We loved football and everything revolved around it, so I grew up with it and that's how this passion developed. Havertz joined his first club, Alemannia Mariadorf, aged just four. His grandfather Richard was the long-time chairman at the club, and some say he passed on his own gift for the game.
After spending most of his time with Mariadorf in age groups two years above his own, in - aged 10 - he joined Alemannia Aachen, the biggest club in the region. At that time, they were a Bundesliga 2 side, and Kai was a regular fan.
The youngster only lasted one year at Aachen, though. Not because he wasn't good enough, but because he had shown he was too good. Scouts had been watching Havertz play for several years, but a performance against Leverkusen made one talent spotter want a second look. That was my first impression of Kai. Havertz joined Leverkusen in summer and continued his progression through the ranks.
Up to that point, the left-footed playmaker had overcome every obstacle in his path, but then his body made life hard. I had to get used to my legs being longer - it affects the whole way you play football. I wasn't starting as many games - spending more time on the bench. However, Havertz soon came through those teething problems to help Leverkusen win the German U17 title in The teenager scored 18 goals in 26 games - including the opener in the win over Borussia Dortmund in the final - to lead his team to glory.
That was one of 24 Bundesliga appearances Havertz made for Leverkusen in his debut season at senior level - as well as three in the UEFA Champions League - having become the club's youngest-ever debutant against Werder Bremen in October Four goals and six assists in the Bundesliga made a lasting impression on the league, and his teammates could see they were in the company of a rare talent.
He's quickly become very important to us. While Havertz was making his first strides on the pitch, it was also a crucial time off it. The teenager was finishing secondary school around the time he broke into the Leverkusen first team, which led to some difficult challenges.
Starting out at FC Carl Zeiss Jena, the highly versatile midfielder enjoyed a season at Eintracht Frankfurt before Leverkusen eventually prospered from his many talents, which included long-range goals, superb skills and a voracious appetite for providing assists. To compound matters, Schneider was also in the Germany team that lost the World Cup final to Brazil that summer. All in all, 35 goals in Bundesliga games made the former midfield master an unforgettable presence at the BayArena.
Yet did you know that a major part of Toni Kroos's development came while on an month loan at Leverkusen from Bayern Munich, the club he debuted for at just 17? In four seasons at the BayArnea, King Arturo flourished, scoring 15 goals in Bundesliga appearances.
Earning a runners-up medal in the DFB Cup, Vidal really excelled in his last campaign before departing for Juventus, the Chilean international providing a club best 11 assists as Leverkusen finished behind Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund.
Ballack was named German Footballer of the Year on three occasions and while his stint at Leverkusen provided the thrust for an astonishing career that encompassed five clubs - which included Bayern and Chelsea - there were plenty of lows to balance the highs with Die Werkself.
Already a Bundesliga champion with Kaiserslautern prior to arriving at the Factory Workers in , Ballack formed part of an infamous side dubbed 'Neverkusen' in English, after the team blew a Bundesliga lead, succumbed to Real Madrid in a Champions League final and lost out to Schalke in the DFB Cup showpiece in three second-place finishes in Despite that, Ballack made a huge impression at the club, his powerful midfield presence and eagerness to score leading to 42 goals and 27 assists in games during his two spells at the club.
His return to the European continent led to a happy union between the highly decorated star and Leverkusen following his move to the German side in Not only a Leverkusen legend, but a Bundesliga one.
In fact, Kirsten sits sixth in the all-time standings of Bundesliga goal-getters, his strikes in top-flight games marking him out as a phenomenon during his 13 years with Die Werkself. Unsurprisingly, he is also the club's all-time top scorer with goals across all competitions. Whenever Leverkusen came close to winning a title, Ulf Kirsten was there, but he was also there when the team did enjoy success, netting the wining goal in the DFB Cup final against Hertha Berlin's 'B' team.
As one of the first players to move to the Bundesliga following German reunification, the former Dynamo Dresden star was the first ever player to amass caps for two different teams, East Germany 49 and Germany 51 , scoring a combined total of 34 international goals. The Lichtenfels boy blossomed into one of the Bundesliga's most fearsome strikers and, having remained at the BayArena ever since, is now Leverkusen's second-highest goalscorer of all time with strikes in appearances.
Die Werkself finished a lowly 14th in the prior campaign, narrowly missing out on relegation. A last day loss combined with a Bayern win would ultimately scupper B04s dreams of title glory, however.
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