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Borussia Dortmund legend Marco Reus's last shot at glory

The chance to play for your boyhood club is one thing; winning the league with them is the stuff of dreams.

Champions League Final

But despite spending more than a decade with Borussia Dortmund, it's a dream that sadly eluded Marco Reus. Ahead of the end of a disappointing domestic campaign, it was confirmed that Reus wouldn't have his contract renewed and he would leave at the end of the season. And though a Bundesliga trophy eluded Reus, he does have the chance to sign off with something better.

While so many of his team-mates opted to spend the peak of their career with rival clubs, hoovering up trophies, Reus stayed put, and while he won’t have the trophy cabinet of many of his old colleagues, he’ll forever have the adulation of the Dortmund fans.

Dortmund’s transfer policy is one of the shrewdest in Europe, but it’s come with the caveat that players quickly become too big for the club, with BVB in a constant state of equilibrium; getting both stronger and weaker at the same.

The stars of Dortmund teams never tend to last too long at the club, and it’s not all that long before one team looks unrecognisable from the next. But while there’s a perpetual state of flux at the Westfalenstadion, Reus has provided a singular line of continuity for more than a decade. While everyone around him left – and some returned – Reus was the constant.

A boyhood fan, Reus was given the opportunity to play for Dortmund in 2012 on the back of an outstanding campaign with Borussia Monchengladbach, and he’d make the Champions League final in his first season.

As they would throughout his time in North Rhine-Westphalia, Dortmund came second to Bayern Munich, who’d complete the Treble for the first time in their history.

That summer, the talismanic Mario Gotze would leave Dortmund for Bayern.

That was Bayern's model. They wouldn't take the Real Madrid approach of signing the world's biggest players, but they'd typically sign Germany's best, constantly keeping their rivals at arm's length.

Claudio Pizarro, Michael Ballack, Ze Roberto, Lucio, Miroslav Klose, Mario Gomez and Manuel Neuer were all snatched from Bundesliga teams before Bayern started frequently picking off Dortmund’s best players each year.

Gotze would win the title with Bayern – not to mention scoring the winner in the World Cup final at the end of the season – as Dortmund signed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

The following season, Robert Lewandowski swapped yellow and black for red and white – on a free transfer no less, with Dortmund having knocked back a fee to keep hold of their striker as his contract ran down. He, too, would go on to win the league – a mere eight times – and the Champions League in 2020.

There was no exodus to Bavaria the following summer, but the year after, captain Mats Hummels joined Bayern with Mkhitaryan and Ilkay Gundogan joining Manchester United and City. Hummels, like the rest, won the title in his first season, as well as the next two before a return to Dortmund.

But Dortmund’s relative barren spell was ended with the 2016/17 DFB Pokal win, beating Bayern in the semi-final, with Reus of all people scoring the opening goal.

A relatively underwhelming spell with the champions saw Gotze return to Dortmund, and his title-winning days were behind him.

Aubameyang got his move away in January 2018 to Arsenal, five months after Ousmane Dembele ended his 12-month stint in Germany, moving to Barcelona and pocketing the Germans a tidy £100m profit.

The summer of 2019 saw Dortmund’s latest star Christian Pulisic move to Chelsea. He, of course, would win the Champions League in his second season.

Jadon Sancho moved to Manchester United in 2021, though has yet to hit the heights he reached in Germany and has returned to Dortmund on loan, with Erling Haaland following Sancho to Manchester in 2022, where he’s won the Treble in his first season.

In Reus’s first 10 years at Dortmund, he’d see Bayern win the title 10 times. They’d also win the Champions League.

Gundogan won five titles and a Champions League with City. Pulisic won the Champions League with Chelsea. Even Mkhitaryan won European honours in the Europa League at Manchester United.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking Reus was simply left behind. As a six-time member of the Bundesliga Team of the Season (his five-year streak ended by injury-hit seasons in 2017 and 2018), and three-time winner of Bundesliga Player of the Season, he attracted plenty of interest from around Europe, including Bayern.

Speaking with German magazine Sport Bild, Reus commented on the longevity and loyalty to one club shown by him and Bayern’s Thomas Muller, saying: “I think it is also important for the fans that there are guys like Thomas and me. They notice that we identify with their club as much as they do it themselves.”

There was also reported interest from Real Madrid and a host of Premier League clubs, but Reus’s decision was to spend the bulk of his career in yellow and black, even at the cost of silverware.

Perhaps even more frustratingly for Reus is that Bayern have finally been dethroned, and it wasn’t Dortmund who did it. After throwing the title away on the final day of the 2022/23 season, Reus’s last chance was gone. Or so it seemed.

At his age, with his injury record, major honours looked unlikely to fall Reus’s way, but in reaching the Champions League final, he'll get one last shot at the biggest trophy of them all.

Even if he falls short at Wembley, Reus will forever have the unwavering adulation of the Dortmund fans. An adulation that will never be experienced by the likes of Lewandowski, Haaland or Hummels.

It can’t be displayed, polished or held, but that level of idolisation a player feels from one set of fans, the fans he’s spent his career playing in front of, is rarer – and perhaps more valuable – than any trophy, and it's something Reus will cherish for the rest of his life.

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