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09 Countdown #2: An Ode to the Unsung Heroes

These guys deserve more appreciation. Let’s give them some.

Borussia Dortmund v TSG Hoffenheim - Bundesliga Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Every year, it seems like the majority of Borussia Dortmund fans (myself included) talk about three things: the year’s young star (Sancho, Bellingham, and so on), our awful luck with injuries, and Felix Zwayer. So, in this penultimate 09 Countdown article, I thought it would be nice to appreciate three players who haven’t gotten the respect they deserve.

Mahmoud Dahoud

Moustache Mo signed for BVB from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2017, coming off of a stellar 2016/17 season for the Foals, playing in the #10 role for Gladbach as they went on to finish 4th in the Bundesliga. Unfortunately, he signed for Dortmund at a time when his position was already occupied by the likes of Kagawa and Reus, and he also had to deal with that crazy season in which we somehow hired Peter Stöger. This, obviously, did not make for an easy settling-in period for Mo, and inconsistent form ensued as he dropped further down the pecking order in attacking midfield. When Terzic was appointed interim head coach, it seemed as though his time in NRW was all but over, as the pair had had a falling-out earlier in the season. However, under Terzic, Dahoud evolved into an aggressive, tenacious DM with added flair and technical ability. His energy, passing ability, and intelligence even earned him his first caps for Germany. Under Rose, he kicked on, registering his best season yet. As we saw this past weekend, his ability to hit the target from range has improved tremendously (I hope), and he is disciplined and mobile enough to cover for the more free-ranging Bellingham. New signing Salih Özcan’s added defensive capabilities are a plus, but Dahoud is a more well-rounded player who is becoming central to the more unglamorous side of Dortmund’s play.

Julian Brandt

A player with versatility, intelligence, technical ability and two good feet? No, this is not Marco Reus. It’s Julian Brandt. Signed for a hefty fee from Leverkusen in 2019, Brandt has played under a whopping 3 managers in 3 seasons. This has demanded flexibility from him, and he has taken to the pitch as a winger, striker, attacking midfielder and #8. However, despite a frankly brilliant 2021/22 campaign, wherein he put up 17 g+a in 22 league starts (his career-best season tally) and averaged nearly 2 key passes a game despite largely being used rotationally, he always seems to be linked with a move away from the Westfalenstadion. BVB have done this speculation no good by going out and signing Adeyemi, a player who occupies a wing role. Brandt has clearly shown his willingness to muck in and get the job done, and he deserves greater faith in him from the management and fans.

Marius Wolf

Kevin Großkreutz Jr. grew up supporting Borussia Dortmund, and is now living out his dream playing for his boyhood club. Versatile, industrious and hard as nails, he has played himself right back into the management’s plans after a poor first season and subsequent lackluster loans. His grit and desire is as invaluable to the team, as is his ability to play anywhere on the pitch, and he loves the club enough to have accepted being a rotational player for the medium-to-long-term. Wolf’s hard-running and tough-tackling style isn’t always easy on the eye, but it gives everyone around him a little more room to be creative and he has begun to develop real flair over the last season (I noticed several back-heels, and perhaps even a stepover?). He is an invaluable asset to BVB.

Your Thoughts?

Do you think these players get their due respect? Do you think there are any players I have missed? Let me know in the comments!