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The joke in the schoolyards of the 1970s used to ask who the most unpopular man in football is. The answer? The fan in the Borussia Mönchengladbach stadium that starts a chant by yelling ‘give me a B’!
The first part of one of the longest names in European football comes from the Latin name for the former kingdom of Prussia. The name of the city, located just 20km from the Dutch border, used to be Gladbach, and the München part was added in 1888 to avoid confusion with another town of the same name. But this led people to wrongly assume that it was a suburb of Munich, so the ü was changed to an ö.
The club’s golden age was the 1970s, when it played in four UEFA Cup Finals (winning two) and also reached the European Cup Final in 1977, losing to Liverpool. The five-time Bundesliga champions from 1969 to 1977 became known as The Eleven Foals (‘Die Fohlenelf’) because of their youth and feisty football.
The mastermind of that marvellous Borussia team was Udo Lattek, who would later manage FC Barcelona for two years – guiding the Catalans to European Cup Winners' Cup victory in 1982.
Borussia had an extraordinary squad back then. Berti Vogts, who now works for the US national team, spent his entire playing career at Mönchengladbach and holds the club record for appearances. Its all-time top goalscorer is Jupp Heynckes, well known in Spain for managing Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao. Like another legend, Günter Netzer, he was Mönchengladbach born and bred. All three featured in West Germany's World Cup winning squad of 1974, as did the great Rainer Bonhof.
It was during that era when Borussia paid two visits to Barcelona as guests at the Gamper Trophy back in the days when it featured four teams. They won the 1972 edition, but didn’t meet Barça, who lost to CSKA Sofia in the semi-finals. In 1973 the Germans were back, and this time met the hosts in the final, which ended 2-2 with Barça taking the trophy on penalties.
The club has has two Ballon d'Or winners in Dane Allan Simonsen and Russian Igor Belanov, while other names associated to the club include German greats Stefan Effenberg, Lothar Matthäus and Oliver Neuville, former US goalie Kasey Keller, Austrian Anton Polster and Swede Martin Dahlin.
Four players have played for both Barça and Borussia. No prizes for knowing Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, while one of the others has already been mentioned above. If you don’t know who the other two are, you’ll find the answer here.
Three current Barça players have played The Foals before. Ivan Rakitic played them four times when he was at Bundesliga club Schalke 04. And both Aleix Vidal and Denis Suárez were in the Sevilla team that put the Germans out of the Europa League in the 2014/15 season.
The side coached by André Schubert finished fourth in the German championship last season, and as a result had to get through a qualifying round to seal a place in the Champions League. They passed the test with flying colours, beating Young Boys of Switzerland 9-2 on aggregate.
This will not be the first time that Ter Stegen has returned to Borussia-Park since joining Barcelona. The stadium was the venue for Germany’s 2-0 friendly defeat of Finland on September 1 earlier this year, and he played the first 45 minutes in the Mannschaft goal.
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