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True love or what is Echte Liebe

If sky is clear, you can see it from above each time you come the airport of Dusseldorf: it's a big light-grey rectangle which rises prominently above the bulk of small houses. Those people who have at least the vaguest notion of the German football, shall guess without effort, what it is. To wave with a hand through a cabin window to the brightest football arena of Europe, not to mention that of the world, Signal Iduna Park, or Westfalenstadion, and then to go on one's business — is none other but masochism. If at some time there is the end to football, here it's last beams will be seen.

Let us recall Martin Kree

It's impossible to get to the press-center at stadium of Borussia in a different way, other than through the hall of fame Borusseum. This club — is not Real Madrid. It's hard to conquer it with the precious metals. Here they do appreciate a big, rough, raw steel. Those benches from the tribunes which were made by people, are manufactured of this steel. Those people “plowed” hard in the workshops, and in the evening they came to the stadium. Leather, of which those balls were made, which Borussia played as early as at the beginning of ХХ century, have still the white and blue color. Paper on which the first contract on the football club creation was signed, and a room, recreated by somebody in a modern manner. And only a silver dish, the Cup of Germany, that of the Champions League  twinkle from darkness in a small enclosed area-semi-circle … Even if you are fully concentrated on your affairs, an amateur who is forever more interested in pieces of news or indeed absolutely gone representative of "iPads generation", you will fail to pass just like that to a working place.

In Dortmund there is place for nothing but Borussia. The main station is severe, narrow, crowded. The road to the stadium goes through a small center. Restored houses, Adlerturm, a couple of churches, cetaecean opera, endless shopping centers. Nobody will organize an excursion in these places better than Kevin Großkreutz does it. A universal soldier is devoted to Borussia and could show all especially spiritually saturated places of his childhood. Kagawa, Mkhitaryan — got through it and were deprived in advance of a moral aspect to go against their hearts before the yellow and black wall.

- I’m Dortmund lad and BVB fan who is living his dream and fighting for the Black and Yellows together with the fans – says Grosskreutz - I live and breathe this club. And that will never change, no matter what direction my career may take. The special thing about it is that Borussia Dortmund really is a big part of my life. I’ve got a tattoo of the Dortmund skyline on my calf and my mates all stand on the terraces. After I scored the decisive goal in Marseille, thousands of fans sent me messages via text and facebook. I am one of them, have never changed and stay in contact with them. And it’s a good feeling that both sides know that. I do room with some of our newcomers during the trainings camp and spend a lot of time explaining that BVB is not a run-of-the-mill club. That it is defined by the relationship it has to its history, traditions and fans. For example, I taught Henrikh Mkhitaryan a few BVB songs. I think the video is on Youtube…

Here actually everything is special. Beginning from the monument devoted to a worker in a gloomy front garden to the road made of "yellow brick", leading from the main station to the stadium. In the paving slab there are stars at a distance of each 30 meters with mentioning of this or that important moment of the history of Borussia, from the Champions League win of 1997 to coming back to the Bundesliga at the middle of the 1980s. Thanks to them one may recall that here such a person played as Martin Kree. Do you remember him? If not thanks to the star.

"Baksheesh" at 80 thousand

Dortmund — is a city, one of the few ones in Germany, suffering from nostalgia. Clerks, accountants, managers are united only by Borussia and yellow wall of Westfalenstadion — a famous Southern tribune, which, as it seems in darkness and in the light of projectors, draws to a point at infinity. The fathers of these people, went to matches of Borussia when their working days at the factories were over, and at the matches they just forgot about their overworked backs. And Dortmund, which gradually turned from the industrial into financial center, doesn't want to forget it. And in this case nobody is envious about the football players-millionaires. Rather to the contrary. The example of the same Großkreutz, a boy from the Southern tribune, whose father stood by 9 hours in queue to get tickets, shows that one must not neglect a beam of hope, even if it's narrow and pale. Here it's normal to be distressed for those people, who have managed after all to become a manager of their own lives, may the habits remain the former: to warm up grill at weekend, to take on fuel at the same filling station, as usually, to caress the same neighbor's cat who scratched your hands when you were a child.

Those for whom Borussia is more than Gospel, do not want to believe that if a player kisses the logo on the T-shirt after scoring a goal, he thinks at this moment about the bonus due. Because the day in the middle of the zero years is remembered too well, when each of them was sitting close to the radio set (like the Großkreutz) or eyes glued on the TV, preparing for the end of the world, when no bomb shelters, no magic spaceships will help. And whole families started dancing in their homes, when they got news that Hans-Joachim Watzke had helped the club to avoid bankruptcy.

- It’s hard to know where to start – Watzke says - At the end of the day, revenues were not sufficient to sustain the ambitions of the club officials at the time. If the stadium fund shareholders had not agreed to the restructuring plan, then Borussia Dortmund might not be here today. The lion’s share of our liabilities were due for repayment. Of course, it is quite extraordinary that since the new leadership took over in 2005, we’ve gone on to celebrate two German championships, won the German Cup and even reached the Champions League final in 2013. And not only did we do so without taking on a single cent of new debt, we have also managed to reduce our existing debt by more than 150 million euros. That shows that Financial Fairplay can work. After all, we probably had the worst financial starting point of any club in Europe. And now we are a picture of health!

The neighbor of Duisburg helped Borussia fans not to lose touch with the reality in the current happy times, where people have nothing else but Zebras Weiss Blau. Due to financial problems, Duisburg was driven out to the third league. And now, if the "zebras" ask to play a friendly game, Borussia goes to help its neighbor earn. An only rival which is hard to be named as “friendly” in the region is Schalke 04. Especially when Gazprom took part in their life.

- We have a lot of respect for Schalke 04 as our neighbour and rival, - Watzke stays cool - We would never comment on partnerships entered into by other clubs. On a personal level, we enjoy a great relationship with our main sponsors such as Evonik, Signal Iduna and Puma and are very well-positioned financially through these partnerships.

Borussia can also enjoy a great relationship with it’s head coach Jurgen Klopp who became an inseverable part of clubs successes, unbelievable progress and marketing aspiration as well. One Borussia won him in the contest with HSV from Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen.

- Once again, I only comment on Borussia Dortmund and not on Leverkusen or Hamburg. During our own financial crisis, Michael Zorc and I developed a fundamental football philosophy to suit the club, the city of Dortmund and the people here. We wanted to play fast, attacking, aggressive, emotional and hard-working football. And we wanted to do this with a young team full of potential. One with which the fans could identify. As long as we’re in charge, we will adhere to this philosophy and so we looked for a suitable coach to help implement this and found him in Jürgen Klopp. He had achieved great success on a limited budget at Mainz.

BVB have reached a phenomenal financial result last years. But once Watzke said in Kicker that club has to increase the frames of influence in marketing given that supporters base is limited by Ruhr region. Stadium's lounges cannot be increased as well. And also talked about BVB attempts to tempt english fans because BVB respond to their football culture.

- There is still a good deal of scope to increase turnover as far as marketing and merchandising goes, - confirms Watzke - Borussia Dortmund and the “Real Love” its fans feel for the team and the genuine and authentic we live and breathe football is making waves internationally. We’re experiencing real growth in the USA, in England, in Poland and in many Asian countries. We even have our own soccer school in Tokyo. The Russian market is certainly very interesting. We’ll see how things develop over time. 

Even it’s hard to compete with FC Bayern at this moment the board, coaches and players don't have feeling that they are trying vainly to climb on top again. Losing players is not the matter as well.

- That is just a topic for the media – Watzke says - We said last summer that Bayern would be champions again. They are able to spend 90 million euros per season more than us on the team. Our aims for the season were: direct qualification for the Champions League, getting through the group stages of the Champions League and reaching the German Cup final in Berlin. And we still have all those goals in our own hands. We’ve already achieved our aim in the Champions League. We have our own, realistic aims. We are not going to burden ourselves with unrealistic ambition. And we only define ourselves through our own achievement. If we manage to come second in the Bundesliga, reach the Cup final in Berlin and find ourselves among the best 8 teams in Europe once again, despite having the smallest budget, then it will have been a fantastic season for BVB.

Echte Liebe - true love. It is difficult to recall a more capacious slogan allowing to get a feel, without too much pathos, of the philosophy of the football club that never forgets its main purpose - to entertain people. The veteran Sebastian Kehl can confirm: the only righteous goal a football player coming onto the field in a yellow and black T-shirt has is to arrange a rich entertainment for 80 thousand mates gathering at Westfalenstadion at least twice a month as magazine 11 Freunde has written recently. This is the career goal of a Borussia football player. At least that of Kevin Großkreutz, who does not see himself in any other club of Bundesliga.

- I really like Cologne and the team there, FC Cologne if we are talking about my favorite places beside Dortmund. And of course Glasgow. I’m a huge Celtic fan and have been to several matches there. I got real goose bumps when the fans there recognized me and started chanting my name. Some of the fans I met there still send me text messages after matches. But nevertheless: I am so happy in Dortmund at the moment that I haven’t even thought about any other clubs.

You would understand him easily. Westfalenstadion performs “You'll never walk alone” five minutes before the starting whistle. And tears will certainly well in the eyes of those guests who come there. Yellow metal structures of the arena will just continue the infinity of the South Stand in the black sky, where someone might desperately want to surrender immediately to the glowing rectangle.


Ivan Zhidkov

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