In January 2002, a certain 21 year old defensive midfielder decided to join Borussia Dortmund.
His move was fairly controversial. He had already agreed to a pre-contract with Bayern Munich in the summer of 2001, but he felt dissatisfied with the way Bayern conducted the transfer, and decided to join BVB instead. Who knows how things would have played out if he'd joined Bayern at that time?
But 15 years later, we can all agree that he definitely made the right move. To the club, the players, and the fans Sebastian Kehl is a legend and a hero!
Basti's first season with the Black and Yellows saw us win the Bundesliga. But the next few seasons were a slow and gradual decline, until the club was on the brink of bankruptcy in 2005. I don't know how Kehl might have felt about not moving to Bayern, and he definitely had many transfer opportunities at this point.
But he was one of the ones that stayed.
And we were able to pull ourselves out of that slump. It was as much Watzke's management and Jürgen Klopp's coaching, as Sebastian Kehl taking up the captain's armband.
With him wearing the armband, we won the Bundesliga in 2010-11, the domestic double in 2011-12, and were Champions League runners up in 2012-13.
Basti is a natural leader. He motivated and inspired his players. He wasn't afraid to get into fights when needed, but would prefer to de-escalate the situation on the pitch more often than not. Instead, he was often seen joking around with opponents. He is the perfect example of how a captain should act.
He's a tough tackler, with a knack for finding the perfect pass. Although his career was plagued with injuries, he was still a very important part of our midfield.
He has only scored 20 goals in the 13 years he's spent with us, but they were some amazing goals:
His goal against Hoffenheim in the 14/15 season was his last for the club. And damn. That's some legacy to leave behind.
In his own words:
He's the man who put up a mural of the Südtribüne in his son's playing area. It's evident how much he loves this club.
He wants to return soon, to become part of the staff. He's currently studying sports management for that. Hurry up Kehli! We'd love to have you back!
Every football fan has that one player, that one player who makes it so much more than just a sport, who makes a true fan out of you, who makes you fall in love.
I didn't grow up watching the Bundesliga. I was only a casual football fan when I was younger. What made me a fan was a trip to Germany, and the subsequent discovery of this exciting team. A team managed by Jürgen Klopp, and led by Sebastian Kehl.
So Sebastian Kehl will always be my captain, regardless of whoever wears the armband. He was captain when I fell in love with the club, and he embodies everything I love about the club.
Danke Kehli! Gut gemacht!