Mahmoud Dahoud has been on an incredible journey in his career, now at Borussia Dortmund since 2017, and is still only 25. - © DFL
Mahmoud Dahoud has been on an incredible journey in his career, now at Borussia Dortmund since 2017, and is still only 25. - © DFL

Borussia Dortmund's Mahmoud Dahoud on a career-threatening injury, being a vocal leader and his Germany dream


Borussia Dortmund's Mahmoud Dahoud has never had things easy in life, or his footballing career. From fleeing his country of birth Syria to overcoming a career-threatening injury at 17 to now rediscovering his form at the Signal Iduna Park, the 25-year-old has been through more than most players experience in the span of a career.

Sitting down with over the international break, Dahoud discusses his desire to return to the Germany national team and earn a permanent place in the senior squad, as well as his love of simply playing, and being a vocal leader on the pitch for Dortmund. Training must be even more enjoyable in this weather, is that true?

Mahmoud Dahoud: "That's true. You always want to play football when the weather is good." How are you doing?

Dahoud: "I'm doing well. The three days off did us good - we were able to relax a bit. I'm doing very well so far." How are you preparing for the game against Eintracht Frankfurt?

Dahoud: "We knew from the beginning that the game against Frankfurt on Saturday was going to be important. We'll prepare thoroughly this week. We have an important training session tomorrow. A few of the players are returning. Edin [Terzic], our coach, will explain how we're going to set up against them." What sort of team are Frankfurt?

Dahoud: "They're certainly uncomfortable opponents. They'll be very aggressive. They know how to get under our skin. They're also dangerous on the break and very clinical up front." Are Frankfurt a team that are better playing with the ball or without the ball?

Dahoud: "They're a team that can do both. They're very aggressive without the ball, but they also have the quality to hold onto the ball. They have a lot of good players in midfield. Amin [Younes], [Filip] Kostic, [Martin] Hinteregger too, though I think he is injured at the moment."

Watch: Dortmund and Frankfurt drew 1-1 in their meeting earlier this season How important is the match against Frankfurt?

Dahoud: "It's very important for the club. And for the team as well. We simply have to win against Frankfurt - there is no other option. The three points must stay here." Are you expecting a difficult match against Frankfurt?

Dahoud: "Definitely. But it's not easy playing against us either." You have been playing a lot of minutes recently. How hard was it waiting for your chance?

Dahoud: "I've always been very honest with myself - I've always worked hard. It wasn't always easy being patient but I stuck to my job and waited for my chance. I did my job. And whenever I did get a chance, I wanted to make full use of it, to show my qualities." Do you think you have developed as a player of late?

Dahoud: "For me, I always look to identify my weak points after every game I play and to make sure I address these in the next game. I always go into the next game with the confidence to do these things better."

Mahmoud Dahoud has started each of Borussia Dortmund's last five Bundesliga games, having made only five appearances in the entire first half of the 2020/21 season. - DFL And that's a key factor in how you progress as a player?

Dahoud: "Exactly. After every game, I can't stop thinking about the things I did badly and often can't sleep. Then I go into the next game with the intention of addressing these weak points. I notice that things improve over time because of this attitude that I adopt. Then I reflect on the weak points from that game too and identify areas for improvement. I get frustrated with certain situations. My desire is always to improve with every game and to offer more than the last game." You are one of the more vocal players on the pitch. Has that always been the case?

Dahoud: "That's true - it was the case at youth level too. If I'm not vocal on the pitch, I feel as though I'm not in the game. The emotions are not there, and I myself am not there. At that point, I may as well be left out." Off the pitch, you are a very calm person. Why is that the case?

Dahoud: "I don't speak in front of the cameras that much - there is always a chance of something going wrong! But on the pitch that doesn't matter."

Mahmoud Dahoud (c.) has scored twice this season for Borussia Dortmund from midfield, much to Erling Haaland's (l.) delight. - imago images Jadon Sancho has said in the past that the pitch is his happy place. Is the same true for you?

Dahoud: "All negative things fade away. As he says, it's somewhere where you can be truly happy with every good passage of play." You made your Bundesliga debut at the age of 18. What was that like?

Dahoud: "My debut would have come much earlier had I not got injured. Lucien [Favre] spoke to me when I was 17 and said he wanted to bring me on for my debut. At the start of the Bundesliga pre-season, he spoke to me and told me I would come on that season. Then two weeks before the start of the season, I injured my ankle. I was out for roughly a year. That was very sad. I fought back from that and he gave me my debut when I was 18." You suffered that injury when you were 17. How much did the injury hold you back?

Dahoud: "I tried to play for a few days or for a week at a time but had to stop as I was always in pain." How difficult was that year for you?

Dahoud: "I thought I would never return. I thought I wouldn't manage to get back onto the pitch. I really did think that way. It wasn't easy."

Mahmoud Dahoud (r.) burst onto the Bundesliga scene at Borussia Mönchengladbach, alongside now Borussia Dortmund teammate Thorgan Hazard (l.) between 2013 and 2017. - imago images How do you feel now at the age of 25?

Dahoud: "I don't know - I feel much more solid and more stable than I did in the past. It's difficult to be more specific as it depends on the situation." What was it like playing for the national team?

Dahoud: "It was truly an amazing feeling being involved. I've been called up twice. I wouldn't say I'm satisfied with my two call-ups. You become hungrier each time and always want to get into the team. But the call-up was a great feeling and gave me renewed energy. I knew that I was playing well, that I was capable of more and it gave me motivation for the season." How proud were you?

Dahoud: "I grew up here, Germany is the only country that I know. I'm very grateful to Germany for the opportunities it has given me. So, it's truly amazing that I was able to represent my country."