As Roman Weidenfeller bids a final Auf Wiedersehen to Borussia Dortmund, takes a look at six bona fide BVB icons whose reputations have been carved out in black and yellow.

Nuri Sahin

Ball boy to Bundesliga winner sounds like a fairy tale, but it is the reality of one of the classiest midfielders ever to wear the black-and-yellow shirt.

After Sahin announced he would be ending his association with BVB to join Werder Bremen in the summer, he posted a Twitter video detailing what was a spectacular journey across a decade-and-a-half and 274 competitive appearances in two spells at the Signal Iduna Park.

After a loan move to Feyenoord for the 2007/08 campaign, he played 88 Bundesliga matches either side of a two-year hiatus with Real Madrid and Liverpool, two of the planet's biggest clubs, who had been convinced to sign Sahin after he had majestically orchestrated the 2010/11 title win, providing the inspiration to complement Sebastian Kehl's industry.

"For all but two games this season I'll be a Dortmund fan," said Sahin, whose Bundesliga bow on 6 August 2005 at the age of 16 years and 335 days means he still is the youngest-ever top-flight debutant in Germany. "Until my last breath, when I close my eyes, I will hear you singing my name."

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Jürgen Kohler

When Kohler arrived in Dortmund aged nearly 30 in 1995, he knew the club, and EVERYONE in football knew him.

A two-year spell at Bayern Munich had been followed by a five-season stint at Juventus while he had been one of the rocks on which Germany's 1990 FIFA World Cup triumph had been founded.

With age against him, few could have expected Kohler would give a magnificent seven more years to Dortmund fans who gave him the 'Fußballgott' (Football god) tag supporters would later adopt for Bastian Schweinsteiger.

"What stayed with me is the warmth and humanity these people showed me," said Kohler, whose none-shall-pass approach to defending was the cornerstone of Dortmund's UEFA Champions League win over his former club Juve in 1996/97. "You can't buy that with all the money in the world."

Jürgen Kohler helped Dortmund win the UEFA Champions League in 1996/97. © imago / Werek


He was nicknamed 'The German' by his fellow Brazilians. Why? Simple, he joined Dortmund when he was 20 in 1998, and left 13 years and 322 Bundesliga games later — the third-most in BVB history — moving to Turkey in 2011 having just claimed a second Meisterschale.

He returned to the stadium he had called his home for well over a decade in 2015 for a well deserved testimonial. An immense 81,359 turned up to witness a teary-eyed farewell with former stars such as Marcio Amoroso, Paulo Sergio, Jan Koller and Mladen Petric playing alongside one they had called their own for so long.

"I didn't want to cry, but my family is here, my former teammates and 80,000 fans in the stadium, you can't explain that," said the one-time Brazil international, who had been with the club as it sank from the summit of German football and then rose again. "You only get that at Borussia Dortmund. It's a special club."

Dede was given a tear-jerking send-off in 2011 after playing 322 Bundesliga games for BVB. © imago / Christophe Reichwein

Neven Subotic

"I don't want to earn my money on the bench, but rather want to be an active part of a story, as was the case until last year," wrote Subotic on Facebook when he announced in summer 2016 that — with his first-team opportunities limited under Thomas Tuchel — he wanted to leave the club. "I hope you can relate to it and understand it. BVB is in my heart, and will always remain there."

The Dortmund fans clearly believed him.

Neven Subotic was an integrl part of Dortmund's back-to-back title wins in 2011 and 2012. © imago / DeFodi

When he played against them while on loan at Cologne in 2016/17 he was given a rapturous welcome — "I doubt one per cent of soccer players get that sort of welcome from the whole stadium," the elated Serbia international told — and with good reason.

In 196 Bundesliga matches, Subotic wrote himself and the teams which he was a key part of into BVB history, partnering Mats Hummels at the heart of a defence that brought back-to-back titles to the Ruhr Valley between 2010 and 2012, and reached the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League final.

By the time he left the club for good in January 2018 to join French side Saint-Etienne, his status as 'Dortmund legend' was assured. "Neven has come to represent a great and successful era for BVB," said Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc. "He is a special and worthy player. Our doors in Dortmund will always remain open for him!"

Jürgen Klopp

"Klopp is my coach, and perhaps also a little bit my friend," Subotic had said after his mentor at Mainz had packed him into the footballing luggage Klopp arrived at Dortmund with in 2008.

The bespectacled former Mainz defender brought a whole lot more than a top-drawer centre-back with him though. Often inspirational, fearsome at times, driven all the time, Klopp was the man Dortmund needed to bring them back to the big time after their financial struggles.

He didn't bring them back though, he yanked them back into the limelight with a breathtaking blend of brilliant man-management, BVB's patented Gegenpressing, and more than the odd fist-pump.

Fist-pumping like the best of them: Jürgen Klopp had plenty of reasons to celebrate at BVB.

The successive Bundesliga title triumphs of this heavy metal fan were spectacular achievements, playing a brand of football that had the Signal Iduna Park rocking and the football pundits purring. There was also a DFB Cup win in 2012 and a UEFA Champions League final runners-up line added to a glorious CV written in black-and-yellow ink.

There were tears on his departure in 2015 — could it have been any other way for one of the game's most emotional coaches? — and not just because his team had been beaten by a Kevin De Bruyne-inspired Wolfsburg in the DFB Cup final, though the trademark Klopp humour was intact.

"If we had been cup winners again, it would have been too cheesy," said the now-Liverpool manager with a grin in his post-match press conference. "So I'm happy we're all so realistic, it's better like that."

Roman Weidenfeller

He was free. Yes, Dortmund's legendary goalkeeper did not cost them a single cent. Quite a return for BVB, who picked up Weidenfeller as understudy to Jens Lehmann from Kaiserslautern in 2002 and then saw him make 349 Bundesliga appearances, second only on the club's all-time list to Zorc.

There was a silverware lining to go with those games, notably the Klopp-inspired titles, two DFB Cups and — as a result of his consistency for his club — a late career Germany call-up that was soon followed by an unlikely 2014 World Cup winner's medal.

Roman Weidenfeller was a firm fan favourite during his 16 years at Signal Iduna Park. © gettyimages / Sascha Stuermann

The huge 'Danke Roman' banner across the Yellow Wall at last season's final home game against Mainz said it all, though they might have paraphrased Weidenfeller's own words.

"I think we have a grandios Saison gespielt" (I think we have played a grandiose season), said Weidenfeller when caught off guard by a TV reporter from Dubai who wanted an answer in English just minutes after the final whistle had sounded on Dortmund's 2010/11 season.

Weidenfeller, one of the Bundesliga's most underrated number ones, certainly enjoyed a grandiose career.

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