As emotionally-stunted, socially-distanced individuals, none of us have the capacity for love. We mistake familiarity for love, and we crave it like a confined prisoner craves the sight of their captor. In our malfunctioning state, the closest we can truly get to ever really loving something is the feelings we develop for someone we’ll never actually know. Our affections for the men employed by our favorite sports teams are honest, well-meaning, and impassioned. We form a bond with them that is built on trust, and on a give-and-take that we could never really achieve with our friends or family. We support them in their every endeavor, and they go out there and give us everything they’ve got, in an attempt to make us happy. Until they stop. Until they leave us for another football club. Until they shatter the illusion, and prove that love is a coping mechanism developed in response to the trauma of our own existence. Because what seemed so real before, was really the nothing but unrequited obsession. Because we’ll never truly know them. And we’ll never know true love. Anyway, these are our favorite players.
Current, Team: Danny Ings
He’s one of us (Southampton fan, and born-and-bred near to the city), and he scored two against the Skates and celebrated in front of them. It’s gonna be hard for anyone to match that, for me. If I was picking a BVB player, it would be either Reus or Zagadou.
All-Time, Team: Matt Le Tissier
He’d make any self-respecting list of the 10 greatest Premier League players ever (and wouldn’t be far off any list of the greatest footballers in English football history), is one of only five midfielders to have scored more than 100 goals in Premier League history (the others being Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Ryan Giggs, and Paul Scholes... his goals per game ratio is better than all of them), and he was even Xavi’s childhood hero. And this man played for Southampton. He dedicated his playing days to scoring Goal of the Season contenders for fun and saving my terrible club from relegation every season for about a decade.
Le Tiss played 443 league games for Saints, scoring 161 goals, and though assist records from his early days are a little patchy, extrapolating from what is available suggests he likely had around 150 assists too. In the 1993/94 season, he scored 25 goals and claimed 9 assists in 38 games, and in 1994/95 he managed 19 goals and 15 assists in 41 games. All this despite playing for a truly terrible football team. In that 93/94 season, Saints avoided relegation by one point, despite Le Tissier’s production. This was because they managed only 49 goals (and shipped 66). Le Tissier contributed to about 70% of the team’s goals (and he probably had the second assist on the other 30%). His legend is so deeply woven into the club’s fabric that in 2001, in the dying days of his career (and with about 20lbs added to his already sizeable frame), he came off the bench to score the last ever goal at our home, The Dell, with a last minute screamer to win 3-2 against Arsenal.
There will never be another like him.
Current, Non-Team: Raheem Sterling
Anybody that pisses the Daily Mail off that much is a friend of mine (also, shout out to Paul Pogba, who lives rent-free in Graeme Souness’s racist head). Plus he runs like a T-Rex
All-Time, Non-Team: Zinedine Zidane
I love those big boys that move like the principal in a performance of the nutcracker, and no one did it better than Zizou. He was temperamental, his hairline was all kinds of horrible, and he wore a frown like a cross around his neck, but he’s the most beautiful being I’ve ever seen. The man was a magician.
Current, Team: Lukasz Piszczek
A few seasons ago I wrote this article about how Lukasz Piszczek was one of the key reasons behind Borussia Dortmund’s success. Somewhat surprisingly, given his age, everything I wrote about Piszczek’s contributions then would also apply today. He has aged like fine wine. He obviously doesn’t have the pace that he once did, but it almost doesn’t seem to matter because his positioning is so good. He has a truly commanding veteran presence that I believe has greatly benefited our otherwise young back line, something that was especially clear last season, when Piszczek was the only defender over the age of 23. He still impresses to this day. The way he contained Neymar for 90 minutes at home against PSG made me feel like I was back in 2011. Piszczek was one of the first modern full backs, and he has shown night after night that he’s still one of the best.
All-Time, Team: Neven Subotic
An all-around club legend, Neven Subotic embodied everything that was great about the Klopp years at BVB. He anchored BVB’s back line during the title-winning seasons of 2010-11 and 2011-12. Subotic telling Arjen Robben to eat shit right to his face after the “Flying Dutchman” had a penalty saved by Roman Weidenfeller was probably the high watermark of Borussia Dortmund’s rivalry against Bayern. His goal-line clearance during the Champions League final would probably be considered one of the greatest defensive plays of all time if BVB had finished the job against Bayern. Unfortunately his career with BVB was really derailed by injuries, but it was nice to see him getting playing time with Union Berlin this season.
Current, Non-Team: David Alaba
WHAT? A BAYERN PLAYER?
Yup. I like David Alaba. There, I said it. He’s a classy guy, a world-class full back, and a monster free kick taker. Sue me.
All-Time, Non-Team: Harry Kane
The day is January 1st, 2015. My brother and I are sitting in the family room, getting ready to watch Tottenham Hotspur play Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea FC. At this point, we don’t know much about the Premier League, other than that this Jose Mourinho guy seems like a real jackass (funny how things turn out), and this Mauricio Pochettino guy seems pretty cool. To this point in the season, Mourinho’s Chelsea were an unbeatable juggernaut, who even the best offenses in the league couldn’t crack. They’d already taken a 1-0 lead, and it looked like Chelsea would cruise to victory, when a then relatively-unknown striker named Harry Kane cut inside behind Cesc Fabregas, used sheer strength to body Oscar off of him, spin, and rocket a low shot from like fifty yards out past Courtois to level the score. My brother and I jump in the air in celebration, not yet fully realizing that our Tottenham Hotspur fandom had begun.
In hindsight, from that moment on, Kane has always been my favorite. He was the first player who I was excited to watch week-in and week-out. Tottenham have been through some wondrous times since then, and more recently have begun to stumble. Kane’s suffered injury after injury, and his career could be irreparably damaged as a result, but he’ll always be the first player who made me love the beautiful game.
Brett R. Bobysud
Current, Team: Achraf Hakimi
I think I might’ve been one of the first Dortmund fans to get on the Hakimi train right after the loan agreement was announced and I’ve not gotten off it since.
I’d seen him play briefly at Real the year before and knew that his potential was great, but he’s exceeded my expectations in his time with BVB. He arguably single handedly dragged the team to the knockout stage of the UCL this season (with some help from Inter not being able to beat Barca’s B team at home) and every time he touches the ball it’s exciting.
All-Time, Team: Shinji Kagawa
He’s the reason I became a Dortmund fan. I wrote about it in more detail here.
Current, Non-Team: Sadio Mane
To follow his career trajectory from when he first joined Southampton to where he is now has been a joy.
IMO he, along with their two magnificent full-backs, is the biggest reason why Klopp’s Liverpool made the massive leap to become the best club in the world at the moment.
All-Time, Non-Team: Andres Iniesta
I didn’t get into football until the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and Iniesta scored the winning goal in the final, so he’s forever linked with my football affections.
It has been interesting watching him ply his trade in Japan now and his presence there has been a real boon for the J League the last few seasons.
Call me a normie or a USMNT-fanboy with these picks, IDGAF. I always enjoy seeing these guys step on the field and do what the do best while being paid more in one week than I’ll probably make in my lifetime.
Current, Team: Jadon Sancho
Sancho is simply sensational on the ball and he’s a threat to either score or dish out an assist every chance he gets in front of goal.
All-Time, Team: Christian Pulisic
Pulisic is the reason I got into becoming a fan of Dortmund after following just because he’s American.
Current, Non-Team: Tyler Adams
Yeah, Adams may play for Leipzig, but he’s so skilled on and off the ball, knows where he needs to be at the right time, and has the mentality of being a future captain for the USMNT.
All-Time, Non-Team: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan is pure entertainment every time he steps on the pitch, whether you love him or hate him.
Current, Team: Axel Witsel
No matter the sport I've always liked a good glue guy. For BVB this season Witsel has been the one holding everything together. His passing and field vision are just as good if not better the Weigl under Tuchel making him one of the finest controlling midfielders we’ve ever had. This season would have went even poorer if he was not on the pitch in just about every game. Also his personalty is radiant and I always enjoy seeing what he has to say or post on social.
The hair is just a bonus :)
All-Time, Team: Marco Reus
Now I know this is cheating but I don’t care. While Witsel is still a newcomer to BVB, Reus has been here since 2012. Reus will always be the player I think of first when it comes to BVB. It used to be Hummels but we know how that went (although I do rather like Hummles at the moment). Despite injuries and plenty of interest from other clubs Reus has always been a pillar on this team. Despite only winning one trophy with the squad I equate him with our success, both past and future.
This is a hard question because I have loved so many of the players on BVB over the years. So I will give honorable mentions to Kuba, Gotze, Kagawa and Weigl.
Current, Non-Team: Hueng-Min Son
Haven’t put too much thought in to this one. Son scores some great goals, has a lot of passion for his team and he is hot. Not much more to it then that.
All-Time, Non-Team: Zlatan
He’s not only a walking meme but he is fantastic at football. He treats football like a stage and himself the star. Sports are supposed to be entertainment and Zlatan understands that. His time in LA was equally hilarious as he dominated the MLS in his old age. His years in Serie A were his most fun but anywhere he went he impressed.
Who are your favorite players over the years? Which players do you associate most with BVB? Who is your favorite right now? Let us know!