In an era of fleeting loyalties, Marco Reus is an outlier. The German playmaker came to Borussia Dortmund in 2012, joining a club that he had grown up supporting but was rejected by when he was 16.
Saturday was the chance for the club to pay its loyal soldier back but sadly, after drawing 2-2 with Mainz in the last day of the league, the elusive Bundesliga crown still evades Reus. As Bayern Munich defeated Koln and added another silverware in a trophy cabinet overflowing with them, Dortmund will look back to this day in the future and think what could have been.
Since joining BVB from Borussia Monchengladbach 11 years ago, Reus has been a constant at the club even as many superstars — Robert Lewandowski, Erling Haaland, Mario Gotze and Mats Hummels — have come and gone. It’s not as though he didn’t have lucrative offers for his services from elsewhere. But somehow, for a club that has seemed almost nonchalant about letting go of their marquee names almost every year, Reus was always indispensable at the die Schwarzgelben.
„Und wir werden immer Borussen sein, es gibt nie nie nie einen anderen Verein…“ pic.twitter.com/1CQe0Me6a2
— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) May 27, 2023
In his stint at the club, he helped them reach the UEFA Champions League final in his very first season. He would eventually win two DFB Pokals with them as well as getting named Germany’s player of the year in 2012 and 2019.
“The whole club, the whole city would be so happy for Marco Reus if we could get our hands on the title this weekend,” Dortmund’s Sporting Director Sebastian Kehl had told international journalists in a round table earlier this week.
“I know what it would mean to him in his role as captain. Marco has written so many stories here and has done great things at this club for so many years. One thing that’s always been said about him is that he has never managed to win the title. I think that’s something that has always grinded away at him a bit,” added Kehl.
That dream was shattered once again in cruel fashion as the playmaker sat in the middle of the field with a stunned expression as reality dawned on him. Ultimately, it was too hard to bear as the tears started flowing down his face, as years of hurt and disappointment culminated in that single moment.
— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) May 27, 2023
It wasn’t just on the club level that misfortune had stalked him.
Over the last decade, Reus was one of those players who was perpetually within touching distance of glory. But, for one reason or another, he would keep falling just short of what his vast potential promised.
His is a career that is often regarded as the perfect example of what could have been. For, the German has had the worst of luck when it comes to representing the national side, picking up injuries just before major tournaments.
Before the 2014 World Cup — a competition which Germany ended up winning — he was ruled out due to an ankle injury. Fitness issues kept him out of Euro 2016 two years later. He managed to play the 2018 World Cup but Germany were eliminated from the group stage. He ruled himself out from the 2020 Euros.
Reus was all set to represent Germany in the recently-concluded 2022 World Cup. But again, fate had other plans. He was forced to sit this one out due to another ankle injury.
Slow, but steady
Saturday night was supposed to be the crowning moment for a player who has given his sweat, tears and blood for the club but destiny had other ideas. The 33-year-old has slowed down considerably this season as the ravages of age, coupled with injuries, finally caught up with him. The Dortmund captain hasn’t started a Bundesliga match since April 1 against Bayern, instead electing to come off the bench in each of the next seven league games.
A team man till the very end, he was content to do his part as the likes of Jude Bellingham, Sebastian Haller, Karim Adeyemi and Donyell Malen exploded forward to take the world by storm.
Even after this debilitating loss, some of these players might leave for pastures newer and greener. But Reus will still be around. Standing in front of the fabled yellow wall at Signal Iduna Park. Or doing whatever it takes to help the club. As he always has.