After his successful spell at FC Aarau, Emanuel Pogatetz did not want to return to Bayer 04 Leverkusen straight away. Instead he wanted to be able to gain more first-team football experience for at least another year.
His promoter Walter Schachner recently became Head Coach of GAK, a club with a lot of tradition based in Graz, the hometown of Emanuel Pogatetz. Because of this, Emanuel Pogatetz was very happy when Bayer Leverkusen agreed to send him on loan for another two years, and what would have been more suitable than joining a club in his hometown, although GAK was the arch rival of his beloved Youth Club Sturm Graz.
At the Austrian Bundesliga Team GAK (highest division in Austrian football) Emanuel Pogatetz established himself straight away as an indisputable regular playerof the first team.
Only in his first Season with the Graz based team, he was able to win the Austrian Double by winning the Austrian Cup and the Austrian Championship. It was the first Championship Title in the long history of GAK and therefor was frenetically celebrated by the supporters.
Emanuel Pogatetz came very close to qualify with GAK for the Champions League, only to be knocked out of the Competition at the last Round of Qualification in both Seasons he was playing for them.
In the Season 2003/2004 GAK failed to qualify against the Dutch Giants Ajax Amsterdam. Although Emanuel Pogatetz gave his club the lead with a powerful header in the first Game at home, the game ended 1:1, and after losing 2:1 in extra time at Amsterdam GAK didn’t qualify for the Champions League. At least GAK was now qualified for the UEFA Cup, but already in the first round the club got knocked out by Valerenga Oslo.
In the Season 2004/2005 GAK failed against the English Premier League side FC Liverpool.
GAK was the first Austrian Club to be able to defeat an English Club at England and also to win at the famous Anfield Road against FC Liverpool (1:0).
However, because Liverpool won at Graz 2:0, GAK failed to qualify for the Champions League again.
But this time Emanuel Pogatetz had a much better season with GAK in the
UEFA Cup, reaching the
round intermediate stage. On the way through the group stage, they left famous teams like the
Glasgow Rangers, A.J. Auxerre or AZ Alkmar behind, only to be defeated in the end in two very close games by English Premier League Side FC Middlesbrough.