Marco Reus, Borussia Dortmund’s elder statesman, is at peace with his place in the game

Marco Reus is outdated. He is 32, which is young-ish for the final inhabitants — he is solely two years older than I’m — however the world of sports activities has a extra condensed timeline. Generations of gamers come and go, particularly at a membership like Dortmund, and the fortunes of a workforce can change a number of instances in a handful of years.

Reus has been at Dortmund for nearly 10 years. There are younger Dortmund followers for whom Reus has been the face of and probably the one constant taking part in determine of the membership. Although gamers are capable of play on the highest stage longer into their 30s (Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo) and doubtlessly into their 40s (Zlatan Ibrahimovic), Reus is admittedly nearer to the ending of his profession now than he’s to the center of it. His graying hair is visible proof that he is not the boy of infinite prospects.

Towards the top of our video interview in the course of September, I jokingly requested him if we are going to ever see him do one thing enjoyable along with his hair once more, like his time with frosted ideas or the spiky comb-over, and he mentioned that he must ask his teammate Erling Haaland for concepts, however that his personal hair simply is not what it was once when he was a younger man. However we’ll see.

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That Reus is outdated is a banal truth and a wierd actuality. Folks get outdated, issues change, the years stack on high of each other; it is the simplest rule of the universe. What’s unusual about Reus being outdated is that as a result of he has stayed on a workforce for which younger gamers are constantly coming in and leaving from, he’s an outsider inside that machine. Gifted gamers like him aren’t purported to make Dortmund their perpetually properties.

Robert Lewandowski got here and left. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got here and left. Ilkay Gundogan, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Shinji Kagawa, Ciro Motionless, Christian Pulisic, Ousmane Dembele and Jadon Sancho have all come and gone. Donyell Malen, Youssoufa Moukoko, Jude Bellingham, Gio Reyna and, after all, Haaland, will certainly depart whereas Reus remains to be there. He might have not less than left and are available again, like Mario Gotze and Mats Hummels, however that additionally by no means occurred for him.

The opposite motive Reus’ age is unusual is that his profession has been interrupted a lot by accidents that his narrative arc appears incomplete. Or relatively, his story reads like one in all prospects deferred. Deferred after which erased. His record of accidents can cowl pages, and even only a month in the past he suffered one other knee damage whereas on worldwide obligation. Probably the most constant factor about his profession is he is positive to be within the stands extra usually than the common participant.

I requested him concerning the pure frustrations that include his profession being hindered by all of these accidents, and whether or not it angers him now because it used to when he was youthful.

“I’ve turn out to be extra relaxed in that regard,” he mentioned. “One will get to know one’s physique higher. One learns that perhaps at this time it’s good to do a bit much less, to offer the physique time to get better. I’m 32 years outdated, however I nonetheless really feel on the top of my powers. Perhaps what I missed with all these accidents prior to now I’m now capable of deliver again. How one prepares for the sport, for coaching and to easily to know that every single day is essential. To deliver the physique to the fitting steadiness, after which after all to be mentally ready: that setbacks are a part of life however to not surrender.”

As Reus got here out and in of the image, the years stored passing as he recovered and his teammates modified round him. Then out of the blue, within the proverbial blink of a watch, he is 32. He exhibits as much as an interview as a person with graying hair. He goes from being pissed off at his physique and dropping time, to creating the very best of the time he is afforded. He begins considering and speaking a few life after soccer. As Louise Gluck wrote in her poem “Daybreak,” “Years and years — that is how a lot time passes. All in a dream.”

I requested him if the fast transition from promising younger boy to elder statesman has been odd for him.

“Sure, undoubtedly. It’s at all times unbelievable how briskly the time passes. Now there are 17- and 18-year-olds which are at such a excessive stage that I used to be at once I was their age. It is vitally loopy to see, however that is the time and now I’m nearly one of many oldest gamers. It exhibits that one merely has to get pleasure from this time since you will be unable to get this time again.”

From one perspective, Reus will be seen within the tragic sense as one other case of what may need been — a narrative as outdated as the sport of soccer itself. There was as soon as a time when his identify was as scorching on the switch market because the gifted kids he now mentors. He was voted the quilt star for FIFA 17, becoming a member of the elite group of canopy stars like Messi, Neymar, Eden Hazard and Kylian Mbappe. But, in contrast to most of them, he has remained at his membership, so lengthy that he is now the second-longest-serving participant at Dortmund, after Marcel Schmelzer.

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Reus might have ended up at Actual Madrid or Barcelona. Bayern had been naturally within the dialog, as they’ve taken so lots of Dortmund’s greatest (Lewandowski, Hummels, Gotze) over time. Or he might have landed on a workforce within the Premier League. None of these strikes materialized. He stayed at Dortmund. He selected to remain as a lot as his physique pressured him to remain.

I requested him if he generally regretted by no means leaving.

“No,” he mentioned. “I’ve to say that every one the selections I’ve made have come from the center. I feel that merely speaks to me as an individual. It doesn’t matter what resolution I needed to take, I listened to my coronary heart.

“After all one thinks about it if you happen to get provides from numerous groups, high golf equipment, however that’s a part of it and you need to decide sooner or later. However my coronary heart has at all times instructed me that I really feel probably the most comfy right here. To play in entrance of 80,000 followers will not be one thing one needs to overlook out on, and subsequently the choice was by no means actually arduous. However after all one has considered it.”

It may be tough to concentrate on the current in soccer. The infinite cycle of seasons, together with an equally infinite manufacturing facility line of expertise, gamers and managers, and the fantasy soccer ingredient that turns pundits and followers into armchair homeowners and administrators, implies that one is at all times what’s subsequent.

Younger gamers are an ideal illustration of the obsession with the long run, so filled with promise that it is tough to not fantasize about what they are often. The creativeness runs wild. A whole trade of switch rumors is constructed on them. Haaland is scoring objectives for enjoyable at Dortmund, however every objective solely intensifies the urge to think about him some other place, to consider the place he will be and what he can do sooner or later.

In a method, these younger gamers by no means actually exist. They’re rarely seen as they’re in the mean time. They’re what they are often, what they are going to be. As soon as they hit that peak, turn out to be veterans, lose that promise, the gaze turns towards the brand new crop of younger gamers who will exchange them.

Ramon Calderon, former president of Actual Madrid, as soon as referred to as Guti the “everlasting promise,” a paradoxical nickname as a result of the midfielder, by means of his personal private faults and exterior circumstances, by no means turned what he was envisioned to be. He by no means stopped being younger within the summary sense, at the same time as he neared the top of his profession.

Whereas speaking to Reus, I began to consider him because the “instant current,” and Reus by his admission is not enthusiastic about the time he has misplaced or what’s to come back. What he’s involved about is having fun with each second of his time now. Making an attempt to do his greatest for the workforce, himself, his physique, after which leaving the long run to come back as it could.

After we spoke in mid-September, I used to be shocked by his deciding to not go to the 2020 European Championships with Germany. However listening to him illuminate the reasoning behind his resolution matched completely with how at peace he’s with himself.

“It was not a simple resolution,” he mentioned. “You do not name off such a match, but it surely was properly thought out due to my damage historical past or the lengthy damage I had final yr. My physique merely instructed me or gave me a sign that over an extended interval it will be higher to calm issues down however at similar time to maintain working to get my physique in a greater situation for the upcoming season. So for this season, I attempted that. I used to be not solely on the seaside and having fun with the solar, however I additionally labored. I imagine the combination was good. I additionally didn’t in any method remorse the choice, however I accepted it and gave my physique the time to get better.”

This new focus on the current, the concentrate on what he’s proper now with out the nervousness of the long run or remorse over the time that he misplaced, has led to a renaissance. Even with the accidents he suffered final season, Reus had one in all his greatest private campaigns. He managed eight objectives and 6 assists, and within the German Cup ultimate, he was concerned in all 4 objectives in Dortmund’s rout of RB Leipzig. Nobody would have held it towards him if he’d walked away from the sport early or not less than misplaced perception in his skill to succeed in the heights that he’s at at this time. But for him, he at all times believed in his skill to maintain rising up many times, as many instances because it took to get to the place to indicate the breadth of his abilities.

“No, it was no shock,” he mentioned. “I imagine that each athlete has self doubt and since I used to be injured for a very long time and didn’t understand how I’d return, and that one wants a while to succeed in their stage, I didn’t put myself down. I knew what was in me, and I knew I might at all times assist the workforce. I needed to maintain working to imagine in myself. Then all the pieces is OK and all the pieces comes again.”

With Reus centered on his current, I wished to do the identical and watch the current Reus with out the sensation of his story being incomplete. To take a look at Reus because the participant in entrance of us in the mean time and admire him for what he’s.

Throughout the first six minutes towards Augsburg on Oct. 2, a match Dortmund gained 2-1, Reus had a penalty shout. He was sprinting for a ball within the field, making an attempt to beat a defender to it. Replay confirmed that the defender managed to get there a fraction of a second earlier than Reus did, and my pure behavior was to suppose {that a} youthful Reus would have completely crushed the defender to that ball. Comparable ideas like that crept in all through the match.

Probably the most noticeable distinction between Reus now and Reus then is simply that he is slower, which is an apparent and pure consequence of age and damage. He has the identical gait, the identical air of class and swiftness, however he does not eat up house the identical method he used to. He sprints, and defenders stick with him. Typically they catch as much as him after he has had a head begin, which nonetheless feels unusual. A lot of this lack of velocity is mitigated by Reus taking part in extra centrally lately, relatively than out on the wings.

Reus remains to be a fiery participant, which is a superb distinction between the coolness of him away from the sphere or what’s anticipated from the captain of the workforce. At one level he was booked for dissent after retaliating on Augsburg’s Daniel Caligiuri after the referee refused to name what seemed like a foul on Bellingham.



Janusz Michallik praises the efficiency of Jude Bellingham after Borussia Dortmund’s 3-1 win over Bielefeld.

His coolness additionally does not appear to have translated completely to his ending. Reus has a well-earned status for being technical, which makes it a humorous sight when he not solely misses a end, however fully skies the ball or misses the goal normally, which he did quite a few instances. It reached the purpose of him lacking one specific likelihood and simply laying on the grass in defeat for a number of seconds.

He nonetheless will get fouled rather a lot, too, every foul carrying a touch of potential tragedy. Gamers grimace and roll round to promote the foul, however with him, I am often too busy hoping it is not critical to actually benefit from the comedy of the second.

Regardless, Reus within the current is an excellent participant. He assisted Brandt’s objective within the match, and the method of the play concerned all of the little issues that make him pleasurable to observe.

Dortmund counterattacked with Marius Wolf driving the ball up from the left wing, and Reus racing with him on the within. As he was surrounded by defenders, Wolf handed the ball laterally to Reus, however a bit behind him. Reus has a selected behavior of letting the ball run behind his again, relatively than controlling it and turning with him. It is a type of noticeable habits, alongside along with his penchant for hitting passes with the surface of his proper foot when he might have made the identical go in additional sensible methods. Reus let it run behind his again, met it on the opposite facet and in the identical movement despatched the ball to Brandt, now on the fringe of the field. As Reus was making a run into the field for a return go, Brandt scored.

The second most noticeable factor about Reus when he performs now could be how little he holds on to the ball. Taking part in centrally, he usually acted as Dortmund’s level of reference after they wished to start out a counterattack. Often that might be the job of an even bigger striker who can maintain up the ball after which launch a teammate.

Reus is something however massive: he is 5-foot-11 however slight, and was famously let go by the Dortmund youth academy for being too small. He nonetheless managed to perform the identical job in his distinctive method, by means of fast interchanges. The ball would come to him, he would lay it off, transfer into house, obtain it once more, after which play the longer ball to a teammate on the wing or in entrance of him. He would accomplish this so shortly that his defender hardly ever had time to stabilize himself earlier than having to look to defend that lengthy go.

That method of taking part in wasn’t only for counterattacks. He barely carried the ball normally. I do not recall him working with the ball for quite a lot of yards, taking part in one- or two-touch the entire time. He launched the ball nearly the moment it got here to him, and would then run to obtain it once more. It is a easy fashion on the coronary heart of lots of footballing philosophies.

The failure to adapt one’s recreation to age and accidents can usually result in an early demise for a lot of gamers. Some individuals play a method and battle when that method is taken from them. Reus, in his older age, has made a beautiful transformation. He cannot beat quick defenders in a foot race anymore, however he can do much more harm by considering faster than them, benefiting from pockets of house, buzzing round just like the bee that he and his teammates are dressed as.

Reus’ taking part in fashion now is a superb metaphor for Reus the particular person and athlete. There’s little nervousness to him, no want for him to show something. He will get the ball and lets it go, all of the whereas trusting the spectacular, youthful gamers round him. He does what he can to place them in positions to succeed, his pure hearth accompanied by a larger intelligence and delight of the second. In different phrases, he is having a lot enjoyable taking part in and having fun with being himself, grey hairs and all.

Earlier than the Champions League match towards Ajax in late October, Dortmund coach Marco Rose, praised Reus because the central determine. “He’s our captain and he performs and acts like that. I can depend on him 100%. He’s an impressive footballer, he’s on the service of the workforce and he’s in a good condition. That is an important factor for me. He is in actually good kind. If he is lacking, we’re lacking rather a lot. Marco is a crucial glue that holds the workforce collectively.”

On the finish of our interview, I requested Reus what he was most grateful for, even with the entire setbacks.

“To have the ability to do the job that I at all times wished,” he mentioned. “I at all times wished to be a footballer. I by no means thought I might play professionally over an extended interval. I’m grateful that I’ve this chance, and I’m grateful that my household gave me this chance to play at such a stage, to deliver me up, to accompany me, and grateful merely that I’m nonetheless wholesome.

“Setbacks and accidents are a part of each sport, however I’m grateful that I at all times was capable of do the job and was allowed to.”

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