Munich - It's every young boy's fantasy: to play professional football for the club you've lived and breathed from the very moment you first sight eyes on the beautiful game.
For diehard Borussia Dortmund fan , that dream became a reality, as bundesliga.com finds out.
"When I was four-years-old, my father took me to a game," explained the BVB mega fan-turned player. "He had already been standing in the South Stand for about 35 years. It just runs in the family. We are all crazy - in a good way - when it comes to BVB. We have done quite a few things together that revolve around the club."
Unsurprisingly, Großkreutz set about turning his one, true love into a career from a very early age when he joined the BVB youth ranks in 2002. Despite being moved on to nearby Rot Weiss Ahlen a year later, the youngster refused to let that little knockback throw him off the Schwarz-Gelben scent. "I always believed in myself," he recalled. "The seven years did me good. Ahlen really nurtured me. I owe the club a lot."
Helping Rot Weiss Ahlen to promotion to the Bundesliga 2, Großkreutz earned a deserved spot in Kicker-Sportmagazine's 2008 Team of the Year, all the while finding enough time to squeeze in the odd BVB game along the way. "We often played on Friday. We had a cool down session on Saturday morning and afterwards I often drove straight to the games."
As hardcore a BVB fanatic as they come, it was Großkreutz' performances on the pitch that really caught the eye, and sure enough, boyhood club Dortmund soon returned, tail between the legs, to bring home the man they'd cast aside seven years earlier. "I accepted the offer immediately [...] The best fans are in Dortmund. It doesn't get any better," Großkreutz explained.
Lesson in love
Before the year was out, he had scored his first Bundesliga goal in a 4-0 victory over 1. FC Nuremberg and went on to establish himself as a key component in head coach Jürgen Klopp's BVB restoration project that culminated in back-to back Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012.
Of course, having been a Südtribüne regular for much of his life, Großkreutz was already a familiar face in the Schwarz-Gelben half of the Ruhr, but his popularity went into overdrive when asked what he'd do if his son turned out to be a fan of near neighbours FC Schalke 04. "I'd consider adoption," he responded. Now that's tough love.