"A dream has come true," enthused Felix Magath as his VfL Wolfsburg players began celebrating a Bundesliga title that few expected them to even challenge for at the start of the season. Only a top-flight presence since 1997, the German champions were able to crack open the champagne after downing Werder Bremen 5-1 on the final day of the campaign.
"I knew we were good but I didn't think we had a chance to win the title," explained Magath, whose side were still as low as ninth during the winter break, nine points shy of then joint-leaders TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and FC Bayern München. Due to take over at FC Schalke 04 next term, the 55-year-old nonetheless feels his charges were worthy winners in the end. "We've put in strong performances all season and I believe we deserved to win the championship."
While Hoffenheim faded without injured striker Vedad Ibišević after the turn of the year and Bayern never settled into a consistent rhythm, Wolfsburg surged up the standings courtesy of 14 victories in 17 games, losing just twice. Perhaps none of those wins was more meaningful than the 5-1 demolition of runners-up Bayern on 4 April. "I explicitly want to congratulate Wolfsburg for winning the German championship – they deserve it," said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, while caretaker coach Jupp Heynckes added: "VfL deservedly won the title. They've played the best football, especially in the second half of the season."
"Before the season started, I did not count on Wolfsburg finishing in the top five," admitted the German Football Association (DFB) president, Theo Zwanziger. "For me, this is an incredible achievement which will always be associated with the name Felix Magath. He has managed to build a strong team full of stars and talents and in the end achieved one of the biggest upsets in the Bundesliga in the past few years."
"At the moment, it's difficult to realise what's happening here, but it's absolutely merited," explained Wolfsburg midfielder Christian Gentner, who celebrated another surprise Bundesliga title with VfB Stuttgart in 2007. His colleague Sascha Riether was of much the same opinion, saying: "This title is the icing on the cake of a great season, at the end of which we've deservedly finished on top."
The newly-crowned champions made it 15 home victories in succession by overcoming Bremen, having remained unbeaten in their back yard all season. Essential to their success was the incredible form of strike duo Grafite and Edin Džeko, the former topping the Bundesliga scoring charts with 28 efforts and his team-mate only two behind. "Today, there will be the biggest party Wolfsburg has ever seen," promised Džeko.
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.