In the bus "the cow flies": 1. FC Kaiserslautern triggers an earthquake

With promotion to the 2nd Bundesliga, pride has returned to 1.

In the bus "the cow flies": 1. FC Kaiserslautern triggers an earthquake

With promotion to the 2nd Bundesliga, pride has returned to 1. FC Kaiserslautern. The environment is totally euphoric, the ambitions are already gigantic again. A lot of work awaits those responsible. There are greetings from the sad ex-coach.

1. FC Kaiserslautern celebrated promotion to the 2nd Bundesliga at a big party in front of 10,000 enthusiastic fans on the city's Stiftplatz. The joy at the return of the Red Devils to the second highest football class after four years was great beyond the city limits in Rhineland-Palatinate. The Ascension Party started in the afternoon and lasted late into the evening. After years of sadness and great financial difficulties, pride has returned to the traditional club. "The club went through a lot of shit," said midfielder Hikmet Ciftci after the 2-0 (0-0) win in the relegation second leg at Dynamo Dresden: "It should be a gift for the club, for the fans."

In the fourth attempt they were "finally out of the 3rd league", as captain Jean Zimmer rejoiced, who also confessed: "There are very, very many little eyes." After three defeats in the final sprint of the league, very few had expected this happy ending. But the new coach Dirk Schuster breathed life back into the Red Devils. He drummed into his dejected players "that relegation is not a punishment, but an opportunity," reported the coach, who in his most successful time had already led Darmstadt 98 from third division to the Bundesliga.

"The team triggered an earthquake," said Mayor Klaus Weichel in the evening. At the party on Stiftsplatz, strikers Terrence Boyd and René Klingenburg came on stage with cigars, Mike Wunderlich brought an XXL bottle of whiskey and passed it on to the fans in the audience. With a song, pop star Mark Forster contributed to the wonderful atmosphere of the up-and-coming community. "We're really looking forward to the second Bundesliga," said captain Jean Zimmer. "We're facing really cool opponents now." And: "This celebration today was the icing on the cake for the last few weeks!"

Minister-President Malu Dreyer congratulated FCK, who managed to get promoted with "huge willpower, a lot of passion". "I'm looking forward to the games in the 2nd Bundesliga for the fans, the city and the region and personally," she said. SPD Sports Minister Roger Lewentz was delighted with the promotion "with all my heart". The Palatinate and the great fans more than deserved this first stage of the ascent marathon. "Betzenberg, who sold out several times in the 3rd division, belong back in the upper house of German football," he emphasized.

The exuberant atmosphere at the public viewing in the Fritz-Walter-Stadion with 7500 fans also showed how euphoric the environment of the four-time champion is. There's no question: the club "craves for success," as Schuster found out after just two weeks in office. Manager Thomas Hengen, who personally took an extremely high risk with the late change of coach from Marco Antwerp to Schuster, did not want to reveal anything about personnel planning for the second division season: "Today and tomorrow it's time to blow your head."

Antwerp paid tribute to 1. FC Kaiserslautern, if not entirely without nostalgia. "The team, the whole club, did a great job. I'm proud of the boys," he said at Sport1, but also admitted: "Of course it wasn't easy for me emotionally to follow the relegation games." The players always believed in their chance, said Schuster and also thanked Antwerp: "Today we completed what he prepared."

The announcement by the German Football Association that proceedings would be initiated against both clubs because of the incidents during the relegation game cast a shadow over the celebration. The DFB announced this at the request of the German Press Agency. After the second FCK goal in added time, the game was interrupted for several minutes because flares and firecrackers were thrown onto the pitch from the Dresden fan block. Dynamo club flags were also burned.

The Palatinate heroes had already celebrated on the way back from Dresden and "let the cow fly" on the bus, as Schuster said. Shortly after the final whistle, the Red Devils ran to their fans, jumped and danced with their supporters and drank the first beer on the pitch while the fans yelled: "Lautern is the hottest club in the world!" Out of respect for the opponent and probably also out of concern about an escalation of the already heated atmosphere in the Dresden Arena, he urged his players to "celebrate a little more cautiously in the stadium".

Midfield player Mike Wunderlich made it clear where the club wants to go: "The club doesn't belong in the 3rd division and also not in the 2nd division. We've at least taken the first step," said the veteran and thanked him shortly before the Antwerp released from relegation: "The coach did a great job, and so did the new coach." For the people of the Palatinate, a four-year period of suffering ended in sadness. Defender Kevin Kraus announced in exuberance: "We'll party until we lose our mother tongue."

Since the conclusion of the insolvency proceedings in December 2020, the FCK has been officially debt-free, and the financial plus in the double-digit million range through the rise has helped enormously. The loss-making business in the 3rd league has come to an end thanks to the much higher media funds, and the value of the club should increase massively. With the involvement of several investors, he might even be able to advance into new spheres. With its radiance and the myth of Betzenberg, FCK is also an enrichment for the second division. Now the club just has to learn calmness and continuity. "The 15 months I've been at FCK," said Hengen, "feel like 15 years."