Christian Pulisic finished his Borussia Dortmund career with a flourish, but fell just short of claiming a Bundesliga winner's medal.
Pulisic produced two goals and one assist in his final three appearances for Dortmund ahead of his summer move to English Premier League club Chelsea, playing his part in one of the most thrilling title races in living memory.
It wasn't enough for Dortmund to pip Bayern Munich to the post - BVB finished two points behind the record champions - but it was a fitting farewell on a personal level following five career-shaping years in black and yellow.
Watch: Pulisic's emotional Dortmund farewell
The story began in February 2015 when Pulisic - who trained at Barcelona’s vaunted La Masia academy as a 10-year-old - left the Pennsylvania Classics developmental team for Dortmund. He was only a teenager at the time but because his paternal grandfather was born in Croatia, the Hershey native was able to acquire a EU passport, enabling him to play in Europe at 16, rather than 18. He hasn’t looked back.
A Bundesliga youth title winner at U17 and U19 level, Pulisic made his top-flight debut within weeks of being invited to train with the Dortmund first team during the 2015/16 winter break. He took his senior international bow in March 2016, and scored his first Bundesliga goal the following month.
Records tumbled as 'Captain America' surged up the career ladder, becoming - among other notable best-marks for club and country - the youngest American to register a goal and assist in the UEFA Champions League, and the youngest American to lift a major European trophy (the 2016/17 DFB Cup). All between the ages of 17 and 20. All under BVB’s edifying gaze.
"Without you fans I would not be here," Pulisic told the Dortmund supporters before the Matchday 33 meeting with Fortuna Düsseldorf, his final outing at the Signal Iduna Park as a BVB player. "Dortmund will always feel like home."
Watch: Dortmund 3-2 Düsseldorf
Pulisic’s sincerity was well received, and not just because he addressed the crowd in German. "I’ve been here for five years, so it was only right I learn German," he told bundesliga.com. "I just thought it was the right thing to do, to say goodbye in German even though my German’s not perfect, but I try my best."
A for effort. Aside from the moments of magic in the final third that have put Pulisic the player on the world football map, it is the work ethic of Pulisic the man that has endeared him to the old steel communities of Dortmund.
Even in 2018/19, stymied by niggling injuries and fighting for regular playing time, the 23-time USA international has proven himself an invaluable cast member with a direct hand in a goal every 119 minutes, compared to one every 257 minutes in 2017/18.
In his last three outings alone, Pulisic scored in the 2-2 with Werder Bremen, broke the deadlock in the 3-2 win over Fortuna that took the title race to the final day and laid on a goal for Marco Reus as BVB beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-0, only to lose out on the Meisterschale following Bayern's 5-1 drubbing of Eintracht Frankfurt.
"It's perhaps not been perfect, but it's not been a bad season for me either," Pulisic told Ruhr-Nachrichten, having started nine of his 24 Bundesliga appearances this term, chiming in with four goals and five assists across seven games in which Dortmund took 17 from a possible 21 points - without the slightest hint of disgruntled diva.
"I hope the fans remember me as someone who always gave their everything for Dortmund," he said. "It's been five wonderful years."
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