The Bundesliga is known as one of the top football leagues in Europe and the cream of the crop of German football.

As far back as the early 20th century, German football had been played by a series of small regional amateur level leagues. Perhaps the precursor to the Bundesliga can be considered the Deutscher Fußball Bund (DFB), which housed 86 member clubs.

Through the 1950s, this league was considered to be one of the best leagues in Europe and it attracted Germany’s best players from the semi-pro leagues.

Around this time, however, it became clear that something had to change in German football as the German National Team continued to falter on the biggest stages.

This was when discussions of the centralized league really began to take hold and national team head coach Sepp Herberger said, “If we want to remain competitive internationally, we have to raise our expectations at the national level.” Now the league is widely followed, and if you’re a fan check out some bundesliga stats here.

While it was certainly a slow build that ultimately led to the creation of the Bundesliga as it is known now, a defeat by the national team by Yugoslavia, 0-1, in the 1962 World Cup as a major impetus.

The very next day, Herman Gosmann, the DFB president, created the Bundesliga in Dortmund, Germany with the plan to begin play in the 1963-64 season.  At the time, this was quite radical as there were five total premier leagues in West Germany’s North, South, West, Southwest, and Berlin. East Germany was still not a part of such league as it still existed behind the Soviet Union’s Iron Curtain.

To begin the first league season, 16 teams were selected based on their past success on the field.

Less than a year later, the very first Bundesliga match was played on Aug. 24, 1963. The league went on to great success and following German reunification, the East German leagues were merged into the West German system. The only two teams that initially made it to the top tier of the Bundesliga division were the Dynamo Dresden and F.C. Hansa Rostock.

Since then, not only has the Bundesliga become one of the most competitive leagues in Europe, with teams like Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich enjoying periods of dominance at the club level, but the German National Team has become arguably the best national team of the last few decades. Since the inception of the Bundesliga, which serves as a crucial training ground for homegrown talent, the Mannschaft as it is known has won three World Cup championships and has appeared in three more finals.

Just like the major football leagues all over the Europe, the Bundesliga has its own culture for both fans and players. If you are lucky enough to call yourself a fan of one of the teams in the Bundesliga, you can now be proud to know just a little bit about the great history of this league that not only unified Germany, but brought it to the forefront of international football.