How will Erling Haaland will be remembered from his time with Borussia Dortmund

Unlike their opponents Hertha BSC, who were fighting for survival in the Bundesliga, yesterday was a typical carefree end-of-season-fixture for Borussia Dortmund: A nice pre-summer kickabout with nothing to play for, perfect weather conditions and their brand new kits on display.

For BVB, the game, a 2-1 win of the ordinary kind, was meaningless after a frustrating first campaign under manager Marco Rose that still resulted in a second place. This day was all about emotional farewells anyway.

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Some legends said goodbye: Michael Zorc, who spent 44 years at the club as both an iconic player and sports director, as well as Marcel Schmelzer, who is ending his career after 17 years as a loyal servant to the black and yellow. Both were honoured with gigantic banners, chants and shared many tears with the 80,500 supporters.

In contrast to his performances during the last two and a half seasons, Erling Haaland was bid farewell in a comparatively unspectacular fashion, just days after his move to Manchester City had been confirmed.

Even though not many players were able to put their stamp on club and league as fast and vigorously as Haaland did since joining from RB Salzburg in January 2020, his name wasn’t mentioned much during the pre-game chatter around the Signal Iduna Park. Zorc, Schmelzer as well as potential new arrivals were the dominant topics among the Dortmund faithful on this Saturday afternoon.

It seemed as if they had already digested Haaland’s departure. "It was just a matter of time from the beginning," one supporter in a Haaland shirt said in the beer garden just beside the stadium.

A sentence that was echoed many times by others around the ground.

After all, it was clear from the moment Haaland signed that Dortmund was going to be a springboard to the pinnacle of world football for him. In fact, hadn’t the club bent their own principals by agreeing to a (rather player-friendly) release clause — something they vowed to avoid after helplessly watching Mario Gotze join Bayern in 2013 — he would have never worn the BVB shirt, as CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke recently confirmed.

After Roman Burki, Marwin Hitz, Axel Witsel and Dan-Axel Zagadou, who are also leaving, the club thanked the 21-year-old for his contributions and wished him all the best moments before kick-off

While most of the local BVB fans would have preferred that Haaland listened to his compatriot’s advice, they will keep him in high regard.

"Despite the drama at the end it was a really cool time," Kevin, a 21-year-old supporter who attended the game with three friends said. "He always gave everything, was a fighter on the pitch even when things weren’t going that well for us and scored so many goals."

When asked about their favourite Haaland moments, their eyes collectively lit up and all the turmoil of the last months seemed forgotten. "I’d say his debut when he scored a hat-trick from the bench against Augsburg," Kevin answered. His friend, previously very reserved, suddenly interrupted him: "No, definitely the goal against PSG," a thunderous rocket to seal a 2-1 win in the first leg of their last-16 encounter.