Sebastian Kehl has given his stamp of approval to new Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus, whilst backing Mario Götze to rediscover his best form in the season ahead.
Having represented Dortmund from 2002 until his retirement in 2015, Kehl played alongside both Reus and Götze during the latter part of his career. Earlier in the summer, the 38-year-old returned to the club as head of licensed player division.
Reus, who has made over 200 appearances for his hometown club, takes over the armband from left-back Marcel Schmelzer. He was let go by Dortmund at 17, but returned in 2012 after enjoying three fruitful years at Borussia Mönchengladbach. The 29-year-old is embarking on his 10th season of Bundesliga football, despite being blighted by a series of career-threatening injuries.
"Marco is growing into a new role, and I'll be supporting him all the way," said Kehl. "We'll be working very closely together and we'll be in touch a lot. As a captain you have to go through difficult times and have the bigger picture in mind. Marco is the ideal captain because, as a player and a person, he's an absolute role model. He lives the club - and he can make the difference on the pitch."
Götze is another Dortmund player set for a pivotal campaign. The 26-year-old was left out of Germany's 2018 FIFA World Cup squad after battling form, fitness and a metabolic disorder, but has featured prominently under new head coach Lucien Favre during pre-season. Kehl, for one, believes the five-time Bundesliga champion is nearing his former world-beating self.
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"Mario has a very important season ahead of him and he has big plans," said Kehl, who captained a team containing Götze to back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012. "After the first few weeks of training, I'm confident that we'll see the Mario Götze who dazzled BVB and the fans so often in the past, on a regular basis."