From Van Basten's Volley To Müller Magic: When The Olympiastadion Struck Gold

The historic Munich stadium will open its doors once again next season
16:00, 25 Jun 2020

It has been 15 long years since a football was kicked at the Munich Olympiastadion in official club competition but the historic stadium will throw open its doors once again to allow club Türkgücü München to play some of their games in the 3.Liga next season.

Türkgücü and the city of Munich have been beset by a stadium tug-of-war. Whilst Bavarian behemoths Bayern München sit pretty in their glossy Allianz Arena, nine miles across town lies the Städtisches Stadion an der Grünwalder Straßenot. Türkgücü had been using the Forever Sportpark in Heimstetten, the home of the regional league team SV Heimstetten but when Türkgücü submitted the license documents to the DFB to participate within the third division after promotion, the club named the Grünwald Stadium as the planned venue.

The German Football Association (DFB) however only allows 50 games in one stadium. Türkgücü would be sharing Grünwalder with city rivals TSV 1860 München and FC Bayern München II. With 19 home games each per season, the three Munich clubs have 57 games, plus DFB and Toto Cup matches. And since neither of the current occupants refused to budge, Türkgücü would have had to become temporarily homeless.

Step forth, the Munich Olympiastadion.

When the Olympiastadion was completed in 1972, it became the first stadium to possess undersoil heating and VIP boxes and became home to Bayern München for over 30 years. To christen the venue, Bayern duly beat Schalke 04 5-1 in their first game there in the June to seal their third ever Bundesliga title. The last men's game took place in 2005 between FC Bayern and 1. FC Nürnberg and in 2012, the stadium hosted the Women's Champions League final. It is now a national monument, the stage under that famous tented roof having played host to many memorably football glories, protected. 

The Record Breakers

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Bayern Munich are Germany’s Vladimir Putin. They refuse to relinquish their power. As of 2020, they’ve won the last eight Bundesliga’s, and 29 of the 57 editions. But back in the early 1970s it was a very different story. At the start of the decade, the club had only two league titles to its name.

Their third was anointed with the opening of their home of 33 years. The Olympiastadion’s curtain-raiser on June 28 1972 was the first live televised match in Bundesliga history, so all eyes were really on this grand, brand-new apple of Munich’s eye. Bayern beat Schalke 5–1 and thus claimed the title - something they’d reclaim in the next two seasons - whilst also setting several records, including points gained and goals scored. The great Gerd Müller also bagged the Torjägerkanone for a simply astonishing 40-goal season.


When England beat Germany 5-1

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England doesn’t have much to celebrate on the international stage, but when they do, the followers of the Three Lions really do run with it. They’ll go on….and on….and on. Kind of like Liverpool. There’s 1966 and...well that’s pretty much it. Of course, the best of the rest goes to this particular footballing triumph on German soil, bringing back the best and worst of good old patriotism that of course harks back to the Conflict of 1939-1945. 

The Germans had only ever lost one World Cup qualifier on home soil and never been beaten at the Olympiastadion in Munich. Michael Owen (remember when he was really this good?) put an end to that admittedly impressive record with a hattrick. In the first year of his English reign, one which promised so much, Sven-Göran Eriksson was the man in the dugout watching on and England scored goal after goal, leading even at the break and, at full-time, running out 5-1 winners.

The 1974 World Cup Final

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Johan Cruyff was named Player of the Tournament, but that was of little consolation to either the peerless Dutchman nor a Holland at the height of their paragonic powers. 30 years since the Netherlands had been released from the occupation endured during World War II, the 1974 World Cup Final produced one of the marquee couldn’t-write-it contests, as one of the most fierce and ‘true’ rivalries in the whole of football was given the world stage: The Netherlands v West Germany. 

Holland and Total Football were expected to triumph at the Olympiastadion, but the hosts had other plans, upsetting expectations with their pragmatic style diluting Netherland’s aesthetically pleasing slickness and silk. West Germany went on to win 2-1 and claim their second World Cup, whilst the Oranje have yet to reach these heights again. More positively, West Germany lifting the Jules Rimet on home turf proved to be a fitting swansong for great German striker Gerd ‘Der Bomber’ Müller, who consequently retired from international duty, literally on top of the world.


That Van Basten Volley

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The Netherlands avenged their opening loss to the USSR and Marco showed why no one puts Basten in the corner as the Olympiastadion was the setting for the climax of the UEFA Euro Championships in 1988. The Soviets had bagged the bragging rights in the group stages with a 1-0 victory, as van Basten had to watch from the bench for the majority of the game.

The AC Milan forward would subsequently start every game for Rinus Michels side for the rest of the competition, claiming a hat-trick against England - becoming one of only eight players to score three goals in a single match in the competition’s 60-year history - and then the semi-final winner against hosts West Germany (avenging that World Cup defeat), allowing them to face the USSR once again.

Marco van Basten set up skipper Ruud Gullit for the Oranje’s first before taking the spotlight for his own on 54 minutes with the most sublime volley you’ll ever see, at an almost unnatural angle a strike that stands alone in the history of the competition. Van Basten bagged the Top Goalscorer award of the tournament, and would win the first of his three Ballon d’Ors (a feat only bettered by Messrs. Ronaldo and Messi) by that year’s conclusion.


1997 Champions League Final

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How do you crown your first ever Champions League triumph? By having the ceremony in the home of your arch rivals of course! That’s what the unfancied Borussia Dortmund managed to accomplish back in 1997. The Olympiastadion had played host to the UCL final just four years earlier as Olympique de Marseille ran out the inaugural winners of the revamped competition but it’s most memorable Champions League headline event came as Borussia Dortmund once again travelled south to Munich, to face Italian giants Juventus in the ultimate football showpiece. 

Juventus had the might of Zinedine Zidane, Alen Boksic, Didier Deschamps, Ciro Ferrara, Christian Vieri and, on the bench, Alessandro Del Piero. Dortmund’s team included a trio of former Old Ladies, Jürgen Kohler, Paulo Sousa and Andreas Moller (all of whom had played for Juve against Dortmund in the UEFA Cup win in ‘93), as well as Paul Lambert. Laugh all you want, but the Scottish future Ipswich Town manager stifled Zidane out of the game, and a brace by Karl-Heinz Riedle and a goal from Lars Ricken allowed BVB to get their hands on Old Big Ears. 

To celebrate the ultimate club football triumph on nemeses’ turf, on Bayern Munich’s patch, behind enemy lines, Dortmund managed to do something no team has yet managed to emulate in the Champions League era.

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