They say a footballer’s career is a short one. For Eintracht Frankfurt’s Marco Russ, life at the top end of the game must feel even more fleeting.
On Saturday evening, Russ came off the bench in the 74th minute to make his 25th appearance of the season. The venue: Berlin’s sold-out Olympiastadion. The occasion: the 75th DFB Cup final against the newly crowned Bundesliga champions and record cup winners Bayern Munich.
Some twenty minutes later, the native of Hanau, 25km east of Frankfurt, was celebrating his first ever major trophy as a professional, a truly wonderful achievement for a man that has been through the full range of emotions that football has to offer, and then some.
Rewind 4,403 days, to 29 April 2006. Russ is 20 years old and, having made a handful of appearances in the Bundesliga that season, is thrust into the starting XI to face the Bavarians in that year’s edition of the DFB Cup final. He performs admirably but Bayern’s experience tells and the favourites win 1-0.
He was an unused substitute as Frankfurt lost once again in the DFB Cup final to Borussia Dortmund later that year, and he may well have thought his chance to lift the trophy had slipped away for good. But football has its way of rewarding hard work.
On Saturday evening, Russ was front and centre as the Frankfurt players held aloft the famous trophy for the fifth time in the club’s history. With half the stadium decked out in black and white, a sweeter moment for the defender there surely could not have been.