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Eintracht Frankfurt
Eintracht Frankfurt

Eintracht Frankfurt e.V. is a professional sports club belonging to the city of Frankfurt in the state of Hesse, Germany. Often referred to simply as Eintracht, it is probably most well-known for its men’s football team which has won 1 German Championship and 5 DFB-Pokals. It recently took the UEFA Europa League in May 2022, winning it for the 2nd time in its history having previously lifted the trophy in its former guise, the UEFA Cup.

Eintracht was a founding member of the Bundesliga during its inception in 1963/64 and has since featured in 53 campaigns at the top-tier, making it the 7th longest serving club in the league’s history. The club also has a women’s football team which has earned numerous honours, both domestically and abroad, to be ranked among the most successful teams in Europe with 4 UEFA Women’s Champions League titles.

Besides football, Eintracht Frankfurt has a long history in a variety of sports as well. The club has 19 sections with separate branches for gymnastics, athletics, field hockey, boxing, tennis, handball, rugby, table tennis, basketball and ice hockey, among others. The football section only controls the academy and reserve-team. The professional players are managed by Eintracht Frankfurt Fußball-AG, a subsidiary of the club.

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Identity

The logo of Eintracht is derived from the coat of arms for the city Frankfurt am Main, which in turn was inspired by the one-headed imperial eagle of the 13th century. It went through significant change by 1980 when a stylised eagle in black and white became its symbol. In 1999, the centenary year of the club, Eintracht returned to a more traditional version and in 2005 adopted a golden eagle named Atilla as its mascot.

The colours of the club are black, red and white; a combination from its two founding clubs Frankfurter FC Viktoria and Frankfurter FC Kickers. Moreover, red and white are colours of the city’s coat of arms while black and white represent the former state of Prussia. The traditional rival of the club is Offenbach Kickers, but there have been only 2 league-games between these Hesse clubs in the past 40 years due to disparity in stature.

Eintracht Frankfurt is also called ‘Die Adler’ (The Eagles), a moniker obtained from its unmistakeable logo. Another name still popular among its supporters is ‘SGE’, taken from ‘Sportgemeinde Eintracht’, the club’s old official name which roughly translates into English as Sports Community Harmony. ‘Schlappekicker’ has been around since the 1920s, when a maker of shoes and slippers was a major financial backer of the club.

History

The formation of Eintracht Frankfurt is traced back to a pair of football clubs from the city both of which were founded in 1899: ‘Frankfurter Fußball-Club Viktoria von 1899’ which is regarded as the original club and ‘Frankfurter Fußball-Club Kickers von 1899’. These two clubs were also the founding members of the Nordkreis-Liga in 1909 and two years later in 1911 merged together to form ‘Frankfurter Fußball Verein’.

The new club drew immediate success winning 3 Nordkries-Liga titles from 1912-14 and thereby qualifying for the South German championship. In 1920, Frankfurter FV joined the gymnastics club ‘Frankfurter Turngemeinde von 1861’ to become ‘TuS Eintracht Frankfurt von 1861’. ‘Eintracht’ means harmony or concord in German and is therefore equivalent to ‘United’ in English concerning the names of football teams.

But at that time, sports in Germany was mostly under the dominance of nationalistic gymnastic organisations and was thus controlled largely by the governing body of the particular sport. Therefore, the gymnastics and football sections of the club decided to part ways in 1927 with the latter emerging as ‘Sportgemeinde Eintracht Frankfurt von 1899’. It went on to claim several titles at local and regional levels in the following years.

The Early Success

Eintracht Frankfurt picked up the Bezirksliga Main-Hessen title 5 consecutive times from the 1927/28 to the 1931/32 seasons while finishing as the runners-up in the following 1932/33 campaign. After getting eliminated in the quarterfinals in the past two years, Eintracht managed to reach the final of the German championship in 1932 but lost 2-0 to FC Bayern München, handing the Bavarian side its first national title.

In 1933, the Nationalist Socialist Party claimed political power in the country and it had decided to divide the top-level of German football into 16 equal leagues, collectively termed as the Gauligen. During the Third Reich Eintracht Frankfurt featured in Gauliga Südwest, where it regularly finished in the upper echelons of the standings and even went on to clinch the title in the 1937/38 season.

A Golden Period

After the end of World War II, the Oberligen emerged as the top-tier of German football. Eintracht Frankfurt grew into a solid 1st division team in the Oberliga Süd, capturing the regional titles in 1952/53 and the 1953/54 season. The latter of these triumphs brought the club its greatest moments when it defeated arch-rivals Offenbach Kickers 5-3 in the national finals to grab its first and only German championship.

As champions of Germany, Eintracht featured in the European Cup for the 1959/60 season where the team put on a splendid run to reach the final of the tournament. Facing defending champions Real Madrid CF, Eintracht lost 7-3 in the match which is still regarded one of the greatest-ever games, courtesy of 4 goals from Ferenc Puskas and a hat-trick from Alfredo di Stéfano, two of the finest players the game has seen.

The Bundesliga Era

Being one of the top teams in Germany during the early 1960’s, Eintracht Frankfurt was amongst the initial 16 teams for the inaugural Bundesliga season, the new nationwide league that was to become the top-division for football in the country. The club finished the 1963/64 campaign in 3rd position, ending 6 points behind the champions 1.FC Köln while it lost the runners-up spot to Meidericher SV because of an inferior goal-ratio.

Eintracht Frankfurt stayed in the top-flight for the next 32 seasons, finishing inside the top-half in the majority of them. But winning the Bundesliga remained a step too far despite taking 3rd position on 5 occasions. The closest it came was in 1991/92 as VfB Stuttgart won the league ahead of BVB Borussia 09 Dortmund on goal-difference. In spite of having a superior goal-difference, Eintracht finished 2 points back in 3rd place.

Although Eintracht did not enjoy Bundesliga success during this period, it had a more glorious record in the cup competitions, in Germany as well as in Europe. The club took its first DFB-Pokal in 1973/74, beating Hamburger SV 3-1 in the final after extra-time. Eintracht Frankfurt then went on to successfully defend its crown in the 1974/75 campaign with a 1-0 victory over MSV Duisburg.

In the 1979/80 campaign, Eintracht reached the final of the UEFA Cup to set up a date with Borussia VfL Mönchengladbach, one of the most successful teams of Germany in the1970’s. M’gladbach won the 1st leg at home scoring two late goals to snatch a 3-2 victory. Eintracht picked up a 1-0 result to win the tie on the away-goals rule after a 3-3 aggregate score-line and secured the first piece of European silverware in its history.

The following season Eintracht Frankfurt reached the final of the DFB-Pokal yet again. It defeated 1.FC Kaiserslautern 3-1 in the championship match to lift the trophy for the 3rd time within a period of just 7 years. However, the club had to wait another 7 years for its next triumph at the end of the 1987/88 season when Eintracht beat VfL Bochum 1-0 in the final of the DFB-Pokal to lift the trophy for a 4th time.

The Recent Decades

During its 30-plus year stay in the top-tier, Eintracht Frankfurt had narrowly survived relegation several times and even went through the playoffs on a couple of occasions. After finishing the 1983/84 season in 16th spot, Eintracht beat MSV Duisburg 6-1 on aggregate to preserve its top-flight status. In 1988/89, it ended in 16th place again but defeated 1.FC Saarbrücken 4-1 on aggregate to remain in the 1.Bundesliga.

Relegations & Promotions

In the 1995/96 campaign, Eintracht finished in 17th position, meaning that the club would be relegated from 1.Bundesliga for the first time since its inception. Therefore, it played the 1996/97 season in 2.Bundesliga but failed to win promotion after ending the term in 7th position. However, the club became the champions in the following campaign to win a move back up to the top-tier.

Eintracht returned to 1.Bundesliga for the 1998/99 campaign but barely managed to skip past relegation, finishing just outside the drop-zone 15th spot, that too, on goal-difference. The 1999/2000 campaign turned out to be a marginally better one with the club ending in 14th position. But it was relegated from the top-tier once again after it could only earn a 17th place finish at the end of the 2000/01 season.

The club was back in 2.Bundesliga for the 2001/02 campaign and again could not get immediate promotion after ending up 7th spot. Eintracht delivered an improved performance in the 2002/03 season with a 3rd place finish handing it a direct promotion to the top-flight without any playoff-tie, according to the promotion-relegation rules in place for the Bundesliga at that particular time.

However, Eintracht Frankfurt suffered its 3rd relegation from 1.Bundesliga after ending the 2003/04 campaign in 16th position. Returning to the 2.Bundesliga for the 2004/05 season, the club managed to secure an immediate promotion to the top-flight this time around with a 3rd place finish. After yo-yoing between the top-2 divisions of the German football league, Eintracht would go on to spend the next 6 seasons in 1.Bundesliga.

Coming back into the top-tier for the 2005/06 season, Eintracht Frankfurt finished in 14th place to remain in 1.Bundesliga. However the team also made it to the final of the DFB-Pokal, which it lost to Bayern München who completed the double that year, while Eintracht earned itself a spot in the UEFA Cup for the following season as the champions had already qualified for the UEFA Champions League.

Eintracht repeated its 14th spot finish in 2006/07 before ending the 2007/08 season in 9th position, finishing in the upper-half of 1.Bundesliga in more than a decade. It failed to improve on this in the next couple of campaigns finishing in 13th place in 2008/09 and 10th in the 2009/10. But the 2010/11 campaign proved to be even more difficult with Eintracht ending it in 17th position to suffer its 4th relegation from the top-tier.

Staying in 1.Bundesliga

Returning to the 2.Bundesliga for the 2011/12 season, Eintracht Frankfurt secured a direct promotion to the top-flight yet again after taking the runners-up spot. Being newly-promoted, Eintracht caused a big surprise by ending 2012/13 in 6th position, its best performance at the top-tier in nearly two decades while it also earned the club a qualification-spot in the UEFA Europa League.

But the exertions in Europe became rather taxing and after getting knocked out in the last-32 by FC Porto despite finishing at the top of its group, Eintracht ended 2013/14 in 13th spot. With no European football the following season, it was able to focus on the domestic league and eventually ended 2014/15 on the fringes of the top-half at a very respectable 9th position.

The 2015/16 campaign was a turbulent one for Eintracht Frankfurt as the club ended in 16th position in the 1.Bundesliga table. Eintracht managed to get past 1.FC Nürnberg with a 2-1 score-line in the two-legged playoff to remain in the top-flight. The 2016/17 season was a better campaign even though the club only ended 5 points above the relegation-spots in 11th position.

The Present

After saving the club from the brink of relegation less than 18 months ago, Eintracht Frankfurt manager Niko Kovač pushed it towards a brighter future in his 2nd full season at the helm. Eintracht finished the next 1.Bundesliga campaign in 8th spot after reaching the final of the DFB-Pokal in 2017/18. It then went on to upset FC Bayern München 3-1 in the championship clash to lift its first major silverware in 30 years.

While Bayern prised away Kovač to be its new manager, Eintracht appointed Adi Hütter as his replacement. In his first season, Hütter improved upon the previous campaign by taking the club up to 7th place in 2018/19, finishing just 4 points outside a coveted UEFA Champions League berth. Eintracht also reached the last-4 of the UEFA Europa League where it went down to eventual champions Chelsea FC in a penalty shoot-out.

The next season was not as cheerful with Eintracht only managing to take 9th position in 1.Bundesliga, falling 20 points behind a top-4 spot and it was also knocked out in the last-16 of the UEFA Europa League by Swiss side FC Basel. The response was a positive one as Eintracht Frankfurt ended the 2020/21 campaign in 5th place, narrowly missing out on a Champions League spot by a single point.

For Eintracht, 2021/22 started with Adi Hütter leaving the club to join Borussia VfL M’gladbach with Oliver Glasner coming in as replacement, which was not a particularly popular decision with fans at the time. Matters were further compounded after the team picked up only 1 win from its opening 10 league-fixtures to leave it floating just above the relegation-zone at the start of November.

Eintracht gained form to rise up to 6th spot by the winter-break. But 3 wins in the latter-half of the season meant a 12th position in the end while the team focussed on the UEFA Europa League and eventually reached the final. Facing Rangers FC at Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán in Seville, the match had ended at 1-1 before Eintracht Frankfurt triumphed on penalties to collect its 2nd European trophy since winning the same one 42 years ago.

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