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THE PERSEVERANCE OF MARCO REUS

Going through the career of Marco Reus, one of the best German talents in the game today who has persevered throughout his career.

We are living in an era in which loyalty is all but dead in football. When you look at football players today, it seems that all they care about is their big egos and money. But Marco Reus is one of the very few exceptions to this and exemplifies the meaning of loyalty and true love to one’s football club.

Born in Dortmund, Reus grew up as a Borussia Dortmund fan and joined the club as a seven-year-old boy in 1996. He spent 10 years in his first stint with the club, but Die Schwarzgelben decided to let Reus depart for third division side Rot Weiss Ahlen at the age of 17, telling him that his slight physique would hinder his desire to become a professional.

But Reus did not give up and quickly became a regular starter at Ahlen. Less than three years later, he was signed by Bundesliga side Borussia Mönchengladbach for a fee of 1million. Reus made an immediate impact for the Foals, and his first goal in the Bundesliga came after a stunning 55-yard run against FSV Mainz 05 in August 2009. At that moment, it was clear that the next best talent in the Bundesliga had arrived on the big stage. And Reus never looked back from there.

He quickly became a regular starter on the right-wing and went on to score eight goals in his first season with Gladbach, helping them finish 12th in the league table. Reus’ performances saw him earn his first call-up to the German national team at the end of the season.

His second season was much more difficult in comparison, with Gladbach embroiled deep in the relegation battle. While Reus continued to perform consistently (scoring 10 goals and adding nine assists), the Foals finished third from bottom and had to face VFL Bochum in the relegation play-off to stay in the Bundesliga. And with the scores level at 1-1 on aggregate in the second leg, it was Reus who stepped up once again and made the decisive breakthrough, 18 minutes from time, to secure his side’s Bundesliga status.

The best was yet to come for Marco Reus as he continued to mesmerise the Bundesliga with his lightning-fast pace, his silky dribbling and his remarkable eye for goal as he lit up the Borussia Park in the following season. Lucien Favre used him as a false nine or number ten in a 4-4-2 formation, and it saw Reus’ game reach another level.

Reus Gladbach
IT WAS AT BORUSSIA MÖNCHENGLADBACH WHERE A YOUNG MARCO REUS MADE A MARK

He enjoyed a scintillating campaign under the now Borussia Dortmund head coach, bagging 18 goals and providing 13 assists in the Bundesliga alone, to help his side finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League for the first time since the 1970s.

Reus’ incredible season saw him get named Germany’s Footballer of the Year for 2012. He was also named in Germany’s squad for the 2012 European Championships, although he spent most of the tournament on the bench. His first start of the tournament came against Greece in the quarter-finals, and he scored to help Die Mannschaft qualify for the semi-finals, where they were beaten by Italy.

His impressive quality and potential saw Borussia Dortmund come calling once again, perhaps regretting their decision to let him go in the first place. Michael Zorc and co. paid his release clause of 18 euros and Marco Reus was a Borussen once again.

Reus told the Guardian in 2013, “It was very painful for me to leave. When you spend your whole youth career at one club, you want to make the next step – especially when you support that team.”

When Reus returned to Borussia Dortmund in 2012, the Black and Yellows were going through the most exciting period in the club’s recent history. Having won back-to-back Bundesliga titles, the Jürgen Klopp-led Borussia Dortmund had their eyes set on conquering Europe.

Signed to replace Shinji Kagawa, who had been sold to Manchester United, Reus made an immediate impact at the Westfalenstadion, forming an incredible partnership with Robert Lewandowski. The playmaker missed just three games in all competitions in his debut season at Dortmund, scoring 14 goals and providing 11 assists in the Bundesliga.

Reus also played a crucial role in Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League run, scoring in away games against Real Madrid, Manchester City and Ajax in the group stage, before being involved in all three goals to help his side pull off an incredible comeback and beat Malaga 3-2 in the second leg of their quarter-final.

He followed it up by getting two assists in the first leg of the semi-final against Real Madrid, as Borussia Dortmund pulled off an incredible upset to secure a spot in the final. While Reus and Borussia Dortmund experienced heartache in the final, losing to local rivals, Bayern Munich, it was a campaign to remember for both the club and the player.

Reus continued to get better and better, and while Borussia Dortmund once again failed to win any silverware in the following season, the mercurial winger continued to impress and finished the season with 23 goals and 18 assists in all competitions.

Unfortunately, Reus’ dream of representing Germany at the 2014 World Cup was shattered as he suffered an ankle injury in the build-up to the tournament. Germany went on to win the tournament and the players paid tribute to the injured Reus by holding his jersey while celebrating their triumph.

The winger missed a chunk of the first half of the season that followed with injuries, as Borussia Dortmund endured a woeful start to the campaign. His return in January provided a crucial boost to Jürgen Klopp’s side and helped them eventually finish seventh in the league table.

Reus continued to remain a vital part of the Borussia Dortmund team under Thomas Tuchel and then Peter Stöger, but injuries continued to haunt him up until the start of last season, as he lost crucial minutes on the pitch and failed to get in a consistent run of games in the first-team. 

Reus endured three long spells out in three years, as his wretched luck with injuries continued. In 2017, Reus said in an interview with GQ, “I would give away everything I have earned just to be healthy again and to do my job, to do what I love: playing fooball!”

Borussia Dortmund supported him through thick and thin, but his absence was telling both on and off the pitch. After missing the first half of the 2017/18 season, Reus returned to the team in February 2018 and still managed to find the net seven times in 11 appearances, helping a poor Borussia Dortmund side crawl their way to a finish in the top four.

He even made his bow an international tournament for Germany. After missing heart-achingly missing out on Germany’s successful World Cup campaign in 2014, where he was sure to play plenty of minutes, and then missing out on the Euros in France two years later, Reus was on the plane to go to Russia. In a disappointing run for his country, he did quite well, but Germany were shockingly knocked out in the group stages.

Back at club level, the arrival of Lucien Favre, who Reus once described as the “best coach I’ve ever had” saw him get appointed the club captain. No longer having to deal with injuries and playing in his new number ten role, Reus looked like a player rejuvenated. He ended the season with 17 goals and eight assists, as Borussia Dortmund finished just two points behind champions Bayern, in what was meant to be a transitional campaign.

Reus Germany
THE 2018 WORLD CUP WAS DISAPPOINTING FOR GERMANY, BUT MARCO REUS HAD A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT

Playing in his new position, Reus ran the show and conducted Borussia Dortmund’s attacking play last season. Reus made his side tick with his intelligent passing, his ability to find and create space and his lethal finishing. He stamped his authority on nearly every game he played, and his movement, distribution, vision and ability to run with the ball gave Borussia Dortmund’s attack a much-needed edge.

He formed a great partnership with the likes of Jadon Sancho, Raphaël Guerreiro, and Paco Alcácer, as the quartet nearly carried Borussia Dortmund to their first league title since 2012.

Reus recently revealed that he had offers from Barcelona, Manchester United and Liverpool, but chose to extend his contract with Borussia Dortmund, and that too when the club were dead last in the league table back in January 2015. And he reaffirmed his commitment to the Black and Yellows once again last year, once again amid uncertain times surrounding the club.

He could walk into any team in the world, earn a lot more acclaim, money and win more titles elsewhere. But he is at the Westfalenstadion, fighting for every ball and leading the club he loves by example week in, week out. He is Borussia Dortmund’s talisman, and without him, last season’s title charge would have been nothing but a pipe dream.

Reus is one of those players who can change a game in the blink of an eye, and no one can dispute his status as a world-class player. But now he is also a leader in the dressing room, and the standard for Borussia Dortmund’s rising stars to look up to and follow.

The 30-year-old may have lost a yard of pace but his in-game intelligence and anticipation more than make up for it. Reus is aging like a fine wine and he is showing no signs of stopping at the moment. He has faced adversity all his life, but his resilience and determination have seen him come out on top always.

Reus is one of those players who is loved by fans throughout the world but is often underrated. But his value to Borussia Dortmund and the club’s fans remains priceless, and it is quite likely that he will spend the entirety of the rest of his career at the Westfalenstadion.

Now injury-free and raring to go, Marco Reus is determined to lead Borussia Dortmund to the Bundesliga title this season, and for the first time in years, he has a squad around him that actually has the potential to achieve that. Borussia Dortmund are building something special at the Westfalenstadion, with the captain leading the charge. Reus has defied the odds many times to get to this position, so don’t be surprised if you see him celebrating with the Meisterschale in his hand, come May 2020.

BY TUSHAR BAHL