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Trio from an historic team

Peter Kleeschätzky, Jörg Hoßbach, and Markus Kullig are former VfL Wolfsburg players who work at the Wolfsburg plant. They achieved a sensational feat 20 years ago.

Recalling their promotion to the Bundesliga 20 years ago (from left): Markus Kullig, Jörg Hoßbach, and Peter Kleeschätzky in the stand near the journalists’ section at VfL Wolfsburg’s old stadium.

The old VfL soccer stadium is a stone’s throw from the Wolfsburg plant. Peter Kleeschätzky, Jörg Hoßbach, and Markus Kullig talked to inside at the place where they celebrated the biggest sports triumph in their careers. Twenty years ago they were part of the VfL Wolfsburg team sensationally advanced to the Bundesliga – Germany’s top division. The team has played in the Bundesliga ever since. The trio worked for Volkswagen before their soccer careers, and continue to do so today at the Wolfsburg site.

“A momentous day that we’ll never forget, wouldn’t you say?” asks Hoßbach as conversation turns to June 11, 1997. Kleeschätzky and Kullig nod in agreement. On the season’s last day of play, VfL Wolfsburg beat Mainz 5–4 in one of the most spectacular games in the club’s history.

At halftime, the team coached by Willi Reimann led 3–1. When play started again, Mainz equalized in just nine minutes. But then Wolfsburg went back on the attack. Defender Kleeschätzky was brought on and helped to maintain the lead. Goalkeeper Hoßbach and midfielder Kullig cheered on their fellow team members from the sidelines.

“We didn’t have a star, but we were strong as a team,” says Kleeschätzky in describing the secret of their success. “The year before we got promoted, we had actually narrowly avoided being relegated, and only managed to remain in the second division thanks to a very strong finish. That brought us together as a team.” Kullig, the youngest of the three, adds, “No one expected us to advance to the Bundesliga. So we didn’t have any pressure, which was a big help.”

The most important lesson that the trio learned from their sporting careers was that working as a team is the only way to achieve real success. “That plus the undying desire to win,” remarks Kleeschätzky. Sitting in the stands, he looks beyond the stadium at the four smokestacks of the plant – bridging his former career with his current professional life.

» We didn’t have a star, but we were strong as a team. «

Peter Kleeschätzky