Bayer Leverkusen: The best 50 players ever – the Bundesliga

They are the best! Best of all!

Fans are discussing, experts claim. Who are the best players in the 18 Bundesliga clubs? The greatest of all time?

BILD has now made a decision. It was not only about statistics and success, but also about personal values ​​such as popularity among the fans and loyalty to the club.

The result: a top 50 list for each club plus the historic top eleven.


50th place: Karim Bellarabi

The winger scored the fastest goal after just nine seconds and later the 50,000. goals in the history of the Bundesliga. Became national team player in Bayer.

49th place: Markus Münch

Many argue that a monument should be erected in Munich. Reason: His goal of making it 1-1 against Lautern saved the club from relegation in 1996.

48th place: Bernd Leno

Sensational rise from Stuttgart II. Immediately became a regular goalkeeper and also joined the national team. Saved five penalties in the 2013/14 season.

47th place: Falko Götz

The striker joined Bayer with Dirk Schlegel after fleeing East Germany in 1983. Because today’s B04 scout did not get a contract after winning the Uefa Cup in 1988 (Götz scored in the second match against Espanyol), he went to neighboring Cologne after 115 matches.

46th place: Jonathan Tah

Since 2015 in the team. The defender developed into a leader and national player. Chief of Defense since Sven Bender’s departure.

Chief of Defense Jonathan TahFoto: Andreas Pohl

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Chief of Defense Jonathan TahPhoto: Andreas Pohl

45th place: Charles Aranguiz

The Chilean started 2015 brutally with a torn Achilles tendon. But “El Príncipe” came back and has long been part of the inventory. His contract has one year left.

44th place: Thomas Hörster

One of the heroes of the rise in 1979, Erich Ribbeck, made the midfielder a libero from 1985. 1986 premiere on the senior national team, won the Uefa Cup in 1988.

43rd place: Lukas Hradecky

The Finnish national team goalkeeper is on his way to becoming a legend in Leverkusen. Hradecky is also called “spider” because of its range. Captain since 2021/22.

42nd place: Gonzalo Castro

Home grown, became a professional at the age of 17. Could have been world champion as a right back, but did not really want to play that position.

41st place: René Adler

The greatest goalkeeping talent of all time during Bayer Cross. Bitter that he was injured at the height of his career at the 2010 World Cup and lost his permanent place on the national team.

40th place: Heung-min Son

The South Korean impressed fans with his pace run and his incredible shooting technique. His hoop in Skt. The cold of St. Petersburg was legendary.

39th place: Arne-Larsen Økland

The Norwegian was the first star striker in Bayer’s early days in the Bundesliga. Unforgettable is his hat trick against FC Bayern including a phantom goal, which he just returned when asked by the referee.

38th place: Christian Schreier

The center-forward shot Bayer into the Uefa Cup for the first time in 1985/86. “Mr Europacup” contributed to the Uefa Cup victory in 1988 with a total of three goals this season.

37th place: Tita

Bayer’s first Brazilian was only a year old, but became a legend with a 1-0 victory in the Uefa Cup quarter-final at FC Barcelona. Also scored the important 1-0 in the last second match against Espanyol Barcelona.

36th place: Lars Bender

Retained his bones for twelve years. His header for 4: 3 against BVB is his “trophy”. Together with his twin brother Sven, ex-captain Lars ended his career after many injuries at the age of 32 in 2021.

Lars BenderFoto: Getty Images

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Lars BenderPhoto: Getty Images

35th place: Herbert Waas

First player from Leverkusen on the German A national team. The striker was 19 years, eight months and 30 days old on June 7, 1983, when he made his debut. 1988 winner of the Uefa Cup.

34th place: Moussa Diaby

The Frenchman is definitely one of the fastest Bayer players of all time. He finally made his breakthrough last season with 13 goals and 12 assists – a new club record for assists!

33rd place: Franco Foda

A confident libero who could also play in defensive midfield. As captain of the 1993 Cup Winners’ Cup, he has secured his place in the club’s history.

32nd place: Hans-Peter Lehnhoff

His precise flanks gave Lehnhoff the nickname “Flankengott”. Twice second place under Christoph Daum.

31st place: Arturo Vidal

Under coach icon Jupp Heynckes, the formerly often uncontrolled Chilean was “caught” and became a top-class defensive midfielder.

30th place: Dani Carvajal

Just a year on loan from Real Madrid in black and red, the Spaniard was one of the best right-backs Bayer has ever had. For him, Leverkusen was the starting signal for his world career at Real.

29th place: Yildiray Bastürk

Fantastic technician, very important player in the 2002 season. And: He scored the relegation goal in Nuremberg in 2003.

28th place: Bum-kun Cha

The top striker from South Korea repeated the feat he had achieved in Frankfurt in 1980 by winning the Uefa Cup in 1988. In 1986, Tscha-Bum traveled to the World Cup in Mexico as a Leverkusen player.

27th place: Christian Wörns

Member of the 93 cup winners, resolute and strong central defender. 263 competitive games for Werkself.

26th place: Wolfgang Rolff

Came from HSV as vice world champion in 1986. Led Leverkusen to their greatest success as captain: 1988 Uefa Cup. Peculiar record: 99 competitive matches and nine goals.

25th place: Stefan Beinlich

Specialist in midfield engine, free kick and set pieces. “Paule” scored Leverkusen’s first goal in the Champions League 1997 – a penalty kick to 1-0 against Lierse SK.

24th place: Patrik Schick

Today’s world class attacker. Top foreign goal scorer with 24 goals in one season. Four goals in one match (7: 1 against Fürth) was also a record.

Leverkusen's current top cutter: Patrik SchickFoto: Uwe Anspach/dpa

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Leverkusen’s current top cutter: Patrik SchickPhoto: Uwe Anspach / dpa

23rd place: Stefan Kiessling

The club’s second best goal scorer behind Ulf Kirsten. With 25 goals, “Kies” was the top scorer in 2013. Honorary game manager and today license coordinator.

22nd place: Simon Rolfes

Shaped Bayer for many years as a six, captain, penalty shooter, was also named honorary captain. Currently Sports Director – will take up the role of Sports Director from 1 July.

21st place: Carsten Ramelow

In the defensive midfield, the honorary captain became a star with an exceptional record: 333 Bundesliga matches and 22 goals. Vice World Champion 2002, Champions League Finalist 2002, Cup Finalist 2002, Vice Champion 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002.

20th place: Juan

The Brazilian formed a strong duo in central defense with Lucio. The technically strong and elegant Juan ideally complemented the robust and strong countryman.

19th place: Oliver Neuville

Started in Leverkusen as a left winger, later as a center forward again. The final second place played a big role in knocking ManUnited out of the Champions League in 2002 with two goals in the semi-finals.

18th place: Paulo Sergio

In 1993, the Brazilian left winger with the magic foot switched to Bayer 04 in the Bundesliga at the age of 24. After four years in the Rhineland and 121 matches (47 goals), he moved on to AS Roma in Serie A in 1997.

17th place: Placente

The Argentine was one of the best left-backs ever in Bayer-Kreuz. In the treble season 2001/02, Placente was one of the all-time favorites with 56 appearances.

16th place: Bernd Schuster

The “blonde angel” scored a goal forever in August 1994 with a 1-0 victory in a 4-0 victory against Frankfurt: He won the election for goal of the month, goal of the year and even goal of the decade. In 1994, three Schuster goals took the top three spots in the election for goal of the year.

15th place: Andreas Thom

The technically ingenious striker was the first player from the GDR Oberligaen to come into the Bundesliga and score a goal for Bayer in his first match against Homburg. A total of 37 goals for Leverkusen, Ulf Kirsten’s nice storm partner. Won the DFB Cup in 1993.

14th place: Jorginho

Probably the most ingenious right-back “at Bayer”. Three years at the top level before moving to Bayern in 1992, named the team of the century by Werkself fans in 2004.

13th place: Rudi Völler

At the end of his big career, the world champion stormed Bayer between 1994 and 1996 and was an audience favorite right away, scoring 26 goals in 62 games in the first division. Escaped relegation in his final fight.

Rudi Völler celebrates after the victory in Kaiserslautern in 1996, which held Leverkusen in the BundesligaFoto: WITTERS SPORT-PRESSE-FOTOS

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Rudi Völler celebrates after the victory in Kaiserslautern in 1996, which held Leverkusen in the BundesligaPhoto: WITTERS SPORT PRESS PHOTOS

12th place: Rüdiger Vollborn

Turntable with 401 Bundesliga matches, honorary captain. Only the goalkeeper was on the field when they won the Uefa Cup in 1988 and when they won the DFB Cup in 1993.

11th place: Toni Kroos

Borrowed from Munich for a year and a half. The absolute breakthrough was his season under Jupp Heynckes. Kroos played so incredibly well that Bayern logically brought him back.

10th place: Florian Wirtz

The factory club’s youngest goal scorer in 17 years and 34 days. Wirtz broke one record after another until his cruciate ligament fracture became the U21 European champion and senior national player. He is the future of the club personified.

9th place: Dimitar Berbatov

The Bulgarian was an esthetician. His goal – the striker scored a total of 91 for Bayer – was works of art. After Ulf Kirsten’s career ended, he was rightly allowed to take over his number 9.

8th place: Kai Havertz

The talent of the century. Promoted directly to the professionals after the U17 Championship in 2016, developed into a world-class attacking player for whom Chelsea paid around 100 million euros.

7th place: Emerson

Between 1997 and 2000, he was the top defensive midfielder. The Brazilian was especially characterized by his speed and an absolute will to win.

6th place: Jens Nowotny

Best German defender in Leverkusen. Had he not torn his cruciate ligament over against Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final in 2002, at least one of three possible titles would have been won.

5th place: Ze Roberto

No one before or after him has dressed the left flank better than the amazing Brazilian. What he played between 1998 and 2002 deserves only one word: world class!

4th place: Bernd Schneider

Because of his ingenious technique, the 2002 vice-world champion was nicknamed “white Brazilian” by his colleague Emerson. A back injury forced “Schnix” to end his career in early 2009.

3rd place: Michael Ballack

The excellent and productive playmaker will always stand for the best Werkself, who enchanted Europe in 2002. His unfortunate second time at Leverkusen, which was overshadowed by injuries, does not change that.

2nd place: Ulf Kirsten

“Lord of the Goals” is not only an honorary captain, but above all the most successful and best goal scorer Leverkusen has ever had. 181 goals in 350 Bundesliga matches. His main goal: The header to 1-0 in the cup final in 1993 against Hertha’s amateurs.

1st place: Lucio

They called him “the beast”. The defender led Bayer to the Champions League final in 2002, scoring 1-1 in a 2-1 draw against Real. As a Leverkusen player, he then became world champion with Brazil. A year later, he played a big role in staying up.

Top 11:

Vollborn – Nowotny, Lucio, Zé Roberto – Kroos, Emerson – Schneider, Ballack, Wirtz – Havertz, Kirsten.

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