Reus begins Dortmund exit with Champions League finish in sight

His coach called him a “living legend”, the fans on Dortmund’s famous Yellow Wall terrace gave him everything they had and 18-year-old debutant Kjell-Arik Wätjen provided the pass from which Marco Reus scored his 169th Dortmund goal. The Saturday game saw BVB trounce Augsburg 5-1. As goodbyes go, this was about as good as they get.

But, despite the farewell feeling, the fact that Reus was one of 10 changes from Dortmund’s last match, a 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, showed that priorities of coach Edin Terzic lie beyond the Bundesliga. Reus has yet to bow out — the semifinal second leg of the Champions League will be played on Tuesday.

Reus is one of only two Dortmund players (the other being Mats Hummels, who left for Bayern Munich and returned) who started BVB’s last Champions League final, against Bayern at Wembley in 2013. He won the penalty converted by Ilkay Gündogan that bought Dortmund level in London before Arjen Robben’s last minute winner for Bayern.

Symbol of longevity 

That is testament to the longevity of a player who played for his hometown club as a boy and returned in 2012 from Borussia Mönchengladbach. His misfortune with injuries and trophy near misses, allied to his deadly finishing, sharp movement and creative brain have made him synonymous with his club.

“It’s very emotional. Marco is a living legend,” said Terzic. “Where else can you find that in modern soccer? A story where someone chooses a club for twelve years and spends almost his entire career there is extraordinary at this level.”

Reus, for his part, said the response of the crowd to his first match after announcing he would leave on Friday was “indescribable. To be called forward, to have the fans shout your name, I have no words for it,” he told Sky immediately after the match.

But the star athlete will not be able to bask in the crowd’s adoration for too long.

“I’m glad there’s now clarity and we can now focus fully on the final games, which are so important. We have a big goal ahead of us that we want to achieve together. We want to get to Wembley. We want to bring the Champions League trophy back to Dortmund,” he said.

Change of fortune at final turn?

Should Dortmund beat the odds and lift the trophy on June 1, it will be only the third trophy win for the 34-year-old Reus, coming after German Cup wins in 2017 and 2021. Dortmund have come close but missed out on the Bundesliga title a few times in his career, perhaps most painfully last year, when they blew it on the final day.

Misfortune has also followed Reus on the international stage. Despite making his Germany debut in 2011, he’s only managed to rack up 48 caps, missing the 2014 World Cup win through injury. He then missed out on Euro 2016, again due to injury, declared himself not fit enough for the postponed Euros in 2021 and was again ruled out of the last World Cup, in Qatar 2022.

The injuries and near misses do not detract from the player Reus has been for Dortmund, with sporting director Sebastian Kehl describing him as “one of the greatest players we have in BVB history.”

There will be few that doubt that. But even they might be forced to reassess if Reus can have an even more golden goodbye in London.

Edited by: Darko Janjevic