When people think of Borussia Dortmund, they think of The Yellow Wall – the greatest fans in the world. Of Jurgen Klopp and his record-breaking team. Of the famous 4-1 victory in the first leg of the 2013 Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid. Of Marco Reus and the new kids on the block who are doing bits. Of Echte Liebe.
In all these, one player in recent history personifies the “genuine love” for the game and the club, and that is Nuri Sahin.
Nuri Sahin joined fellow Bundesliga team Werder Bremen in the summer transfer window of the 2018/19 season after Dortmund and the player came to an agreement to cancel the player’s contract with just one year left.
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) August 31, 2018
He was welcomed with open hands at Bremen and also given a hero’s goodbye by Dortmund’s amazing fans on his return to the Westfalenstadion in their home match against Werder Bremen last season.
At the age of 12, Sahin moved 45 minutes from his family home in Meinerzhagen in order to play at Dortmund’s academy. Four years after that, he made his league debut at the age of 16 years and 335 days as the Bundesliga’s youngest ever player and scored his first goal for the club in the same year against 1. FC Nürnberg.
Sahin is known for his vision on the ball. He is able to play precisely with balls on the ground or in the air. Another one of Sahin’s strengths is his shot. He is predominantly a left-footed player who can finesse or power the ball into either corner. Sahin is a master of free kicks and other set-pieces.
Apart from being a stellar central midfield player, Nuri Sahin is a Dortmund ambassador on and off the field. He played with passion in Yellow and Black at the very highest level. Even through injury and hard times, an unwavering smile could always be found on Sahin’s face. This is why Sahin was one of Dortmund’s poster boys – and still is, to be honest.
Nuri Sahin bleeds yellow and black. In a heartfelt message on 14 August 2017 via the Players Tribune, Dortmund’s youngest goalscorer discussed his career, what it means to play for Borussia Dortmund and what he termed “the worst day of his life so far” (the Monaco bombing incident).
Now, however, he plies his trade in Bremen and has taken only one season to adapt to the style of football there, quickly becoming a fan favourite.
— Nuri Şahin (@nurisahin) September 3, 2018
In Sahin’s first season with the club, he started only 19 games and didn’t rack up the most impressive stats. However, he managed to stay true to his technical ability in passing the ball, as he completed 86.3% of his passes, averaging 0.8 key passes per game and two long balls per game. He was also barely dispossessed, losing just 0.7% of possession per game. Defensively, he made an average of three tackles and 1.9 interceptions per game. The season ended with him only contributing one goal and one assist to Bremen’s cause – which isn’t much of a problem, as Nuri Sahin is not known for his goalscoring (38 goals in 366 career appearances, via Transfermrkt).
However, he has comfortably settled into his new role in Bremen this season and he has hit the ground running. He is currently Europe’s best passer of the ball, beating former Bremen man, Kevin De Bruyne, to the accolade. Sahin has rediscovered his string-pulling best form in the middle of the park for Bremen. He has completed 83.3% of his passes, three of which have been assists in his four games so far for the side. Per game, he averages 4.8 key passes in comparison to KDB’s 4.5 at a completion rate of 83.7%, which have yielded seven assists for the Belgian simply because of a superior attack force ahead of him (stats via WhoScored).
Later today, he will be marching out on the Signal Iduna Park as the club of his heart, Borussia Dortmund, play host to Werder Bremen on matchday six of the 2019/20 Bundesliga season. Both clubs have started the season slowly, with Dortmund losing one and drawing one, and Bremen losing three and drawing two out of five games played so far in the Bundesliga.
The man whose tally of six goals and eight assists in 30 Bundesliga games helped propel Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund to the Meisterschale in 2011 definitely will be given a hero’s welcome when he steps on the Signal Iduna Park and a hero’s goodbye when he steps off it.
This match henceforth will be known as the “Nuri Sahin Derby” by the powers vested upon me.