Turbine Potsdam: Queens of the Underground

Turbine Potsdam are among the most decorated football teams in Germany. Their first team total of 17 major trophies puts them second, only behind powerhouses Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund respectively.

In fact, Turbine are still the only East German side to win a title since the re-unification of Germany in 1990. This makes them East Germany’s most successful side of all time.

The story of Turbine Potsdam Women is one of remarkable success, ingenuity and hard work.

An overlooked success story

Having formed in 1970 through an energy supplier (hence the name Turbine) they have worked independently of a men’s side. They are solely reliant on their own support and income, regularly attracting healthy crowds to the Karl-Liebknecht-Stadion.

Success came with the re-appointment of original manager Bernd Schroder. An appointment that lasted from 1997 to 2015, encompassing six Frauen Bundesligas, three Deutsche-Pokals and of course the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

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It’s the kind of golden era most clubs can only dream of. A dynasty that culminated in 2010, witnessed by a crowd of 17,000. The ‘small’ German
club from the city of Potsdam won the UEFA Champions League.

It was their second Champions League in six years, having won the competition in 2005.

Following the achievement, Bild – Germany’s footballing newspaper – wrote two articles of less than 500 words. It was that much maligned reasoning of time and place, whilst women’s football is now attracting large crowds for the biggest occasions.

The last Champions League final attracted 20,000 in Bucharest, while England’s upcoming friendly with Germany has sold out 90,000 capacity Wembley.

Mainstream football was still ignorant of the women’s game, sealing Turbine’s fate as ‘unknowns’ rather than their rightful place amongst
Europe’s elite.

Like many of the best ‘one-off’ European teams, their prized assets were sold to the more established and wealthier clubs.

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Babett Peter would be sold to fellow German challengers FFC Frankfurt, before moving to the outstanding VfL Wolfsburg side in 2014. Josephine Henning would also make the move across Germany before spells at both Olympique Lyonnais and Arsenal.

Anja Mittag would trace the same path furrowed by her teammates, stopping at Paris Saint-Germain and Rosengard along the way before joining VfL Wolfsburg in 2016.

Bittersweet history

20 May 2010 in Madrid would ultimately be their last day in the sun. Turbine went on to win the Frauen-Bundesliga the following year and fell at the last hurdle to defend their Champions League crown.

Since that last title win in 2011, they have slowly descended the table. Briefly interrupted by a third-place finish last year, replaced by the new interest and money that has flowed into women’s football and into the likes of VfL Wolfsburg and Bayern München.

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Had their success come a few years later – buoyed by the momentum of interest in women’s football today – they would have stood toe-to-toe with the likes of Olympique Lyonnais in mouthwatering clashes for years to come.

Sadly it wasn’t to be. However, Turbine did it before it was cool – regardless of interest and solely for the sport.

Although they may never have their modern day golden moment, they will always be the symbol of how it’s done. They will always be remembered for the success they had by those who know. Turbine Potsdam will always be the Queens of the Underground.