Mats Hummels has been in fantastic form throughout this campaign. - © IMAGO/Dennis Ewert/RHR-FOTO
Mats Hummels has been in fantastic form throughout this campaign. - © IMAGO/Dennis Ewert/RHR-FOTO

Mats Hummels: The Borussia Dortmund hero turning back the years


When Borussia Dortmund needed a hero, Mats Hummels stepped up, scoring at the Parc des Princes as Die Schwarzgelben beat Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 to progress to the UEFA Champions League final. The centre-back may be approaching the end of his career, but he is rolling back the years with his performances this campaign…

Hummels is arguably one of the best defenders Germany has ever produced, and has the CV to back it up. He was a key component of Jürgen Klopp’s Dortmund side that won back-to-back Bundesliga titles, and played all but one of Germany matches as they took home the 2014 World Cup, even being named on the 10-man shortlist for the tournament’s Golden Ball.

Following his move to Bayern Munich, where he started out as a six-year-old, he continued to mop up trophies, including a further three Meisterschale. However, by his third campaign at the Allianz Arena, his stock had waned as he made just 21 league appearances, and there were questions as to whether his best days were behind him, especially considering Bayern had allowed him to join a direct rival.

Over the past few seasons, though, Hummels has shown just how much he has had to offer. He has made at least 30 appearances in each of his five seasons following his return, while he helped The Black-Yellows win the DFB Cup in 2021, their first trophy in five years. He has entered the history books, too – only Michael Zorc (572) has made more appearances for the club than the 35-year-old, who wore the shirt for the 500th time in the Champions League quarter-final first leg against Atlético Madrid.

Watch: Hummels - the ever-reliable centre-back

He would have gone down as a club legend regardless of how this season panned out, but he has only further consolidated his status with some heroic European displays. He has played every single minute of Dortmund’s run to Wembley, helping them keep a competition-high six clean sheets.

He has arguably improved in stature with each passing fixture, and never was he as impressive as against PSG. In both legs, he picked up the Man of the Match award, which only emphasises his importance. Dortmund were under the cosh at times both at Signal Iduna Park and the Parc des Princes, yet Hummels, as the squad’s elder statesman alongside Marco Reus, showed leadership as he carried his young charges over the line.

Although he wasn’t directly up against Kylian Mbappé, Hummels got the better of FIFA World Cup winner almost whenever he faced him, which is no mean feat. As previously mentioned, though, this run of form dates back the group stage, with the defender’s performance against AC Milan at the San Siro just as eye-catching.

That earned Hummels another MOTM trophy, and manager Edin Terzić even compared him to another Dortmund deity, Jürgen Kohler. “He played an incredible game today. There are certainly some people in this room who can remember Kohler’s game in Manchester. He was then named a football god. I don’t think that Kohler’s performance back then was significantly better than Hummels’ performance today.”

Now, to Wembley, a stadium where Hummels does not have great memories. Alongside Reus, he was part of the Dortmund squad that lost 2-1 to Bayern in the 2013 final. It threatened to be a repeat of that showpiece 11 years ago, but Real Madrid had other ideas, meaning the North-Rhine Westphalia outfit will face the 14-time champions.

There are few tougher tasks in football than beating Los Blancos in Europe’s premier club competition. Hummels, though, has shown he can deal with the planet’s best forwards on a regular basis, and 1 June may be the perfect time to say farewell. After all, his contract runs out at the end of this campaign, and he may well decide to hang up his boots as a result, following in the footsteps of Reus.

Watch: Borussia Dortmund one win from Champions League glory

Having said that, he continues to age like a fine wine, and as he returns to his best, it would be a shame to see him step away. Regardless of his long-term future, Dortmund will need all of his experience and nerveless defending in London if they are to triumph. Expect Hummels to relish the occasion once more.