The cult of Marco Reus: A marvellous talent robbed by injuries

By Robbie Chalmers

The German international signed a new contract keeping him at Borussia Dortmund until 2022. Though had his continuous injuries not blighted him over the years, he would be regarded as one of the very best and who knows where he could have gone.

Marco Reus’s football fate was always destined to tie him with Dortmund. He was born there after all. He started his career at local club Post SV Dortmund in 1994 and after two years he joined the youth ranks of Borussia Dortmund in 1996. After playing for Borussia Dortmund for a decade at various youth levels he left for the U-19 team of Rot Weiss Ahlen in the summer of 2006. It’s during his time there that he settled as an attacking midfielder after previously playing as a striker at Dortmund. In his second year there he broke into Ahlen’s first team, who were in the German third division at the time. He started twice and was featured in 14 matches, scoring two goals. One of his goals came on the last day of the season and propelled the team being promoted to the 2. Bundesliga. Reus had a decisive nature to his game even from an early age but yet, his particular talents of slender pacey, skilful play was not the skills demanded by German Football at the time.

In 2008 Reus watched, along with the rest of the world, the German National Team reach the European Championship final. This was seen as a shock by the nation themselves as it was a side full of ageing players headed by the talismanic captain Michael Ballack. The midfielder embodied the typical German player at that time; physical, pragmatic and mentally resilient with touches of technical quality to boot. Spain won 1-0 to begin the Tiki Taka era of diminutive, technical players who dominated possession. It was after this time Reus began to foray into top flight football. In 2008–09, as a 19-year-old, he had his definitive breakthrough as a professional football player, playing 27 games and scoring four goals. Reus was not the only player to emerge on the road to the 2010 World Cup. Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil were making their names in the Bundesliga with Bayern and Werder Bremen respectively. This new wave of versatile, technical pacey players who excelled in transitional play were a result of total reform to the German Youth system after the failure of the 2004 European Championships in Portugal.

The new German player was born on the stage of the 2010 World Cup as a refreshing and exciting young Manshaft side swatted England and Argentina aside to make it to the Semi-finals before Spain again stopped them in their tracks. Reus was not at the World Cup but he would help lead the new wave of German player. Reus has the ability to dribble at great speed but make it looks like he’s going for a brisk jog. His facileness is matched by his quick change of direction and dazzlingly quick feet. Capable of player on either wing or as a ten his ability to start attacks from deep and sprint into the box is unmatched at the highest level (save for Ronaldo). This was on show in 2012 in his most successful season when, scoring 18 and assisting 8, he helped Borussia Mönchengladbach secure a place in the UEFA Champions League.

And then the time came. To return home. To Jurgen Klopp’s young Dortmund side who upset the Bavarian establishment to clinch consecutive titles in 2011 and 2012. Former Dortmund creator Tomáš Rosický was Reus’s role model and he emulated his playing style to boot. With Dortmund, Reus won the 2013 DFL-Supercup and the German Cup in 2017. He was the Footballer of the Year in Germany in 2012 and was on the UEFA Team of the Year in 2013. In 2012, Franz Beckenbauer spoke about Reus, along with Mario Götze, saying, “As a classic duo there is nobody better than the prolific Reus and Götze.” In 2013, Reus was ranked as the fourth best footballer in Europe by Bloomberg.

Reus’s talents are not his only attribute but his performances in big games and his resilience. He was outstanding in the clubs run to the 2013 Champions League final. Two assists in a classic against Malaga in the quarters were followed up by a Real Madrid thrashing in the semi final first leg. He ran Xabi Alonso was run raged that night. Few players have Reus’s qualities and even fewer players are as good to watch in full flow. He has Rosicky’s close control and technique, the graceful slalom runs of Hazard or Neymar and the predatory finishing of Frank Lampard (one of the best midfield goal scorers). It is just a shame, not just for a fan like myself but also the neutral viewer, that this player could not grace a World Cup or European Championships due to injuries. Reus doesn’t get the credit he deserves not because he doesn’t play but also because who he plays for. Dortmund are now a semi elite club but don’t have the long standing history there storied European neighbours have. Playing for a club that sells its best talent means many observers will wait until he makes the next step before tapping him up amongst the world best players.

Reus has never had that chance and after signing a new deal until 2022 and he may never now. Links to Real Madrid and Man United three years ago would have been the time to move but as the player has said “Dortmund is my home”. The likes of Le Tissier, Shearer and Totti had talent to play elsewhere and stay. They are revered as legends at their clubs. In an age where players are judged too often by the trophies they have won, perhaps some time is needed to savour the players that make this sport such a joy to watch. The very best players make the game look easy, which is Reus’s fortay.

Marco Reus said last October, “I would give all my money just to be healthy and play football again.”. Football is hoping that he doesn’t have to so he can dazzle us with his talent for a good few years to come.

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