Danke, Marco: Dortmund legend dreams of bowing out on a high

In the twilight of a storied journey, beneath the roaring chorus of a provisional Yellow Wall, Marco Reus prepares to write the final line – the most important line – of his love story, as he parts way with his true ‘Echte Liebe’. His journey, a symphony of hope and heroism, etched into the very soul of Dortmund, reaches its crescendo on the hallowed turf of Wembley this Saturday.

With the world at his feet, and his blonde hair modestly swept to one side, Marco Reus joined the youth ranks of Borussia Dortmund in 1996, where he settled for ten years, until 2006. The 34 year-old has known life without yellow and black, however, as the pair’s love story experienced turbulence, in a “very painful” breakup for the player, as the midfielder’s physique was questioned as a 15-year-old.

Following this, the German experienced both the second and third tier of football in his home nation during three campaigns at Rot Weiss, and challenged in the bottom half of the Bundesliga table at Borussia Mönchengladbach for an additional three seasons.

Following time apart, the inevitable of reuniting came just four days after the jubilation of the beginning of the new year in 2012. Reus agreed to put pen to paper on a lucrative deal, which saw an idyllic return to die Schwarzgelben for €17.1m.

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Since reuniting with the club in that summer, Dortmund and Reus have been happily skipping through the lush prospering fields of loyalty, and they haven’t looked back since. The versatile attacker has grown as a person and a player during his 12-year tenure, and his excellent vision and ball-striking has resulted in a remarkably respectable 163 goals and 101 assists in 416 appearances whilst wearing the famous yellow and black.

It hasn’t always been auspicious however – the club and the player are indistinguishable in many aspects, but the ability for a giant to hide in the shadows for so long is a feat which will be regretted by both upon reflection.

Reus’ atrocious, yet extremely harsh, injury record saw the player notably miss out on Germany’s 2014 World Cup winning campaign, as well as many crucial club matches, which gave the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Mario Götze the opportunity to stand on the pedestal, and be hailed as heroes, while Reus merely grudgingly watched on in both physical and mental agony.

The pairs’ day in the darkest of shadows was on the infamous 25 May 2013. In the first season of his homecoming, Reus played a pivotal role as Dortmund reached the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League final. However, the club surrendering the trophy wasn’t the worst part of that evening, as they didn’t just lose… they lost to their noisy German neighbours Bayern München in the 89th minute, after multiple lucky bounces in the box – and on the very same turf they’ll face Real Madrid on this weekend.

However, every time Reus put on a Dortmund shirt, he showed football fans that tangible rewards, while they serve as an object to be boasted on the fireplace, do not grant rooted fulfilment. Die Schwarzgelben saw a local representation of their illusive selves, and were given countless memories and excuses to experience immense euphoria across his years at the club – and that not only can’t be replicated, but is worth so much more than a mere evidence of achievements.

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Put simply, Reus’ class can be proved by his endeavours on the pitch having an influence on those who loved him most in the greater perspective of life. The illustrative captain is an embodiment of the highest order of a quote from the 1986 drama, ‘Ferris Beuller’s Day Off’:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while… you could miss it.”

The Meisterschale proved elusive, even for the great veteran, and Bayern’s consistently firm grip was never slackened by the west German club. But on Saturday night, the leader of one of Europe’s elite sides will hoist the coveted emblem under the night sky, and the arches may just bathe the stars, both above and below, in a warm, golden yellow glow.

A much maturer version of the eight year old, who eagerly sat in front of his television as he watched his beloved side lift club football’s greatest offer, could make millions of dreams come true this weekend, in the very same breath as he makes his.

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