Hannoverscher Sportverein von 1896, more commonly known as Hannover 96, was founded in 1896 as a sports club primarily interested in rugby and athletics. However, by 1899 the football club became their top priority.
In the early yeara, Hannover competed in various regional leagues. Under the Third Reich, German football was restructured and Hannover were placed in the Gauliga Niedersachsen, which they won in 1935 and 1938. In 1938, they also became national champions for the first time. After the end of the Second World War, prior to the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963, Hannover played in the Oberliga Nord, which they won in 1954.
Hannover would go on to become German champions for a second time in 1954. Despite this, the club was not included as one of the teams in the first ever Bundesliga season. However, Hannover 96 achieved promotion to the top flight in 1964. The seasons that followed included several relegations and a large amount of time spent outside of Germany's top tier. As a result of these struggles, the team encountered financial difficulties in the 1970s, which would continue until the 1990s. These problems would be eased by an unlikely DFB Cup success in the 1991-92 season when they beat Borussia M'gladbach on penalties. In winning the trophy, Hannover became the first second division club to do so since the formation of the Bundesliga. In 2010–11, the club would become a surprise package in the top flight, finishing in 4th place, qualifying for the UEFA Europa League for the first time in the process.
Notable players to represent the club include Jörg Sievers, Dieter Schatzschneider, Hans Siemensmeyer, Per Mertesacker and Robert Enke.
The team plays its home matches at the AWD-Arena, formerly known as the Niedersachsenstadion. The ground has a capacity of 49,000 for league matches and was used as one of the venues for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.