If ever a Borussia Dortmund fan of a younger generation had the temerity to ask what Roman Weidenfeller has ever done for us - taking their cue from Monty Python - the answers would be shot back as swiftly as they were witheringly.

One of the Bundesliga's under-appreciated greats, Weidenfeller, who made his final top-flight outing as a late substitute in BVB's end-of-season defeat against Hoffenheim, has an honours list to compare with the best of them: twice a Bundesliga champion, twice a DFB Cup winner and a UEFA Champions League finalist in 2013. Put simply, he is one of the lesser-heralded – but no less vital – influences behind Dortmund's staggering recent success.

And that's only talking about club level – his brief but wildly successful international career made him both Germany's oldest debutant between the sticks and a 2014 FIFA World Cup winner. Not bad for a bloke who started out as back-up to Jens Lehmann.

Weidenfeller celebrates a Dortmund goal against Schalke; the stopper has made more Revierderby appearances (24) than any other player. © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Lukas Schulze

Hard as it might be to imagine Weidenfeller without his customary poise and calmness, there was a time when he wasn't such a mainstay at BVB. When he left Kaiserslautern for Dortmund in 2002 as a fresh-faced 21-year-old on the hunt for more playing time, he had perhaps not reckoned with the presence of the gnarled Jens Lehmann guarding the BVB goal. They struck up a rivalry – not always healthy – that exists to this day.

Perhaps sensing a changing of the guard, Lehmann himself was soon on the move, departing for Arsenal the following summer, and after oscillating between the bench and the starting XI, Weidenfeller finally staked his claim as permanent No1 in 2004, seeing off the challenge of Guillaume Warmuz.

He didn't look back: a Dortmund line-up without Weidenfeller, who combined excellent shot-stopping with a preternatural domination of his penalty area, was unthinkable for over a decade between 2004 and 2015. Indeed, the Diez native essentially book-ended Jürgen Klopp's time in North Rhine-Westphalia, starting his first and final games as coach – and pretty much every other one in-between. Prior to Matchday 33's meeting with Mainz, Weidenfeller has racked up 452 competitive appearances for BVB – second only to Michael Zorc in the club's all-time charts.

Weidenfeller's consistency and leadership at the highest level were influential as Klopp turned BVB from domestic also-rans to continental powerhouse – as well as that fine shot-stopping and the aura of calmness he transmitted to his defence, Weidenfeller skippered the 2010/11 title-winning side in the absence of Sebastian Kehl, which was more often than not.  

Regarded as a calm, family man off the field, Weidenfeller went down in BVB legend for a post-match interview given at the Signal Iduna Park after winning that Meisterschale. When begged for a comment by a visiting broadcaster, Weidenfeller responded: "I think we have a grandiose saison gespielt," mixing up German and English to much hilarity. So much hilarity, in fact, that to honour his career, Dortmund fans have produced t-shirts reading, "You have 16 grandiose saisons gespielt." Klopp called it a comment that would "go down in history".

Weidenfeller's on-field performances continued to draw praise the following year: he played 32 of 34 Bundesliga games as BVB retained the title, in large part thanks to his 86th-minute penalty save on Matchday 30 from Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben, preserving Dortmund's 1-0 lead and grip on the salad bowl.

Weidenfeller saves Robben's penalty in 2012. © imago / Norbert Schmidt

Robben might have got his revenge a year later at Wembley in the Champions League final, but – after a succession of fine displays (only Chelsea's Petr Cech saved more major chances in that season's competition) – Weidenfeller was hailed as  "the best goalkeeper in the world" by Klopp.

Yet while Weidenfeller was performing wonders in Europe, not even Klopp's fulsome intervention was enough to persuade Germany coach Joachim Löw to hand the custodian a Germany cap. Löw had flip-flopped time and again in public on the reasons for not selecting the Dortmund keeper for international duty, instead plumping for a string of evidently inferior custodians.

When the call finally came – in November 2013 – Weidenfeller accepted the honour with the professionalism that has characterised his career. That his first international outing – when, at 33, he became Germany's oldest goalkeeping debutant – came at Wembley in a 1-0 win against England added a level of symbolism that affected even the usually stoic stopper.

Weidenfeller kept a clean sheet on his international debut - a 1-0 win against England at Wembley in November 2013. © imago / PRessefoto Baumann

It proved the start of a brief, but wildly successful, international career – he might not have featured in Brazil, serving instead as Manuel Neuer's understudy, but he will always be able to call himself a World Cup winner.

Eventually, time caught up with Weidenfeller – as it did with the Romans, too – and after a patchy 2014/15 season, mirrored by his beloved club, Dortmund's new coach, Thomas Tuchel, brought in a Roman Bürki, relegating Weidenfeller back to No2 (where it all began, in a way).

Unbowed, Weidenfeller, closer to 40 than 30, put his head down and put in the hard yards. Tuchel went on record to state his astonishment at how impressively the veteran worked in training, vowing to find a place for him in the first team. They agreed that Weidenfeller would assume UEFA Europa League duties, the keeper adding some memorable European journeys – including that legendary double-header against Klopp's Liverpool – to a passport that he had already admitted was bursting at the seams.

The arrival of Tuchel's successor, Peter Bosz, also led to more bench time, although he was the first to admit that his role within the squad had changed: "Nobody happily takes a step back, but youth catches up with everyone eventually," he told kicker earlier this season.

"Since I've not been No1, I feel a bit more like the soul of the team. I try to keep the team together, to connect generations and set boundaries. I'm still hungry to win every game, and that's something I want to pass on."

There, then, would be the answer as to what Roman has done for us. No further questions, your Honour.

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