Nuri Sahin - the lost son
Looking back on the past season and even the past years, I come to think of a lot of pictures of and moments with Nuri Sahin that put a smile on my face.
In 2001 Nuri joined our Borussia from Dortmund and only a couple of years later there would be a photo taken of him, that would bring every dortmundfan close to tears some years later. This picture shows a young Nuri Sahin, as a ball boy in the Westfalenstadion, overly enthusiastic about the goal celebrations of players like Koller, Ewerthon, Rosicky and Co. Who would have guessed then, that around 8 years later it would be him, celebrating on the pitch whilst maybe other ball boys cheer at him. A lot has happened since that picture of young Nuri Sahin but it was, already, impossible to miss out on the fact that this was a "Dortmunder Jung". The career that would follow, with all its highs and lows, offers enough substance for a whole life. In 2005 he was voted for the best player in the U-17 European Cup and was advanced to the first team of our Borussia. The fact that teams like Arsenal developed an interest in him from very early on didn't seem to bother Aki Watzke. He then stated, that Nuri Sahin wouldn't be going anywhere since he was Dortmund's future. Little did he know that he was absolutely right.
It was a fulminant year that would follow for Nuri. On the 6th of August 2005, he made his debut in the Bundesliga (at the age of 16), on the 8th of October (just turned 17) he scored his first goal for the Turkish National Team. Against Germany. Six weeks later he scored his first goal in the Bundesliga- against Nürnberg.
Nuri Sahin's ascent happend so quickly which makes the descent, that would follow a couple of years later, look like no surprise at all. Nuri had reached its limit, or so it seemed. Our then coach Thomas Doll found no use for the young boy and set his way free to go to Rotterdam, where our former coach Bert van Marwijk welcomed him with open arms. However, before Nuri left, he made a statement to the "Kicker": "One day, I will be able to lead this team". Words, that almost all of us had forgotten again a few weeks later. Back then we had different problems. It was a terrible year for Borussia Dortmund. Sure, we had destroyed Schalkes Championship dreams and would later reach the final of the Cup against Bayern, but in general, there was not a lot to be happy about when it came to football.
It went differently for Nuri Sahin, he played a good year in Rotterdam and came back with the victory of the Dutch Cup Final in his back. If only he had been welcomed with open arms. But yet, what followed was another disappointment. Our new coach Jürgen Klopp wasn't too happy about Nuri Sahin either. The rest is history. Jürgen Klopp and his squad seemed to be just the right people to bring out the best in Nuri Sahin. The development he had gone through in the past three years is incredible.
It took almost four years until Nuri Sahin's statement to the "Kicker" came true. On the 26th of Febuary 2001 Nuri Sahin, team captain due to Roman's injury, lead our team on the pitch. It was a magical game. We all know that it ended 3:1 for us and that we made Bayern burry their Championship dreams for good. But looking back to that game, and the games and years before, it all makes sense. Nuri Sahin has always been ambitious. Throughout all the difficult times he had to face, he was confident enough to never give up. He had to endure a lot of blows below the belt, and all of those of actually very young age. It is impressive that he never gave up but instead, worked on his faults. If you watched him play during the last season, it is no surprise that he was considered to be the heart of the team. The way he balanced the ball closely along his foot, without losing sight of the opposite number or the ball, was amazing. The way he then played a pass over 100 meters up front, whilst that pass actually reached the person it was supposed to reach, incredible. And the free kicks....against Bayern, against Bremen, they were utter joy to watch.
But Nuri Sahin was also a team player. He surely stood out with his qualities, but it seemed like a knew that he needed the right team around him in order to play like that. Against Hoffenheim, when nothing seemed to work, he let Toni Da Silva shoot the freekick that lead to the late 1:1. And also after the- I lost count- missed penalty kick, he decided to let someone else shoot them in the future. Nuri Sahin is a team player. And you could tell, that he developed perfectly under the circumstances of the past three years. He was able to play in a functioning team where his skills suddenly seemed to have grown even more. The way he harmonised with Manni Bender in front of the defense is something I will surely miss next season.
Nuri has never made a secret out of the fact that he would want to conquer the (football)world at some point. It was always clear, that if he got the chance to play for one of the big teams, that he would take it. I had never expected this to happen so quickly but suddenly, in April, we found ourselves confronted with the fact that Nuri would leave us, by the end of the season, in order to go and join Real Madrid. It had always been his childhood dream, and there have been enough discussions about his decision, his words and his thoughts, I don't want to warm any of that up again. We have to face the fact that Nuri Sahin decided to leave us on the climax of our history. A climax that we, also, reached because of him.
I will surely miss you Nuri. I know there are many people who are still angry, and I was surely disappointed as well when you announced your departure. But I know that the ball boy from the picture is still a part of you, and I do believe you when you say that you will always be a "Dortmunder Jung". You made my day with the last minute goal against Cologne, surely a moment I will never forget. Thank you for all your loyalty, your passion, your ambition, your wonderful freekicks and passes, I hope you will be able to live your dream in Madrid and I surely wish you all the best. I am sure, that sooner or later, we will see you again. And don't you dare to score against us then.
But for now, thank you for the ten years in black and yellow and one hell of a Championship Season.