Borussia Dortmund’s ex physio Thomas Zetzmann discusses the club’s injury issues

Borussia Dortmund's injury struggles have been well documented in recent years (Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)
Borussia Dortmund's injury struggles have been well documented in recent years (Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images) /

Borussia Dortmund’s ex physiotherapist Thomas Zetzmann has disclosed what he believes is the main catalyst behind the club’s injury woes across previous seasons.

Injury woes have become synonymous with Borussia Dortmund over the course of recent seasons, particularly due to the fact that the club has suffered through prolonged spells of having a long list of players sidelined. Crucial members of the starting 11 have oftentimes found themselves on this list, leading to sub par performances due to the drop in quality available on the pitch and on the bench.

For many years there has been ample speculation as to why these injuries continue to reoccur and in such a number. Former Dortmund physiotherapist Thomas Zetzmann has presented a theory as to why this may be the case:

"“I have a hypothesis that I have also expressed to the sports management: Hybrid turf is misplaced in the stadium. This is a mixture of artificial turf and normal turf. There are mainly two large places in the training center: One with hybrid turf, which was created at the behest of Thomas Tuchel because he wanted to train on the same ground on which the stadium is also played. And one with a normal lawn.”"

The issue with this, according to Zetzmann, has to do with the changes in turf experienced by the players in training. These inconsistencies during training exposes players to different levels of tension in their joints, which could be one of the culprits behind said injuries:

"“In my opinion, there was no consistent rhythm. To do this, the players must change their shoes in each case. In both places, you then have a completely different tension on certain structures in the joints, tendons or fascia. This can cause imbalances in the joints and muscle attachments.”"

Zetzmann, as a member of Dortmund’s medical staff, was linked with the recurrence of injuries, and when these accusations began to gain traction in the media, they had an adverse effect on Zetzmann as one would expect:

"“That was very hard for me…It also bordered on defamation of character. The club and I had previously discussed everything fairly and objectively. The injury problem went on for months and, of course, something always came up. Whether one has finally looked for a pawn, I leave that times to the side. But it’s grotesque to believe that out of six therapists and three doctors, one is solely responsible for the problem.”"

Marco Rose, who was still head coach at the time, made it very clear that these allegations were false, for which Zetzmann says he is forever thankful. It wouldn’t be long before Rose himself would share in some of the blame, with the now Red Bull Leipzig manager being accused of implementing a training regiment that resulted in the increased amount of injuries.

Of course, injuries have continued under Edin Terzić, albeit being curbed during the second half of the season. The start of the season saw many players sidelined which certainly played a role in Dortmund’s below average performances at times. While Zetzmann is no longer there to make any crucial decisions, he has suggested that a change of hierarchy is needed to streamline the process Dortmund has for dealing with injury-related matters:

"“One would do well to say goodbye to the previous flat hierarchy and hire a senior physiotherapist instead. It would make more sense for one to make the decisions…especially if you have six or seven therapists, you should use their individual quality correctly. I would have liked that, because that would probably not have caused many misunderstandings and loss of trust in the first place.”"

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Moving forward, Dortmund will have a lot of work to do to prepare for the upcoming Bundesliga season. They have an entire pre-season to look forward to, and perhaps internally, the issue of recurring injuries will once again be brought up and put on the path to resolution.