Players who reunited with Borussia Dortmund after previously leaving

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In most countries October 3rd is just another day and you’re either still happy that the Bundesliga is back from the international break or a little bit less happy that it’s Monday. As a Bundesliga or Borussia Dortmund fan, you might already know this, but in Germany the 3rd of October is a national holiday.

Officially known as German Unity Day (‘Tag der Deutschen Einheit’) commemorating the reunification of Germany. In one of his most famous quotes former German Chancellor said that “Now what belongs together will grow together”.

So today feels like a good day to look at some players that reunited with Borussia Dortmund after leaving the club and see if those players and the club really belonged together.

Mario Götze playing for Dortmund before leaving to join Philipp Lahm at Bayern (Photo by sampics/Sampics/Corbis via Getty Images)

Mario Götze

First joined the club in 2001
Left for Bayern Munich in 2013
Returned to the club in 2016

Did you know that Mario Götze lived in Houston, Texas for over 18 months? He did so while his father was a researcher at Rice University. His Texas adventure ended before he turned five when his family returned to Memmingen, a city close enough to Munich that European low-cost carrier Ryanair would market the local airport as Memmingen-Munich (It is actually a 90-minute drive to the Bavarian capital).

Nonetheless this marks the beginning of Mario Götze’s rollercoaster ride between Germany’s biggest football powerhouses. The Götze family would soon leave Mario’s birth town again to set up shop in Dortmund and in 2001 at the tender age nine he joined Borussia Dortmund for the first time.

From that point on, he played for every Borussia Dortmund youth team and won the prestigious Fritz Walter Medal in the process. Nobody at the club was surprised when in November 2009, a certain Jürgen Klopp made him the (then) fourth youngest BVB player ever (only behind Sahin, Tanko and Kruska). In the following years he won two Bundesliga titles and a German Cup at the Westfalenstadion.

He was on his way to becoming a BVB legend as part of one of the most exciting young sides in Bundesliga history. Of course, all this changed on April 23rd when it was announced that he had signed with Bayern Munich. Making the betrayal even worse: this was made public just before the all-important Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid. The team won that tie, but most  fans and even officials felt betrayed.

In Munich he failed to make much of an impression, but was able to engrave his name into football history by scoring the goal that won Germany the FIFA World Cup in 2014.

The reunification

“What do I care about my chitchat from yesterday?” this famous quote from Konrad Adenauer, another German Chancellor, had to be applied by many BVB fans when Mario Götze returned in 2016, after calling him all sorts of names during his time at Bayern.

Götze was the headliner of a high-profile transfer summer. Flanked by Ousmane Dembélé, André Schürrle, Sebastian Rode (also joining from Bayern) and Raphaël Guerreiro, he was welcomed back at the Brackel training ground and supposed to be part of a team that would challenge his former club for the German title.

The Tuchel side however was never really a threat to its Southern adversary and much like the team, Götze also fell short of expectations. In his first season back, he only appeared in 16 matches and scored just twice. In the four years following his return, he only played 75 games and scored 13 goals.

By 2020 it was clear that player and club did not have a future together and Götze left for PSV Eindhoven on a free transfer. Spending 22 million euros for Götze as well as making him one of the highest paid players on the team was definitely not worth it. You can’t deny his talent, but injuries, fitness issues (due to illness) and a hefty price tag make him one of the worst post-Niebaum era transfers.

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