1. FC Kaiserslautern were one of the founders of the German top flight, Bundesliga, winning it in 1991 and 1998.

However, the Rhineland-Palatinate side face a nervy season as they currently sit bottom in the 2. Bundesliga, facing relegation to the third tier for the first time since the inception of the current German league system in 1963.

As early as 2014, they reached the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal and finished fourth in the second division with hopes of promotion the following season. They ended in the same position in the next campaign but have since dropped further down the table to their current place at rock bottom with just six points from 12 games.

Great history, troubling future?

Kaiserslautern are one of best clubs in Germany in terms of their history and trophy collection, with four national league titles, along with featuring in seven DFB-Pokal finals, winning two of them.

They also made it to the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 1999, losing out to finalists and fellow German outfit Bayern Munich. Two years later, the Red Devils were back in Europe, reaching the UEFA Cup semi-finals before being knocked out by a Jordi Cruyff and Youri Djorkaeff-inspired Deportivo Alaves.

Despite finishing in the top half of the Bundesliga in 2011, Kaiserslautern slipped to 18th the following year and were relegated to the second division, where they have remained ever since.

Academy products left too soon

For a fall from grace such as FCK’s, most would think that it is a financial issue, with debt rising, but this has not been the case, helped quite considerably by their Fritz Walter Stadion, which holds almost 50,000.

One key area has been their struggle to keep hold of their youth products as they begin to make their way into the first team.

Kaiserslautern have some history in seeing world-class players rise through their academy ranks.

Their stadium is named after the 1954 World Cup-winning captain, who spent his entire career at his hometown club. Other World Cup winners have passed through the doors at Kaiserslautern, including two of country’s all-time greatest players in Andreas Brehme and Miroslav Klose.

Michael Ballack, capped 98 times for Germany, is another famous name to have spent time at FCK.

Yet, it is a more recent exodus of talent that has seen their form drop and put them at risk of being relegated to the third division. Among those to leave are Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Kevin Trapp and RB Leipzig defensive star Willi Orban, while Alexander Esswein and Jean Zimmer are also playing Bundesliga football, having left Kaiserslautern in recent years.

A failure to replace these youngsters and gain some momentum to return to the top flight has seen them fall further down the league and now must fight to survive or face seeing this once-great club add some unwanted history to the books. Being relegated to the 3. Liga.