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It was formerly the best-known department of TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen , a sports club whose members also participate in athletics, gymnastics, basketball and other sports including the RTHC Bayer Leverkusen rowing, tennis and hockey.
In the football department was separated from the sports club and is now a separate entity formally called Bayer 04 Leverkusen GmbH. Eventually this contributed to a split within the club: SV Bayer 04 Leverkusen took with them the club's traditional colours of red and black, with the gymnasts adopting blue and yellow.
Through this period, and into the s, SV Bayer 04 Leverkusen played third and fourth division football. SV Bayer 04 Leverkusen would not return to the upper leagues until , just one season before the formation of Germany's new professional league, the Bundesliga.
The next year saw the club in the Regionalliga West , tier II, where their performances over the next few seasons left them well down the league table.
SV Bayer 04 Leverkusen made something of a breakthrough in by winning the division title, but was unable to advance through the playoff round to the first division.
The club was relegated again in , but made a quick return to what was now called the 2. Bundesliga after just one season spent in the third division.
Four years later, the club handily secured a place in the Bundesliga to start to play there in the —80 season. By the mids, SV Bayer 04 Leverkusen had played its way into the upper half of the league table and was well-established there by the end of the decade.
It was during this time, in , that the two-halves of the club that had parted ways over a half century earlier were re-united as TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen e.
The new club took red and white as its colours. In addition to becoming an established Bundesliga side, the club earned its first honours with a dramatic win in the UEFA Cup.
Down 0—3 to Espanyol after the first leg of the final, Bayer Leverkusen drew even in the return match and then captured the title on penalty kicks, 3—2.
That same year, long-time Bayer Leverkusen executive Reiner Calmund became the general manager of the club. This is regarded as one of the most important moves in the club's history, as Calmund ushered in a decade and a half of the club's greatest successes through shrewd, far-sighted player acquisitions.
The three players would become instant crowd favourites, and make significant contributions to the team.
Calmund also established groundbreaking contacts in Brazilian football , befriending Juan Figer, one of Brazil's most powerful player agents. The club also signed charismatic players, such as Bernd Schuster , and Rudi Völler , helping to ensure the team's popularity and growing success.
This proved so popular with the fans that, very shortly thereafter, the team reverted to its "retro" colours of red and black, colours used on all home jerseys ever since.
Daum was later to be famously fired for a cocaine scandal that also cost him his ascent to the role of the Germany national team coach.
The team earned a series of four second-place finishes from to The finishes of and were heart-breaking for supporters as on both occasions the team had the Bundesliga title within its grasp.
In , Bayer Leverkusen needed only a draw against SpVgg Unterhaching to win the title, but an own goal by Michael Ballack helped send the team to a crushing 2—0 defeat, while Bayern Munich clinched the title with a 3—1 victory over Werder Bremen.
Two years later, the club surrendered a five-point lead atop the league table by losing two of its last three matches while Borussia Dortmund swept ahead with three consecutive victories in its final matches.
The club went through startling reversals of fortune in the next two seasons. The team then flirted with relegation through most of the —03 season , leading to the firing of Klaus Toppmöller , who had coached the team during its most successful year, and he was replaced by the inexperienced Thomas Hörster.
Charismatic coach Klaus Augenthaler took up the reins in the last two games of the season and helped avoid disaster with a win over his previous club, 1.
He then led Bayer Leverkusen to a third-place finish and a Champions League place the following year. That following season's run in the Champions League saw the club get some measure of revenge on Real Madrid, opening its group stage campaign with a 3—0 rout of the Spanish giants,  helping Leverkusen to win the group.
Early in , Augenthaler was fired as manager after the club got off to its worst Bundesliga start in over 20 years, with only one win in its first four league matches and a 0—1 home loss to CSKA Sofia in the first leg of its UEFA Cup match-up.
The —08 season was not a successful one for Leverkusen despite a good start to the season; five out of the last ten league matches were lost to clubs in the lower half of the table.
Michael Skibbe was heavily criticised towards the end of the season after he continuously changed his starting line up.
Bayer Leverkusen also lost a lot of its support towards the end of the season: Michael Skibbe was sacked soon thereafter, leaving the club on 21 May , with club officials stating that his departure was due to the failure to qualify for the following season's UEFA Cup group stage.
The —09 season got off to a great start for Bayer Leverkusen under new manager Bruno Labbadia , who the club had acquired from 2. Bundesliga club SpVgg Greuther Fürth.
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