Where Are They Now? Jürgen Klopp’s Mainz Promotion Team of 2004

1. FSV Mainz 05 are now an established Bundesliga side but they have plenty of history in the 2. Bundesliga. After missing out on promotion in agonising style two years in a row, they finally won promotion out of the league for the first time in 2004, all under the stewardship of one Jürgen Klopp.

On the 23rd May 2004, they won their final game of that season 3-0 against Eintracht Trier, seeing them finish third in the table and promoted ahead of Energie Cottbus on goal difference, with Alemannia Aachen, third at kick-off, losing to Karlsruher SC.

Here, we look at the XI that started that day, and marvel at just how many of them followed the then-Mainz icon Klopp into coaching.

Goalkeeper: Dimo Wache

Wache had joined Mainz from Borussia Monchengladbach in 1995 and remained until 2010, seeing both promotions to the Bundesliga and making a record 406 appearances for the Nullfünfer. He came briefly out of retirement to play for SV Mehring in 2012, and the following year he became goalkeeping coach at SV Darmstadt 98. He remains in this role today but is on long-term leave due to knee problems.

Right-Back: Robert Nikolić

Nikolić, the regular right-back in the promotion, made a return to the Bundesliga after 13 years the following season, having started his career with Borussia Dortmund. He played 15 times that year but retired at the end of the campaign and did not remain in football, becoming a clerk instead.

Centre-Back: Manuel Friedrich

Scorer of the second goal in this game, Freidrich would go on to have the most successful career out of this XI. He remained with Mainz until 2007 before spending six years with Bayer Leverkusen. He also won nine caps for Germany in the early days of Joachim Löw’s reign, scoring in the famous 13-0 win over San Marino. He would eventually reunite with Klopp for a brief spell at Dortmund, retiring after another short stay at Mumbai City. He has since trained to become a golf instructor.

Centre-Back: Tamás Bódog

Part of the SSV Ulm 1846 side that rose to the Bundesliga at the end of the last decade, the Hungarian remained with Mainz until retiring in 2006. In what will become a recurring theme, he returned to the club to help with the U23s in 2007. He would later continue as an assistant coach elsewhere, including at RB Leipzig and Bröndby, before launching his own management career in his native country with Diósgyör and Kisvárda, where he was appointed in February 2020.

Left-Back: Marco Rose

The most recognisable player on this list today, Rose would make his loan move from Hannover 96 permanent the same summer and remained with the club until retiring in 2011. He then moved into coaching, initially with the Nullfünfer and later with Lokomotive Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg, who he led to the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League. He is now head coach at Mainz’s Bundesliga rivals Mönchengladbach, winning both games against his old club this season 3-1.

Defensive Midfielder: Christof Babatz

A former Hannover and Hamburger SV player, Babatz remained with Mainz until 2007 and gained iconic status by scoring the club’s first Bundesliga goal against VfB Stuttgart a few months later. He later played for TuS Koblenz and Waldhof Mannheim. He returned to Mainz to take charge of their football school in 2011 and since the start of this year he has also been an assistant coach of their U19 side.

Central Midfielder: Fabian Gerber

Once allowed by Klopp to miss training for his mother’s birthday, Gerber stayed with Mainz until 2007 before a move to Greece with OFI Crete. FC Ingolstadt 04 brought him back to Germany in 2009 and he retired there four years later. After a spell in charge of BSV Rehden, he would become an assistant coach for Mainz’s U23s, before taking similar roles at first team level for Ingolstadt last season and this for 1. FC Nürnberg, where he remains part of Jens Keller’s staff.

Central Midfielder: Mimoun Azaouagh

Moroccon-born but a former Germany U21 international, Azaouagh remained with Mainz until the following winter when he was picked up by FC Schalke 04. Aside from a loan spell back with Mainz, he would also play for VfL Bochum and 1. FC Kaiserslautern. He had a brief spell in the Oberliga with Hessen Dreieich in 2016, and most recently played in a traditional indoor masters tournament for Bochum in early 2020.

Winger: Niclas Weiland

Weiland was already coming towards the end of his career and spent two more seasons with the club before retiring in 2006, with his younger brother Dennis (an unused sub that day, and now a youth coach) playing alongside him for the duration of his time at the club. He later studied sport science and works today as a physiotherapist, and he still lives in the Mainz area.

Winger: Michael Thurk

Thurk (pictured below, left) scored two of the three goals against Trier and topped scored that season with 13 goals, but by the time of this game though he had already agreed a summer move to Cottbus. He returned just six months later however but left, controversially, to rivals Eintracht Frankfurt in 2006. He has now moved into coaching, re-joining as an assistant at Mainz under former teammate Sandro Schwarz last summer but he was released from the role following Schwarz’s sacking in November.

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Striker: Benjamin Auer

Highly rated in his youth but troubled by injuries, Auer (above, centre) remained with Mainz until 2006, and would later play for Bochum, Kaiserslautern and Alemannia Aachen. He became a proven goal scorer in the second tier and his 20 goals for Aachen in 2010-11 were only second to Nils Petersen’s 25 for Cottubs. He retired from professional football the following year after Aachen’s relegation, but played for FK Pirmasens between 2015 and 2017 and he now owns a number of fitness studios.

Substitute: Jürgen Kramny

Kramny, the first of Klopp’s subs against Trier, retired in 2006 after brief spells with SV Darmstadt 98 and Mainz’s second team. He managed the club’s U19 team after that, and would later have short and unsuccessful spells in charge at Stuttgart and Arminia Bielefeld. He currently works with out of contract players and remains hopeful about a return to management.

Substitute: Sandro Schwarz

Klopp’s second substitute, midfielder Schwarz, left that summer for Rot-Weiss Essen, and also played for Wehen Wiesbaden. He would eventually end up back in Mainz, managing the U19s and U23s before taking the top job at the end of the 2016-17 season. He remained in charge for two full seasons, helping to maintain the club’s Bundesliga status in both, but was sacked last November.

Substitute: Christoph Teinert

Teinert replaced two-goal hero Turk in the latter stages of the Trier game. He remained with Mainz until 2007, albeit playing just 10 times in the Bundesliga, and then spent a season each at Wacker Burghausen and VfR Aalen before retiring. He has since become an amateur tennis player.

Honourable Mentions

Unused substitute goalkeeper Christian Wetklo remained for some time as Wache’s back-up and eventually become the club’s number before leaving in 2014. He is now goalkeeping coach for Schalke’s second team.

Players not involved that day include Antônio da Silva, who would go on to win three Bundesliga titles, one with Stuttgart and the others, with Klopp, at Dortmund. Peter Neustädter, who had a long spell in charge of the U23s after retiring and is now a youth coach at Wiesbaden.

Michael Falkenmayer meanwhile was another who returned to the club as a coach. He was an assistant to Schwarz for the first team and, unlike Thurk, remains part of Achim Beierlorzer’s current coaching staff.

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Manager: Jürgen Klopp

Klopp (pictured above, the one in glasses of course) became Mainz coach in 2001 after 11 years as a player, and remained until 2008, a year after the club returned from its first spell in the top flight, to take over at Borussia Dortmund. You probably already know the rest.

Many of the team were reunited, along with the 2009 promotion side, for an anniversary fixture last year at the club’s former Bruchwegstadion home, which they moved out of in 2011. Klopp himself could only join by video link, as he was preparing for the small matter of a Champions League final.

Published by jamesrees1989

Football writer. 2. Bundesliga geek. Ex-Football Radar, VAVEL, Read Bundesliga. Tweets at @germanpyramid and @OxonFootball.

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