Nuri Şahin is back at Borussia Dortmund, where he first made a name for himself as a player. - © Jan Kuppert/SVEN SIMON
Nuri Şahin is back at Borussia Dortmund, where he first made a name for himself as a player. - © Jan Kuppert/SVEN SIMON
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Nuri Şahin: 5 things on the former Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Liverpool midfielder-turned-coach

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Nuri Şahin wowed the crowds at Borussia Dortmund with his stylish midfield play. Now the academy graduate and former Turkey playmaker is back at the club and hoping to use his experience to drive further success as a coach. bundesliga.com presents five things you should know about the BVB legend, who’s giving a hand to head coach Edin Terzic...

1) He met some heroes before becoming one

Şahin lived out the wildest dreams of most children who love football. He joined his local club, played for the first team, and even won the league with them. After achieving all of that at a very young age, he then moved to another team he had dreamed about.

The details make it seem even more like a fairytale. The gifted midfielder was born to Turkish parents in Lüdenscheid, some 40 kilometres outside of Dortmund. He first linked up with BVB as a 12-year-old in 2001, by which stage he had already been inspired by two famous Real Madrid players in particular: Fernando Redondo and Zinedine Zidane.

In February 2003 – at the age of 14 – a wide-eyed Şahin got to see one of those stars in the flesh. Serving as a ball boy for a Champions League group-stage fixture, he was captured on camera celebrating Jan Koller’s opener for Dortmund – and would have had a good view of Zidane setting up the equaliser as well.

Şahin was there for BVB's 2002/03 UEFA Champions League meeting with Real Madrid's Galácticos, starring Zinedine Zidane (r.). - Getty Images

“I remember the beautiful white kits that Madrid wore that night,” Şahin wrote in The Players’ Tribune in 2017. “They were stunning. And they played such amazing football too. Sometime in the second half I remember thinking, One day, I’m going to play for Dortmund. But, no matter what, I’m also going to play for Real Madrid.”

Şahin got to meet Real’s Brazilian star Ronaldo after the game but he didn’t stay starstruck for long. Two years later he would make his Dortmund debut, before starring in their title-winning campaign of 2010/11. Eight years after seeing some of his idols as a teenager, he left Dortmund as a local hero to sign for Real Madrid.

2) He was a Bundesliga record breaker

For many years Şahin held two major Bundesliga records. He became the league’s youngest ever player when he made his first appearance for Dortmund at the age of 16 years, 11 months and one day.

Having played the full 90 minutes in a 2-2 draw with Wolfsburg in August 2005, the teenager soon became the league’s youngest goalscorer too. He was aged 17 years and 82 days when he found the net in a win at Nuremberg in November of the same year – one of 23 league appearances he made in his breakthrough season.

In the 2023/24 campaign, Sahin returned to the club to work with the player who broke both of those records - Dortmund and Germany forward Youssoufa Moukoko.

Watch: The Nuri Sahin Story

3) He was key to Klopp’s first success

Şahin also played for Turkey at a young age, and scored on his international debut in October 2005 against… Germany. It soon became clear why the left-footed player was being given so many early chances so shine. After a year on loan at Dutch club Feyenoord which aided his development further, Şahin returned to make his name at Dortmund.

In 2010/11 he was part of a youthful squad coached by Jürgen Klopp that took the Bundesliga by storm. Future World Cup winner Mats Hummels was at the back, while future World Cup final hero Mario Götze enjoyed an incredible first full season in yellow and black. Shinji Kagawa was also highly influential, while a young striker by the name of Robert Lewandowski chipped in with eight goals.

Current sporting director Sebastian Kehl captained the club and Şahin’s future coaching colleague Sven Bender played alongside him in midfield.

Şahin was superb that year, weighing in with six goals and eight assists in 30 league appearances. He scored in home and away wins against defending champions Bayern Munich along with the way – one an inch-perfect free-kick in Dortmund, the other a gorgeous left-footed curler in Munich.

That year’s league title was both Dortmund’s first in nine years and Klopp’s first trophy as a coach.

4) And Klopp has influenced his outlook on coaching

In the wild celebrations that followed the confirmation that Dortmund would be crowned German champions, Klopp famously damaged his glasses after colliding with Şahin in the post-match bedlam.

Where's Nuri? Şahin won the 2010/11 Bundesliga title under Jürgen Klopp. - imago sportfotodienst

Though they parted ways that summer, Klopp promised Şahin he would have a friend for life. And when injuries meant the player’s move to Real Madrid didn’t go as planned, his old pal brought him back to Dortmund following a loan spell at Liverpool.

“There is no doubt about his coaching – he is very good,” Şahin told Goal in May 2021. “But what I love most about him is that he’s human. He touches you on a human level... This is what I loved about him and what I learned about him.

“If you want to be a good coach for a long, long time, you have to be a good person also, because the players feel it. You can’t lie, and Jürgen doesn’t lie. He is who he is, and this is one factor in why he has been so successful.”

5) He studied at Harvard

Klopp would eventually move on to Liverpool himself, after which Şahin won the DFB Cup with Dortmund in 2017. He finished with 26 goals in 274 games across his two spells with BVB before spending two years with Werder Bremen.

He left for Antalyaspor in August 2020 and ended his playing career to become the Turkish side’s manager in October 2021.

During his latter days as a player, Şahin’s thirst for knowledge saw him sign up to a prestigious American university in 2018. The 2013 UEFA Champions League runner-up has often spoken about his desire for further development, and he was admitted to a sports management course at the Harvard School of Business.

The student of both Klopp and Harvard, however, is now becoming a teacher himself at Dortmund.

Having directed things in midifeld when he was younger, he’s now hoping to pass on his knowledge so that his old club – and first love – can reach new heights.