor, a well-known Altbier brewery. To this day fans of this jersey offer top money for them at auctions because of their rarity.



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