Bayern’s football legacy would be formed on 27 February 1990 when the German Football Association (DFB) decided to deny membership to players from the MTV 1879, a Munich gymnastics club. In protest, eleven footballers, led by Franz John, instead founded a club of their own – FC Bayern Munich – and what a beautiful decision that would turn out to be.
During its early years, the Bavarian club would start small, developing from winning some local trophies in the 1900s to several regional champions in the 1920s and eventually to their first national title in 1932.
However, Nazism would have an adverse effect on their climb to the summit. Many of its Jewish members would be forced to flee during the lead up to the Second World War, purging the club of its talent, meanwhile, local rivals 1860 Munich gained much nationalist support.
As a result, Bayern would fall into mid-table obscurity until 1955 when they won the DFB-Pokal for the first time, although financial struggles would halt further success until they won promotion to a newly-formed Bundesliga in 1965 thanks to the young talents of Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller and Sepp Maier – who would later be collectively referred to as ‘the axis’.
Despite being newly-promoted, Bayern wasted no time making their mark in Germany, finishing third and winning the DFB-Pokal in their first season in the top flight. It qualified them for the European Cup Winners’ Cup, which they won with a dramatic extra-time 1-0 victory over Scottish side Rangers.
Then, after switching from an offensive style of play to a more disciplined approach, the Bavarians enjoyed more success, achieving the first league and cup double in Bundesliga history in 1969 in which head coach Branko Zebec only used 13 players throughout its entirety.
They would continue to win titles domestically here and there but it would be their magnificent entrance onto the European stage which would really cement their status among the world’s best.
Bayern beat Atletico Madrid 4-0 in the replay to seal the 1974 European Cup Final, and not satisfied with one, the German outfit would successfully defend the title twice: first in 1975 by defeating Leeds United and then again a year later against Saint-Etienne – becoming the last club to win three consecutive European Cups before it was converted into the modern-day Champions League.
However, the 1980s was a complicated decade for Bayern. Personnel changes and financial problems would bring a host of off-field turmoil but their stars Paul Breitner and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (nicknamed FC Breitnigge) still helped them to lift the Bundesliga in 1980 and 1981, as well as a couple DFB-Pokals.
Udo Lattek also returned to the helm in 1983, to great effect, winning five league titles in six seasons, including a double in 1986, although European glory would again evade them until the millennium.
RENEWED INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS
Days after winning their third consecutive Bundesliga title in 2001, Bayern would go on to lift their fourth European trophy (first Champions League) by defeating Valencia on penalties, after a 25-year gap and would also take home the Intercontinental Cup at the start of the next season.
The following 16 campaigns would also be dominated by the Bavarian club in Germany, winning 10 Bundesliga championships and eight DFB-Pokals but the 2012-13 season would be the stand out of them all.
Boasting the likes of Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, Bayern would become the first and only German side to secure the Continental Treble – consisting of the league and cup titles, plus the illustrious Champions League – after they beat rivals Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in the European final.
Although they have since failed to win another trophy on Europe’s biggest stage, they have continued their league dominance and are without a shadow of a doubt, Germany’s most successful club domestically and internationally – an amazing feat given their humble beginnings – and show no signs of stopping anytime soon as they look a certain bet to win their sixth successive league title in May.
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