2001: Back on top of Europe after 25 years

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120 years of FC Bayern - that's 120 years full of triumphs, emotions and passion. On the occasion of the club’s 120th anniversary on 27 February, looks back on significant moments in the history of the German record champions.

It had taken 25 years for FC Bayern to return to the top of European football. After winning the European Cup Winners Cup in 1976, the Munich side lifted the coveted Henkelpott again in 2001. "That was awesome, that year will be remembered with great fondness," was Giovane Élber's first reaction when asked him about this achievement.

Success as a team

For the then striker, it was very clear what was crucial in this success. "We had to be one team. Everyone worked for each other and for the coach," said the Brazilian, who also gave Ottmar Hitzfeld a huge slice of the credit: "The coach treated all the players equally, so the team was unified."

New era dawns after 1999

One of the darkest moments in the history of FC Bayern. In the 1999 Champions League final, the Munich side led Manchester United 1-0 for a long time, but lost the match in injury time after United scored two late goals. FCB took a lot of inspiration from this setback, however.

This was not to be taken for granted, as the Champions League victory came just two years after Bayern had lost to Manchester United in the final in the most horrible way imaginable, conceding two goals in stoppage time to lose 2-1. "After a game like that, you really want your career to end," recalls Élber, who was injured at the time for the match at the Camp Nou.

Up and down throughout the season

Upset: In the second round of the DFB Cup, Bayern lose 5-3 to Oberliga club FC Magdeburg after a penalty shootout. However, FCB stuck together and showed fighting team spirit.

"In 2000, we weren't that good, but at the beginning of the 2000/01 season we promised ourselves and told ourselves that we had to pull ourselves together," said the now 47-year-old. The season was a sluggish one. In the cup, Bayerns were eliminated in the second round against Magdeburg (5-3 loss on penalties) and in the league FCB slipped to fifth. "But in the difficult phases, you always noticed the team unity," explains Élber.

Effenberg commits to the team

In the Champions League, Bayern came first in the first group stage (ahead of Paris Saint-Germain, Rosenborg BK and Helsingborg). In the next round, the Munich side suffered a tough 3-0 defeat at Olympique Lyon, hampering their chances of progress. "President Franz Beckenbauer criticised us strongly afterwards - and rightly so," Élber admits. The team sat down in captain Stefan Effenberg's room "and discussed over a few beers what needed to be improved".

Prestigious clash against Real Madrid

It worked! The Munich side again reached the quarter-finals as group winners (ahead of Arsenal, Olympique Lyon and Spartak Moscow). In the quarters they took revenge against Manchester United (winning 1-0 and 2-1). Real Madrid lay in wake, with the previous year's winners taking on FCB in the semi-finals. "That was a huge game, they were the Galacticos," says Élber. "We weren't the best team man for man, but as a team we were strong."

Élber gives everything for the semi-final

With his goal in the 8th minute to make it 1-0 to FCB in the return leg against Real Madrid, Giovane Élber put Bayern on course for the final. But the Brazilian almost didn't make it to the semi-finals.

Ten days before the first leg, Élber underwent surgery on his knee which threatened to make him miss the game. However, the Brazilian gave everything he had to get back quickly and managed to get back on the field just in time – and just as well, as he scored the decisive goal in the 55th minute to seal a 1-0 win in the first leg. In the second leg in Munich, Bayern made it to the final with a 2-1 victory (Élber scored once more, this time in the 8th minute to make it 1-0).

Pulsating finale in Hamburg

Keep going, keep going! In a breathtaking match in Hamburg, Bayern won the league title and with it the wind in their sails for the Champions League final a few days later.

In the league, Bayern were locked in a fierce title race against Schalke 04 and had the chance to win the trophy with a draw at Hamburger SV on the last day of the season. However, Sergei Barbarez scored in the 90th minute to give HSV the lead. Schalke were already celebrating a league title win, but almost immediately Patrick Andersson equalised with an indirect free-kick (Élber: "He'd never scored a free-kick for us before"). Bayern were champions.

A deserved reward: Giovane Élber soaks it up after a dramatic end to the league campaign. And it wasn’t to be the only title in 2001.

“The Hamburg game was very, very important. If we had lost the title there, we wouldn’t have won the Champions League. Our heads would have gone,” says Élber, who worried about déjà vu in the Milan final. Bayern fell behind early in the third minute and Mehmet Scholl squandered an opportunity to equalise when he missed a penalty for Bayern in the 7th minute. “Images of 1999 flashed through our minds. We thought that the world was against us,” the World Cup winner said of the 2001 match.

Victory against Valencia on penalties

Titan! After saving three penalties in the shootout, Oliver ‘Titan’ Kahn was the match-winner in the final against Valencia.

But the team rallied and captain Effenberg equalised from the penalty spot in the 50th minute. In extra time, no team wanted to be too risky and so the teams had to be split by a penalty shootout. Élber was substituted off in the 100th minute and was therefore caught up in all the action from the sidelines. "We'd agreed that I'd come off, I was never a penalty taker." From there the striker watched on as "Oli Kahn had a great day". The goalkeeper saved three penalties in the shootout and Bayern were champions of Europe.

Big parties in Milan and Munich

Winners at last: Giovane Élber celebrates the Champions League victory together with the fans in Munich's Marienplatz.

What followed was pure ecstasy and many celebrations. "I can still remember me celebrating with the trophy and the fans in the stadium, but beyond that I don't remember much," Élber admits. After the team landed in Munich the next day, they had an open-top bus parade to the city hall. "That was the most amazing thing I've ever experienced. Even world champion Lizarazu said he had never experienced anything like it. There were so many people on Leopoldstrasse and in Marienplatz. I'll never forget it." After 25 years, Bayern had finally returned to the top of the pile.

It took another 12 years until Bayern's next Champions League title. But that wasn't the only trophy FCB won in 2013:


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