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Inside Bayer Leverkusen's festivities: How Xabi Alonso & Co. celebrated maiden Bundesliga title (WATCH)

Former football star Xabi Alonso has etched his name in history by guiding Bayer Leverkusen to their first-ever Bundesliga title. 

Football Inside Bayer Leverkusen's festivities: How Xabi Alonso & Co. celebrated maiden Bundesliga title (WATCH) osf
First Published Apr 15, 2024, 3:31 PM IST

The Spanish coach Xabi Alonso, etched his name into the annals of football history, doing so with remarkable flair, especially considering the state of the team when he assumed control 18 months prior. Reiner Calmund, former sporting director of Bayer Leverkusen, once poignantly remarked on football's ruthless nature, stating that without a title, one's worth in the sport is diminished. Bayer, unfortunately, epitomised this sentiment, earning the moniker 'Vizekusen,' or 'Secondkusen,' in German, and 'Neverkusen' in English, due to their recurring role as perennial runners-up, seemingly cursed with an inability to transcend their past disappointments.

During a six-year span around the turn of the millennium, Leverkusen found themselves as runners-up four times, including heartbreaking losses in pivotal matches. Manager Klaus Toppmoller's dream of glory was dashed in 2000 when a draw would have secured the title but ended in defeat, followed by subsequent losses in the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal finals in 2001-02, compounded by a heartbreaking defeat in the Champions League final to Real Madrid.

Despite consistently producing top-tier talent, Leverkusen remained unable to clinch major trophies. The club's struggles were epitomised by their nickname and ingrained into their identity.

However, a new dawn emerged with the arrival of Xabi Alonso as manager in October 2022. Despite initial skepticism surrounding his lack of coaching experience at the top level, Leverkusen's sporting director, Simon Rolfes, saw in Alonso a combination of a world-class player and a potential coaching maestro. This belief was quickly echoed by the players, who respected Alonso's illustrious playing career and his astute understanding of the game.

Alonso wasted no time in reshaping the team, recognizing the need for experienced players to complement the existing talent. Leverkusen's summer signings, including Granit Xhaka, Jonas Hoffman, Alex Grimaldo, and Victor Boniface, bolstered the squad with both skill and experience. Despite a significant investment, Leverkusen managed a relatively modest net loss, largely thanks to the sale of Moussa Diaby.

Remarkably, nearly every new addition proved to be a success, contributing to Leverkusen's historic Bundesliga triumph, secured with five games to spare. Alonso's transformation of the team, coupled with his tactical acumen and ability to inspire his players, has not only exceeded expectations but has also made him one of the most sought-after coaches in world football.

Here are some of the celebrations:


A post shared by Bundesliga (@bundesliga)


A post shared by Bundesliga (@bundesliga)

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