Mario Götze: The Roaring Twenties of Borussia Dortmund
Mario Götze’s FIFA World Cup-winning goal for Germany in 2014 was the pinnacle of a career that began at Borussia Dortmund. bundesliga.com traces the man’s journey from Eintracht Frankfurt to BVB and the Bundesliga title at Bayern Munich and then back.
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“We are very grateful to Mario’s father for coming from the Allgäu [region] Dortmund,” said Jürgen Klopp in 2010. The former BVB coach was one of the most grateful that university professor Jürgen Götze took a teaching job at Dortmund in 1997 when his son was not was only five years old.
Götze was born in southern Germany and even spent some of his early years in Houston, Texas, where his father worked at Rice University. Mario might even have donned an American shirt if the Götze family had stayed in the States longer – dream of those USMNT fans! – but a return to Europe was the first step in the making of a German national hero.
Look: Götze finds form with Eintracht Frankfurt
“Mario never had to look down like the other boys. He always knew what the ball was doing,” said Christian Droese, who witnessed Götze’s ball telepathy firsthand as a coach of FC Eintracht Hombruch. It was the local club in the family neighborhood of Dortmund, where eight-year-old Götze was so good he played with the U11s.
“On the court, it doesn’t matter how old you are,” Droese continued. “All that matters is if you can play. And Mario was simply the best.”
Götze hadn’t reached double figures for years when he was signed by Dortmund in 2001. In a very short time, he turned heads as he showed he had the attitude as well as the ability to have an impact at the top. From the game. “I’ve never seen anyone like Mario,” said youth team coach Peter Hyballa. “He’s so young and yet he’s playing…he’s grown so much already.”
The attacking midfielder won the Fritz Walter gold medal for Germany’s best young player in the U17 category in 2009, and by the time he won it again as an U18 the following year, he had already made his first-team debut for Dortmund. On 21 November 2009 – aged 17 years and five months – Götze entered the pitch in a goalless draw with Mainz, playing two of the top-flight 41 minutes he would accumulate that season.
Jürgen Klopp sent Götze on his debut for Borussia Dortmund against Mainz in November 2009. – imago sportfotodienst/imago sportfotodienst
Not many, admittedly, but more than most teenagers, who usually study for school leaving exams or worry about first job interviews at this age. Over the next 12 months, he drifted even further away from the usual preoccupations of his peers. It was the definition of a breakthrough season as he made 29 league starts and only missed one Bundesliga game.
Götze contributed six goals and 15 assists alongside Shinji Kagawa, Lucas Barrios and Robert Lewandowski as Dortmund won the title. He also made his UEFA Champions League debut, with Klopp proving to be the perfect boss to nurture and nurture his budding talent.
“He gave me what I needed in that moment and just trusted me. That’s the most important thing you need from a coach at the start – that he supports you at 100%,” Götze recently said of his former mentor and current Liverpool manager. “He helped me a lot to keep my feet on the ground. He handles everything off the pitch in a sensational way.”
On the pitch, Götze was equally exceptional, and he made his Germany debut aged just 18 years and five months in November 2010. “We’ve never had a talent like Mario,” said the former BVB star and Ballon d’Or winner Matthias Sammer. , who at the time was director of Dortmund’s youth academy.
But just when he seemed poised for string of successes, the 2011/12 season gave Götze and Dortmund fans a bitter taste of what was to come.
Götze (2nd from left) was part – along with Shnji Kagawa, Nuri Sahin, Felipe Santana and Robert Lewandowski – of a brilliant young Borussia Dortmund side that won the Bundesliga title in 2010/11. – Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images
Although the team won back-to-back titles, Götze spent most of his time watching from the sidelines. A pelvic injury meant he made just 18 league appearances that season, and only three after halftime.
Götze’s issues helped Lewandowski emerge as a serious talent this campaign, and they paired up to good effect in the 2012/13 season. Götze scored a career-high 22 goals, including 10 goals, but Bayern walked away with the title that had belonged to Dortmund for two years.
They would soon do the same with Götze – and a year later with Lewandowski – with the pull of the club he backed as a boy proving too strong. “Mario was a huge Bayern Munich fan from the start,” Droese said. “He brought this with him from the south.”
Götze also had another motivation: “I would like to experience playing for [Pep] Guardiola. That doesn’t mean I’m troubled by anything at Dortmund. But I know very well that this is a chance that may not come again, and it’s a chance that I would like to take.”
Look: Götze was hard to stop during his first spell at BVB
His decision drew the ire of Dortmund fans, who were desperately upset to discover that the heart of a player they considered one of their own actually belonged to someone else. It was also on Götze’s mind three years later when – after adding three successive Bundesliga winners’ medals, two DFB Cups, a FIFA Club World Cup, a UEFA Super Cup and a FIFA World Cup to his collection – he returned to Signal Iduna Park.
The outrageous medal haul he brought home from his time in Bavaria did not blind observers to the fact that his time at the Allianz Arena was not all rosy. Along the way, he scored that unforgettable goal for Germany against Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final, but in his final season with Bayern – 2015/16 – he only played 14 league appearances under Guardiola due to an unfortunate combination of form and injury. But don’t tell the man himself it was a failure.
“My time at Bayern was absolutely not a mistake, because the experience I gathered there, the successes I celebrated there, with the World Cup, the cup victories etc… everything was like I wanted to,” Götze insisted. “It was a positive period.”
Both he and Dortmund hoped his comeback would be equally fruitful for both. But under a succession of coaches – Thomas Tuchel, Peter Bosz, Peter Stöger and Lucien Favre – he never reached the heights he had as a carefree teenager under Klopp.
Götze got his hands on the FIFA World Cup trophy after scoring an extra-time winner for Germany against Argentina in the 2014 final. – Martin Rose/Getty Images
Why not? “A lot of people still associate me with the 19-year-old I was when I first came here,” he explained. “But this time I had a different position, a different role.” He was even used by Tuchel as a defensive midfielder. “I think Thomas Tuchel is trying to take me to a high level – a new level,” Götze said. The experience didn’t last long, however, as the player’s body rebelled.
The reason for a succession of injuries that had hampered his development for several seasons and the cause of the poor form that did not do justice to his natural talent was finally identified in February 2017: a metabolic disorder.
“It’s a real blow,” said Germany’s 1990 FIFA World Cup-winning captain Lothar Matthäus. you have to evaluate your performance differently.”
“I am currently undergoing treatment and am doing everything to get back to training as soon as possible and help my team achieve our common goals,” Götze wrote. However, his optimism was not reflected in reality and his second spell at Dortmund came down to 13 goals in just 75 league appearances spread over four disappointing and frustrating seasons.
“Everyone knows what Götze can do,” Favre said of the 2019/20 season, Götze’s last with the 1997 European champions. “It’s tough for me and it’s tough for him. “
Götze featured in Dortmund’s successful 2016/17 DFB Cup campaign, but only in the second round when he scored in a penalty shoot-out win over Union Berlin. Later, he made just five league starts in his final year at the club in 2019/20.
“It’s completely normal that he wants to play and play and play. Then I think we’ll see the former Mario Götze again,” Klopp said of his former protege’s plight. “With the quality that Dortmund have at the moment, that is clearly not possible. It makes perfect sense for Mario to leave the club.”
For Götze – who scored 45 goals in 219 games in his two spells with Dortmund – it also made sense. “I’m a guy who trusts his feelings and makes his own decisions,” he said after announcing he would join Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven with his contract from Dortmund expiring in the summer of 2020. “I feel ready for a new challenge and I’m sure it will be a good change for me.”
Look: Götze scored for Eintracht in a win over Union
It turned out, rejuvenating Götze in two seasons in Dutch football, where the highlight was playing in a cup final win over Ajax in April 2022. The 30-year-old’s form in the Netherlands -Bas – where he scored 18 goals and as many assists in 77 games – opened the door to a return to Germany with Frankfurt in the summer of 2022.
Now everyone – probably even Dortmund fans – are hoping to see the ‘Super Mario’ who wowed the league as a teenager wearing the iconic black and yellow jersey.