Edin Terzic has told bundesliga.com that his Borussia Dortmund team have learned from their 2022/23 Bundesliga title heartache and will be even better equipped to go the distance in the new season.
Dortmund fell agonisingly short of a first Bundesliga title since 2012 in a dramatic conclusion to the 2022/23 campaign. Two points clear of Bayern Munich heading into the final day, a 2-2 home draw with Mainz coupled with a last-gasp victory for the record champions in Cologne saw them miss out German football's top prize on goal difference.
It's taken some time to sink in, but Terzic believes the title heartache can be his team's biggest motivation when they kick off their tilt at the 2023/24 Meisterschale with a home game against Cologne on Saturday...
bundesliga.com: A lot happened last season. Did you have the opportunity to let it all sink in?
Edin Terzic: "Yes, a lot has definitely happened in the last 12 months. Predominantly positive things. There were, of course, a few challenging moments. But I believe, on the whole, we have made good progress. We have grown as a team, especially in the second half of the season, and we were naturally pleased with that kind of development. Unfortunately, it didn't have a happy ending, but still, when you look at the whole picture now, where we've come from, the issues we had to deal with last summer— and by that I don't mean just the illnesses of our players, but also the transfers we had to compensate for, and the fact that there was this overhaul— and for that, I must say, it might have even happened a bit faster than expected."
bundesliga.com: Did you feel like you needed a break after the final?
Terzic: "Yes, definitely. So, one more thing that came along this year was a few grey hairs, and it was extremely emotional. Especially towards the end, and I believe, after every season, it's necessary to take a bit of time to regenerate and also to reflect, and I think that's always important and necessary. This year was very special; due to the winter World Cup, there was already a significant interruption during the winter, and yet, when it becomes so dramatic and emotional towards the end, the desire to just set football aside for a while becomes quite strong."
Watch: Relive the final-day title drama
bundesliga.com: How long did it take for you to start looking forward to football again?
Terzic: "That took a little while, I must admit. It wasn't as if, at the end of the season when the last matchday had passed, everything was over; there were still a few important things to attend to. Firstly, there was the farewell to the guys who were leaving us, and after that, it quickly shifts to looking ahead when it comes to planning for the new season. Making crucial decisions, and we took care of those in the first few days and then still in Dortmund. It was then realised that it might be good to get out of Dortmund for a few days. And so, it took a few days and nights to process a few things. Nonetheless, especially when you're with family, during vacations at the latest, spending time with loved ones can help you switch off quite effectively and quickly."
bundesliga.com: Were you able to watch the images of the season's final match afterwards?
Terzic: "Yes, I still find it difficult to look at pictures of the game, especially the ones after the match, capturing how we all experienced it together and how we were there for each other; I'm frequently confronted with those images. There's even the odd picture of me. In front of the South Stand, where I might not have had the friendliest expression on my face. These images, well, they're now a part of us, part of our history, part of my history as a coach. We're not ashamed of them; they're just a part of it. It's part of our journey, which unfortunately now takes a bit longer to reach the ultimate success in the Bundesliga. But they're part of it, and they will help us to become better and to grow as well."
bundesliga.com: What do you hope from the team for the upcoming season?
Terzic: "We all wish for ultimate success and to breeze through the Bundesliga, the DFB Cup, and the Champions League with nothing but victories and achievements. But that's not reality, that's not how things really work. It's also about dealing with setbacks, as we've particularly shown during the past season, learning from them, and growing. We certainly aren't the first team something like this has happened to, and we won't be the last. However, we want to be the team that develops strength from such experiences, that finds motivation in them, so that we can truly enjoy that day even more some day. And that one day, it will taste even sweeter when we hopefully stand at the top but until then, there's still a long way to go. We've realised that over the course of a season, despite the rocky start – if you look at the entire trajectory of the season, it started quite bumpy, almost hitting rock bottom in November before the break – we've shown that even when things get tough, we can develop strength from them, stay positive, and steer things in the right direction. Now, it's about showing that after feeling that pain on the last match day, it's not just during rough times that we can come out of it positively and strengthened. It's particularly about doing so even when it hurts. What makes us confident is that we've realised we're not alone in this, that it meant something to so many people. That, in turn, has moved us and is now an extra motivation for us to do better."
bundesliga.com: Does the word 'responsibility' mean a lot to you?
Terzic: "Yes, because I get to work with people, and because we're on this journey as a group. And I simply want everyone to take responsibility for everything we do. The main responsibility lies in getting better every day. When everyone feels responsible for maximising their talent and potential, as a group, we improve every day. And when we, as a group, manage to make everyone feel responsible for scoring a goal and doing everything it takes for that, and also feel responsible for preventing the opponent from scoring, then we will be successful."
bundesliga.com: What makes the captain so essential to the team?
Terzic: "A captain is essentially the face of the team both on and off the field. When we step onto the pitch, when we leave the locker room, they represent the team. Firstly, we've seen what it means to be a captain with Marco Reus's decision, who did an excellent job over the past years but then decided he wanted to give someone else the opportunity to step into that role and take on even more responsibility. Now, Emre [Can] is our captain, and that means he will wear the armband. He's also simultaneously the leader of a group known as the team council, a group that has been involved in football for many years, experienced a lot, and comes from various backgrounds. Their role is to support us coaches in guiding or sometimes pushing the team in a certain direction. This group is growing all the time, and last year in the summer, we brought in a few more guys. I always like to call them our junior partners, whom we want to guide into taking on more responsibility and preparing them for the next steps. Nonetheless, I remain steadfast in my belief that each individual should take responsibility for everything. However, now we have Emre, a new face as the captain of our team on the field, leading. For me, this is extremely important, and I've conveyed to the guys that regardless of the topic or the direction I set, whether it's positive or negative, I expect our leadership players to be the first to step up. Emre has been crucial in this aspect over the past years. That's why it was a logical step for us that he starts the new season as the captain."
bundesliga.com: What makes Felix Nmecha such a good addition to the team?
Terzic: "Felix is an incredibly talented player who brings an impressive combination to the table, and that's a tremendous physical presence in his position, which will be a great asset for us. He has the height and heading ability, and when you look at our squad, especially in the attacking area, we don't have many players who are over 180 centimetres tall. This has caused us to think quite a bit when it comes to assigning set-piece responsibilities. In that aspect, Felix definitely brings a quality. And there's something that might be a bit overlooked but will certainly bring us a lot of joy – his technique. Despite his height and physical attributes, he possesses incredibly clean technical skills. He has the ability to quicken the game with expansive strides, expansive dribbling, or through excellent passing. Additionally, we believe he has the potential to increase our goal-scoring threat. He still needs to work on that aspect a bit, and we'll try to put him in positions where he can utilise his strengths, but we have high hopes for that. The great thing about him is that not everyone knows exactly how good he truly is and where his maximum potential lies. But we see incredible potential in him, and we know that he will quickly elevate our performance."
bundesliga.com: Have you emphasised signing different types of players, such as Marcel Sabitzer?
Terzic: "Yes, that's one way to look at it. For me, it's simply important that, if we're being honest, we are one of the top 15 to top 20 clubs in Europe, but still, it's extremely challenging for us in the transfer market. Maybe we're not among the top 20 when it comes to spending money. Therefore, it's crucial – and this is highly important – I just believe that over the past years, we've become quite similar in many aspects and positions. Many player profiles had similar strengths and weaknesses. Now, as we want to restructure things, we want to make sure we don't become too alike in various areas. Looking at the departures we've had in recent years and the newcomers we've brought in, you can see the direction we want to go. If you compare, for example, Felix with Marcel, they both play similar positions, yet they have completely different profiles based on their abilities. Both of them are experienced in the Bundesliga, but Marcel is someone who never needs to be told to be alert for the second ball or to engage in counter pressing. It's inherent in him: the drive, the hunger to quickly regain possession. Additionally, he poses a great goal threat both inside the opponent's penalty area and from distance with his excellent long-range shot. He delivers very good set-pieces, and he's the current captain of the Austria national team. He was previously at Leipzig, where he was also a captain for many years. Therefore, when you see the potential Felix brings to his position and then also consider what Marcel has demonstrated on this level in recent years, I believe we've strengthened ourselves very well."
Watch: Marcel Sabitzer - ready to rock with BVB!
bundesliga.com: Amidst all the responsibility, can you sometimes just enjoy being the coach of this big club?
Terzic: "Being associated with Borussia Dortmund means a lot to me, that's well-known. Being in this role is, of course, something extraordinary, something that probably few people from my close circle would have imagined a few years ago. Still, I'll stick with the word you mentioned earlier, 'responsibility', and that's what I feel. I'm responsible for achieving sporting success, for constantly improving as a group, for trying to guide each individual player to reach the next level. That's the responsibility I have. And that leaves little time, especially over the course of a season, to just step aside and say, 'Okay, I'm going to enjoy the fact that I'm here.' The tasks are simply too extensive and diverse for that. So, I try to channel all the energy together with my coaching staff to assist the players in achieving the utmost success."
bundesliga.com: Can the team grow from what they've experienced? And can you, personally, as the coach, grow from it too?
Terzic: "Yes, it's always difficult for me to answer questions in the subjunctive, especially when you haven't actually experienced it. I do believe, though, that with all the stories we've lived through, as you mentioned earlier, what we experienced in the past year might have been enough for three Bundesliga years. We all grow from that, as a group, as individual players, and of course, the coaches as well. We will learn a lot from it, and someday, we will probably look at the whole situation differently than we do now. But it's always about investing the maximum effort to eventually celebrate the greatest possible success."
Watch: Edin Terzic cheered by the Yellow Wall after title heartache
bundesliga.com: The Bundesliga is starting soon. Are you excited? After that, you'll be heading to Bochum. Is that special for you?
Terzic: Yes, it actually starts for us in [the DFB Cup], and we also want to be very successful in that. But of course, that first Bundesliga match at home against Cologne is extremely important for us. Starting the season successfully right away is crucial, and we are well aware of the challenge awaiting us in Bochum. They've given us trouble in recent years, especially when playing in their stadium. It's well-known. Still, we're excited that it's finally starting again. We're looking forward to beginning the Bundesliga season, to stepping onto the pitch at Signal Iduna Park in front of 81,365 spectators, and then playing the small derby in Bochum just a week later. We've set high goals for ourselves. While it may sound like we're starting again, we're not. We initiated something last year, especially in this year, 2023, and it's been going well. So, the motto isn't just that it's starting against Cologne, but it's continuing against Cologne. We want to continue refining the things that have made us strong in the past months. We want to remember certain things, rectify certain issues, and present an improved performance every week. That's the overarching goal, and it begins in the new season, in the home match against Cologne."
bundesliga.com: A player that many people aren't familiar with yet is Julien Duranville. What do you see in him?
Terzic: "Yes, it was quite similar for us as well when we saw him in training for the first time. We thought, 'Wow!' After his rehab, he hit a top speed of 36 kilometres per hour right from the cold start. Seeing his dribbling skills, his one-on-one abilities – you have to remind yourself that he was still 16 at that time, now 17. He brings an incredible potential, a great talent, and he's also a really open-minded young lad. He's very hardworking and eager to learn. However, we shouldn't forget that he's still a very young lad who has already experienced a couple of injuries in the past 12 months. So, we might need to be a bit patient there. He's improving every single day, and it's really good to have someone like him in the team, where you feel like he's already contributing so much, and there's still room for improvement. Nevertheless, there are areas we want to work on with him, but I'm confident that we'll derive a lot of joy from him in the upcoming season."
Watch: Julien Duranville was on target during BVB's summer US tour
bundesliga.com: The Bundesliga is turning 60. What are the memories that have stayed with you the most?
Terzic: "Yes, I'm also a child of the Bundesliga. I grew up with the Bundesliga, and for me personally, my first stadium visit for a Bundesliga match was when I was nine years old. I vividly remember collecting Panini stickers as well. I think I've mentioned this before, but it was on 23 November 1991, which happened to be my father's birthday. He took me to my first game, Dortmund against Duisburg, as a special treat. That was my personal story with the Bundesliga. So, I mean, I know it better than most, but there were legendary press conferences too, especially thinking about Giovanni Trapattoni. And then, I recall the 'Phantom Goal' incident. It must have been around '94 or '95, during a quirky time. And of course, when thinking about the classics, the flying goalkeepers come to mind – those moments when they narrowly missed getting hit by opponents' studs while diving. The tears-wiper move by Lothar Matthäus – there have been many stories and history, for sure. I simply hope that we'll be part of the next stories, but of course, with a happy ending."
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