Nuri Sahin (r.) was all smiles after inspiring Dortmund to a second straight win on Matchday 2. - © © imago
Nuri Sahin (r.) was all smiles after inspiring Dortmund to a second straight win on Matchday 2. - © © imago

Nuri Sahin getting the good times to roll again at Borussia Dortmund

"And today's man of the match is: Nuri Sahin!" After almost six years of ups and downs, those words from the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK public address system on Matchday 2 will have sounded like music to the ears of the 29-year-old midfielder.

With a goal – his first in two and a half years – and a first ever assist for the prolific Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, experts did not need to scratch their heads in determining the standout performer in Borussia Dortmund's 2-0 win over Hertha Berlin.

"I'm really pleased for Nuri," said team-mate Lukasz Piszczek, fresh from making his 250th Bundesliga appearance. "He's had a tough time, but that's behind him now and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he stays fit and continues to play like this. The coach is encouraging him and giving him confidence and I think you can see that in how he's playing."

Read: Piszczek after his 250th Bundesliga appearance


Indeed, confidence was simply oozing out of Sahin's body language, with an aura of authority in his game and a lightness in his step – as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. It probably had.

After a season spent mainly on the sidelines, unable to force his way into the thoughts of former Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel, Sahin now seems to be on the same wavelength as BVB's new boss. 

"He's a relaxed guy – a real people's person and always correct," Sahin said of Peter Bosz, who replaced Tuchel in the summer. "Every footballer needs to feel wanted. I don't particularly want to be the best or the most important – I just want to be part of the BVB family; part of it all, and contributing to our successes."

Watch: Sahin says it was 'about time' he scored again

It is something he has been craving for many years. His exclusion from the matchday squad for last May's DFB Cup final brought to a head years of frustration for the youngest ever debutant in the Bundesliga, 12 years on from his first appearance on German football's ultimate stage. 

A move to Real Madrid in 2011, after inspiring Dortmund to the Bundesliga title in 2010/11, was a boyhood dream come true, but injury and other misfortune meant it did not work out for the Merengues. A transfer to Liverpool and the opportunity to play at the legendary Anfield was no step down in his career, but there too he had his problems.

In January 2013, an oliver branch was extended to him by BVB. "I'm delighted to be back home," he said, although his travails did not end there. Serious groin and knee injuries repeatedly set him back – until now.

He would not even have dared to take that shot six months ago, but the Turkish midfielder was not the same man then as he feels he is now, and it showed. "Nobody in the stadium even knew he had a right foot," joked his team-mate Gonzalo Castro

"It's true – I don't know myself how often I hit the ball so well with my right foot," Sahin said, taking up the story. "But I had a good feeling as soon as the ball left my boot. It's about time I scored again!"

Read: report of Dortmund's 2-0 win over Hertha

That good feeling has been instilled in him by his new coach, and it is one which has not only put a smile back on Sahin's face, but made him feel important again for the first time since lifting the Bundesliga with Dortmund over six years ago.

"I'm getting that now, and it's doing me the world of good," he said. It may have been a long time in coming, but Sahin is pulling the strings again and memories of that 2010/11 title-winning campaign are flooding back for him and Dortmund fans.

Ben Gladwell

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- © gettyimages / Maja Hitij