The Bundesliga's remarkable testicular cancer survivors


Should Sebastien Haller take to the field for Borussia Dortmund on Sunday not only would it add a fairytale chapter to his battle against testicular cancer, he would also become the league's fourth player to return to action this season after overcoming the disease.

Haller has been training with his Dortmund teammates for several weeks now following his diagnosis in July last year, and even scored a hat-trick in a mid-season friendly against Basel last week.

The 28-year-old described it as "the best feeling possible" in what was no doubt a cathartic moment for both the player and the club, and he made a point of thanking fans and well-wishers from across the world.

Watch: Haller's hat-trick against Basel

He has not shied away from sharing his remarkable story, from diagnosis through to treatment and recovery, and is now on the verge of making his first competitive appearance for the club, when they face Augsburg on Matchday 16.

"Sebastien has done well," said head coach Edin Terzic. "He was out for a very long time. We're proud of him for the way he fought and we're all delighted that he's available again. We'll have to wait and see whether he can start the game."

Equally remarkable is the fact that three other Bundesliga players have trodden a similar path inside the last year.

Watch: Haller reacts to comeback

Union Berlin's Timo Baumgartl was the first, with a tumor discovered in early May 2022 as part of a routine check-up. Surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy followed.

"When you're given the cancer diagnosis you're forced to think about what it would be like if you're no longer around," the 26-year-old said.

Thankfully, the defender was able to fight was way back, and approximately five months later he returned to competitive action. Head coach Urs Fischer put him in the starting line-up for the Matchday 7 fixture against Wolfsburg, which the capital club not only won 2-0 but the result consolidated their place at the top of the table.

"This is exactly what I dreamed about the whole time during my chemotherapy: to come back into the starting line-up and to win," he said, having invited his friends, family and doctors to the match at the Alter Försterei.

Watch: Timo Baumgartl - my story

It was a similar story for Hertha Berlin attacker Marco Richter, whose tumor was discovered in pre-season. It was swiftly removed through surgery and just 55 days later he crowned his recovery with a goal to seal a 2-0 victory over Augsburg on Matchday 5.

Hertha teammate Jean-Paul Boetius received the unwanted diagnosis of testicular cancer in September. He likewise required surgery to remove a tumor but as it was detected at such an early stage, no chemotherapy was required.

Having played against Mainz on Matchday 7, the Dutch midfielder was able to take to the pitch once again just a month later in a 2-1 triumph over Schalke on Matchday 11.

Watch: Richter wins Bundesliga Goal of the Year 2022

Thankfully, the quartet's journeys have all had happy endings. And if there is a silver lining to this darkest of clouds, then Richter has found it: raising awareness to get checked.

"You think you're indestructible until you get a shock diagnosis such as this," said the Hertha No.23. "We have a huge reach as footballers and it's such a small test. You go to the doctor and it feels it only takes three minutes."