Axel Witsel has said he is delighted that he chose to join Borussia Dortmund – and is determined to justify his choice further by winning silverware with the Bundesliga leaders.
Witsel has already won trophies in Belgium, Portugal and Russia during his career, and he plans to do likewise in Germany following what has already proved a successful switch from Chinese club Tianjin last summer.
“Everything’s gone well for me,” he told German daily Bild. “I’m playing for one of the biggest and greatest clubs in Europe.
“The team, the environment, the fans… everything here is just brilliant and emotionally charged. I’m very thankful and really happy that I’m now part of this outstanding team.
Watch: See how Axel Witsel makes Lucien Favre’s Dortmund tick
“I have a lot plans here, and I obviously want to try to win a title or two in the medium term with BVB. That’s why I play football.”
With his team still in the hunt in the Bundesliga, the DFB Cup and the UEFA Champions League this season, Witsel has every chance of adding to his medal collection. Having arrived in Germany shortly after helping Belgium finish third at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, he settled into life in Dortmund quickly.
His family did too, and the Standard Liege academy graduate has praised the locals’ mentality and for giving him such a warm welcome.
“They’re open, honest and direct,” Witsel said. “And I love the fact that the people here are so crazy about football. The whole region is mad about this club.”
Dormtund fans have been on a roller coaster ride so far this term, with their side playing some fantastic football under Lucien Favre and having a realistic chance of ending Bayern’s six-year dominance in the Bundesliga.
Witsel insists that he is no more interested in Bayern’s results than he is other teams in the league, though he did admit that most of his teammates watched the record champions grind out a 3-1 victory over Hoffenheim the night before Dortmund beat RB Leipzig.
The ex-Benfica and Zenit St. Petersburg player is content that Dortmund’s fate is in their own hands, with the goal in Leipzig proving the Belgian’s latest key contribution after also finding the net against the same opposition on Matchday 1.
Witsel also scored an injury-time equaliser on his Dortmund debut against Greuther Fürth in the DFB Cup, as well as netting the opener in their 4-0 win over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.
He admits, though, that his most recent strike was hugely important in the context of the title race. It means Dortmund go into Saturday’s home game against second bottom Hannover full of confidence, although conscious that they were held to a scoreless draw by same team earlier in the campaign.
“We knew how hard it would be to win in Leipzig,” he said. “They were unbeaten at home until we played them, and had the best defensive record in the league.
“In contrast, we were missing a lot of centre backs, and even Marco Reus at the last minute. The way we won will give us even more self-confidence.
“Although they were three big points, we can’t let up even slightly. Hannover will be hard enough. They’re fighting for survival, and in the first game against them we only managed a draw.”