From the verge of bankruptcy to kick-starting a gegenpressing revolution, it’s fair to say Borussia Dortmund fans have been subject to a rollercoaster ride since their Champions League victory in 1997.
And while Jurgen Klopp’s success at Westfalenstadion was built off intensity, functionality and organisation, we can’t overlook some of the supreme talent to strut their stuff in yellow and black over the past couple of decades.
And so, what would a dream Dortmund squad look like if were able to include all the stars from the modern era, say from 1990 on wards? Well, here’s what we think it might look like…
Roman Weidenfeller: The club’s second highest appearance maker with 453, Weidenfeller was BVB’s number one for the best part of 16 years and is an absolute shoo-in for this squad.
Roman Burki: Weidenfeller’s long-term successor, Burki has proved a little less consistent and more error-prone compared to the man that stood before him, but he nonetheless has the potential to be BVB’s number one for much of the 2020s.
Jens Lehmann: Before he became an ‘Invincible’ at Arsenal, Lehmann was a sure-handed shot-stopper amid Dortmund’s rise to the upper echelons on German football at the turn of the millennium. Lehmann was in between the sticks for BVB’s title success in 2001/02.
Lukasz Piszczek: While a well-rounded full back, Piszczek just seems like an all-round swell guy and it’s not surprising he’s a fan favourite at Signal Iduna Park. The Pole also formed a deadly combination with that fella with a really long name – more on him in a bit – down the Dortmund right during Klopp’s reign.
Achraf Hakimi: Sure, he’s barely been at the club for 15 months but in that time he’s transformed into one of Europe’s most electric and versatile full backs – with his skill set mutating BVB into transitional machine under the typically conservative Lucien Favre.
Matthias Sammer: Superb sweeper. One of three defenders in history to win the Ballon d’Or. Next.
Mats Hummels: We can’t overlook just how good Hummels was because he enjoyed a stint at their Klassiker rivals, the German was one of the finest centre-halves in Europe during his first spell in Dortmund and has continued to perform at a high-enough level since his return.
Jürgen Kohler: Revered as one of the greatest defenders of his time, Kohler – alongside Sammer – were the cornerstones of Dortmund’s success under Ottmar Hitzfield in the ’90s. While an intelligent and technically proficient centre-back, his aerial prowess ensured he was a demon at both ends of the pitch as well.
Christian Wörns: Wörns became a fixture at the heart of the Dortmund defence following the retirements of Sammer and Kohler in 1998 and 2002 respectively. And while he was the scapegoat for Germany’s exit at the 1998 World Cup in France, there’s little doubting he cemented himself as one of the finest German defenders of his generation after a stellar decade with BVB.
Marcel Schmelzer: Providing bundles of energy down the left flank during Klopp’s reign was Schmelzer, who would play every minute during the club’s maiden title success under the German’s tutelage. He would continue to be a fixture down the Dortmund left for much of the 2010s before the signing of Raphael Guerreiro from Lorient in 2016 saw his minutes eventually dwindle.
Dede: The dynamic wingback proved key in Dortmund’s 2002 title victory as he struck up a deadly partnership with fellow Brazilian Evanilson on the opposite flank. His importance to the side was obvious for much of the 2000s before a combination of injuries and the emergence of Schmelzer saw Dede usurped as the starting left back midway through Klopp’s reign. A cult hero nonetheless.
Michael Zorc: BVB’s record appearance maker with 571, Zorc was part of two Bundesliga-winning squads during his one-club 17-year senior career which came to a close in 1998. Known for his goalscoring prowess from a box-to-box midfield role, Zorc was also a key spoke in Hitzfield’s wheel as Die Borussen conquered Europe in 1997.
Lars Ricken: Ricken was much more than the fella who caught Angelo Peruzzi a little too far off his line in that ’97 final victory over Juventus, but that moment alone probably warrants a place in this squad anyway. Nevertheless, he’d gone on to represent BVB on 407 occasions despite constantly being blighted by injury.
Sebastian Kehl: A club stalwart for 13 years and skipper for six of em, Kehl secured three league titles during his time at Dortmund and would often be deployed in the functional defensive midfield role alongside a more maverick talent in a double pivot.
İlkay Gündoğan: Axel Witsel and Nuri Sahin’s 2010/11 campaign were both contenders for this final midfield spot but it’s Gündoğan who gets the nod. The elegant German excelled in their 2011/12 double-winning campaign and scored in their Champions League final defeat to Bayern Munich.
Jakub Błaszczykowski: ‘Kuba’ – for everyone’s sake – spent nine years at Signal Iduna Park before departing for Wolfsburg in 2016. The Pole’s speed and willingness to run in behind meant he was a key cog in Klopp’s machine at BVB.
Stefan Reuter: Reuter defined versatility during his 12-year spell at Dortmund, but was predominantly deployed as a right midfielder despite spells at both centre back and defensive midfield. The lightning-quick German would make 421 appearances in what was mightily successful period for the club in the ’90s and early 2000s.
Marco Reus: Athletic, technically supreme, versatile and blessed with a high footballing IQ; only injuries could’ve prevented Reus from becoming one of the world’s very best…which they did. Nevertheless, his loyalty will always be valued by the BVB faithful and he continues to be incredibly productive when available.
Shinji Kagawa: Klopp’s chief creator during those title successes, the Japanese international returned to the Ruhr after a tricky spell at Manchester United before departing once more in 2019, this time to the lowly Real Zaragoza. Kagawa’s ability to find pockets of space meant he was almost unstoppable during his creative pomp.
Andreas Möller: One of of his generation’s finest creative minds, Möller enjoyed a trophy-laden six-year spell at Dortmund between 1994 and 2000, during which they conquered Germany on two occasions and Europe in ’97. Möller’s ‘crybaby’ spat with Bayern‘s Lothar Matthaus, meanwhile, was a moment which only enhanced his reputation among Die Borussen faithful.
Kevin Grosskreutz: The epitome of a utility man, Grosskreutz played a key role in Dortmund’s back-to-back title victories as a workhorse down the left flank.
Jadon Sancho: Who would’ve foreshadowed Sancho’s meteoric rise, eh? Following his £7m arrival from Manchester City in 2017, the 20-year-old has simply set the Bundesliga alight and he was set for a nine digit transfer away from Dortmund this summer before COVID-19 completely altered the transfer market.
Robert Lewandowski: The Pole established himself as a regular in Klopp’s gegenpressers in the 2011/12 campaign as his ability to combine with others added a different dynamic to BVB’s attacking play. He’d go on to score 66 league goals in his final three years at the club as he helped his side to another Bundesliga title and the Champions League final in 2013 – his quadruple against Real Madrid in that European run will live long in the memory of Die Borussen faithful.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: While his ability to ghost in behind opposing defences and score at a frightening rate failed to fire BVB to the Bundesliga title, his impact at the Westfalenstadion was nonetheless remarkable. Auba’s 141 goal haul in just 213 appearances ranks him fifth all-time among Dortmund’s leading scorers.
Lucas Barrios: Before Lewandowski there was Lucas Barrios, who often led Jurgen Klopp’s line in their 2010/11 league-winning campaign. The Argentine scored 16 goals in the Bundesliga that season but it was his work off the ball which made him such a valued asset.