...and what a year it has been....part one
It was those six minutes in January, six minutes that changed everything. We had whitnessed the probably most astonishing first half of a season there had ever been. But Bayern wouldn't have been Bayern if they hadn't declared that the second half would be their half now and that us people from Dortmund should watch out and realize that there can only be one team in Germany dominant, successful and in the end: Championship winner.
And even the journalists, maybe they didn't exactly doubt us, but in the end, wondered: will this team be able to hold up this standard, this way of playing football, this determination? The answer was given in six minutes in January. They would. They would not only hold up that standard of playing, but write football history and miracles in a new way. Ten years from now, twenty, maybe thirty, I am convinced, people will still talk about this season, this time, this era of a new BVB. A BVB that had given football romance, and everything it stands for, a new meaning. And surely this new football era had started a while earlier. With Jürgen Klopp coming, everything changed. But the year 2011 was important and amazing in so many ways. Let's take a look back at the wonderful, sometimes painful, emotional but always and forever memorable moments of our Ballspielverein in the year 2011.
A wonderful beginning
The new year and thus matchday number 18 couldn't have started better. Dortmund showed the Bundesliga that we weren't satisfied at all showed our opponent number one the way out of their own stadium. Schalke did us a favour and lost and even Bayern didn't manage to score much more than a draw. The look of the table would stick in our heads forever. And even though we lost Kagawa during the winter break due to a broken foot and herewith an important player of our center, our team still did their best to substitute for this loss. It didn't always go the way it had gone in the first half of the season. Downers such as the draws again Stuttgart, Kaiserslautern and also the Derby, where it seemed that Schalke had 11 Manuel Neuers on the pitch that day, couldn't diminish our enthusiasm and the teams passion and effort. Sovereign and beautiful victories against Wolfsburg and St. Pauli made all of us believe that this year wouldn't be less special than the year before had been. We all knew that it would be pretty much impossible to repeat our remarkable effort from the first half, but there were things that were more important. We had learned a lot during the first half. First lesson learned: we suck in the Cup. Dortmund and the cup seems to be a (never) ending story. And the international games? Not on our agends anymore. But we learned something else as well: this team had spirit. And they believed in themselves. It always surprised me how they seemed to have improved just a little bit more, when the task was even more difficult. They simply outgrew themselved.
When everything changed...
Matchday 24 was there to prove all of this. The team hosting our wondeful team? Bayern Munich, and of course it seemed as if those responsible for the red ones were more busy with slacking out team of than with coaching their own team since the game resulted in Robben stomping his foot angrily onto the ground, after Schmelzer and Großkreutz had stolen the ball from him once again and Mats Hummels 3:1 header for our colours gave the ever self-praising team from munich the rest. Our substitute keeper Mitch Langerak celebrated a fantastic debut which resulted in Jürgen Klopps broken glasses. A sacrifice worth making. I remember my dad calling me a while after the game, telling me that the players are still on the pitch celebrating. And that it had seemed as if they wouldn't want to leave the pitch too early. It was these moments as well that marked the new era that had started for our Borussia. The way the team celebrated together. It was never a one-man show. It rather seemed that the one scoring the goal might die the next second because 10 other players had jumped on top of him. A wonderful picture. The pointdifference to Leverkusen by then: 12 points. To Bayern? 14. It was then that our players and coach spoke about the Championsship for the first time. Funnily enough the point distance seemed to melt from then on.
A few ups and downs, but nothing to worry about?
Even though we gained another victory against Cologne the next matchday, one of our most hated opponents welcomed us the next week. Hoffenheim: and as so often, we left Hoffenheim with zero points. Truly a team and a city really noone needs. My personal low came the following week. A last minute draw for Mainz resulted in some bits of frustration. It was one of those games where I was, not necessarily doubting the team, but when some disappointment appeared for the first time. I wasn't upset about draws against Schalke or a defeat like the one against Hoffenheim. But the draw against Mainz disappointed me. For the first time, it seemed like our team was lacking energy, passion, effort and all these things they were made of all the games before. Something was different and I hoped that this was just a bad day for our team and simply a temporary thing. It was not the lost points that caused that feeling. It was simply the attitude. But our Ballspielverein wouldn't be our Ballspielverein if they hadn't found the right answer the very next matchday. Hannover was our guest and the team that scored the first goal after the break. You could tell that there was a slight hint of discontent spreading. What was wrong with our team? Nothing. Mario Götze came, saw and conquered. The rest is history. The moment Mario lifted his shirt to show the meaning of Dede for our team was- and yes, I am emotional- heartwarming.
Weeks to remember
The last six weeks of the football season 2010/11 will never be forgotten. A last minute goal against Hamburg by Kuba and an exploding Jürgen Klopp, an embarrassing defeat against the ponies from the wrong Borussia from Gladbach, and an amazing victory against Freiburg, after an almost even more amazing victory from Bayern against Leverkusen (I have never seen a whole pub of people dressed in black and yellow cheering for Bayern that loud). That game against Freiburg would have been the last one from our Nuri Sahin for Dortmund. It is a cynical picture that of all things, he would injure himself during the game and would therefore never return to us black and yellows on the pitch. Only a few days later he would tell us that he would leave Dortmund in order to go to Madrid. Definetely one of the downers this year. After pretty much every Dortmundfan had cried their eyes out when Dede had announced his departure, losing Sahin leaving was just as much of a shock. We all understood Dede, he wanted to play, and after, or so it felt, millions of tearful interviews and more tearful comments from us Dortmundfans, it was somehow time to let go of our hero Dede. I was never able to let Sahin go. Personally, I still miss him. I do wish him all the best for whatever the future holds for him, but will never give up on the wish to see him back in the Westfalenstadion, wearing the right colours. I still hope for our boy to come home someday.
We are writing the 30. April 2011. I live in Cologne. And usually, Cologne annoys me quite a bit. At least as a footballteam. This day, my love for them was almost unconditional. At least for a few moments. No Dortmundfan will ever forget Norbert Dickel screaming "1:0 for Cologne" out loud in the stadium, not caring that there was actually a game going on down on the pitch. The screams of joy after Colognes 2:0 against Leverkusen were just as much of a highlight as the 1:0 was. And of course our Borussia did its homework. Barrios and Lewandowski signed our 2:0 victory against Nürnberg. It is still impossible to describe the feelings every Dortmundfan felt that day. Let's simply say this much: a shaved head, players on the fence and the crossbar of the goal, beershowers everyway, plastic Meisterschalen all around, people crying, people laughing, people singing, team with fans- fans with team, and somewhere in the middle: Jürgen Klopp watching the scenery, a smug but happy grin on his face. What must have been going on in his head in these minutes? Pictures all of us will never forget: Deutscher Meister ist nur der BVB. The defeat against Bremen stood under the motto: "who cares?" and sending Frankfurt down into the second Bundesliga was just a perfect way of finishing the season 10/11. The city drowned in the colours of black and yellow that weekend. The celebration with the team and everyone revolving around Borussia Dortmund the next would be one of the biggest events ever in Dortmund. Up to 500 000 people came to celebrate the team that had made a difference in football. A team that had gotten the least red or yellow cards, that had scored the most goals, that had gotten the least goals themselves, that had- as I have mentioned before- given football romance a new meaning. It was a weekend of celebrations and tears. The Goodbyes to Dede and Nuri were hard, but as Dede had stated it: The team is on top again, I can leave now that the team is doing fine. And as for Nuri- he had once stated that he would, one day, be able to lead this team. And he did. He was the heart and the soul of the team. He left with Dortmund being right on top. Some people say: it's best to leave when it is the nicest....
Then came the summerbreak. A summerbreak we didn't dread so much I guess. It took some time to come to terms with everything that had happened. It had been an amazing season. No doubt about that. But it was also a very emotional one. I know that I caught myself wandering though streets and alleys, smiling, because of the memories. I was simply enjoying them for a time. Knowing, that, at least for a while, no one can take away the fact that we are the current Championship winner. But more important: noone would ever be able to take away what we have achieved that season. And the memories will always be with us. But, August came and hence a new season began.
...to be continued...