The tragedy of Robert Enke

Bodo Illgner, Andreas Köpke, Oliver Kahn, Jens Lehmann, Manuel Neuer; the list of Germany’s first-choice goalkeepers over the past three decades reads off like a reel of dynastic succession. Not only is it successively easier on the tongue, it also represents some sort of evolution in the goalkeeping lineage, eventually culminating – for now –…

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Marco Reus and the inescapable void of his career

On 6 June 2014, Marco Reus’s professional life plunged into darkness. Darkness often touches professional footballers, but for this exceptionally blessed German playmaker, it was a darkness that would come to plague the peak years of his career and lead many to wonder what might have been. A week before Germany started their ultimately triumphant World Cup…

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Football, family and fate: the shaping of Granit Xhaka

The year was 1993. Across Britain, radio stations juggled the eclectic sounds of Meat Loaf, Haddaway, Pet Shop Boys, and UB40, cult comedy Groundhog Day arrived in cinemas, Irvine Welsh’s breakthrough novel Trainspotting flew from the bookshelves,, and in the north of Switzerland, in the thriving metropolitan city of Basel, a nine-month-old future football star…

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Günter Netzer: the rebellious loner who became a hero

It was a warm summers day in Düsseldorf on June 23, 1973. The DFB-Pokal final had entered extra time as old adversaries Borussia Mönchengladbach and FC Köln refused to be separated. Gladbach supporters bellowed the name “Netzer, Netzer, Netzer!” and the television commentators seemingly only mentioned him. Gladbach players looked around for their star man to…

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The reawakening of Borussia Mönchengladbach

IT IS PROBABLY FAIR TO SAY that wealthy Bayern Munich’s recent, all-encompassing domination of German football has wrongly eclipsed the achievements of some of the Bundesliga’s other, less well-known sides. Indeed, over the course of the 2014-15 season, the likes of Bavarian side Augsburg and former heavyweights Borussia Mönchengladbach both experienced levels of success that may,…

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