Echte Liebe. True Love. The motto of one of Germany’s most successful football clubs – Borussia Dortmund.
Founded in 1909 (hence the 09 in their club logo), Dortmund have won eight German championships, three German Cups, four German Supercups, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, and one Intercontinental Cup.
It is a dazzling list of trophies, but things have not been all smooth for Dortmund in its 104-year history. Even as recent as the early 2000s, Dortmund were plagued by financial troubles. Facing bankruptcy, Dortmund became the first, and so far only, publicly traded club to be listed on the German stock market, but they still managed to win their third Bundesliga title on the final day of the 01/02 season.
However, things took a sharp turn south from then onwards, and club mismanagement saw Borussia Dortmund buried under debt. They were forced to sell their Westfalenstadion ground – part of the reason the stadium is called the Signal Iduna Park today is the sponsorship deal they signed to stem their flood of financial troubles. They were even forced to borrow €2 million from their Bavarian rivals – Bayern Munich – to pay their players’ wages in 2003.
The mid 2000s saw top players such as Tomas Rosicky and David Odonker leave the club, and Dortmund found itself teetering perilously on the edges of relegation.
At the end of the 07/08 campaign, a new manager was brought in to turn around the club’s fortunes. It was a risky manoeuver considering that this was to be Jurgen Klopp’s first stint outside of Mainz in his football career. He spent twelve years there as a player, before going on to serve as the manager for seven more years.
It proved to be a gamble that paid off. Having put together a squad that cost about €20 million in its entirety, Klopp paved the way for success again. Finishing sixth and fifth in his first two seasons, Klopp went on to win back-to-back titles in the 10/11 and 11/12 campaigns, completing a club-first double with a cup win in the latter. His dedication to fast, free-flowing football gave the Dortmund faithful something to cheer about for the first time in a decade. And with an 80, 645-capacity stadium, the biggest in Germany and sixth in Europe, the fans could really be heard.
But with success came fame, and it wasn’t long before the European giants came calling. Nuri Sahin was lured away by Real Madrid at the close of the 10/11 season after winning the title and the Player of the Year award. However, Dortmund remained unaffected and went on to win the league again, having brought in Ilkay Gundogan to replace Sahin. The next season, it was Shinji Kagawa who jumped ship for Manchester United, but Dortmund reacted again and brought in Marco Reus, who has had a fantastic season this year.
The club is sure to be on the lips of many people around the world after last night’s heroics. After surviving a late 2-goal-surge from Real Madrid, Dortmund held on to progress through to the Champions League Final on aggregate (4-3).
Dortmund’s steady return to the top ranks of European football has been a joy to watch and it is great that they are getting the recognition that they deserve.
However to continue their success and battle for the top, Die Schwarzgelben will need to do everything to keep its spine of players together. Hummels, Subotic, Gundogan, Blaszcykowski, Lewandowski, Gotze, Reus. These are the players that have led Dortmund to success over the last couple of years, and every single one of them has been linked with a transfer away. Gotze’s transfer to Bayern Munich at the end of the season has been confirmed and it will be a difficult pill to swallow for the fans. With Lewandowski seemingly set on a move away too, Dortmund will have their work cut out for them come the summer.
But for now, the fans can relish the fact that Dortmund are through to the Champions League Final with a great chance of winning their second UEFA Champions League title at the Wembley. Allez Borussia Dortmund Allez!