Dortmund and the beauty of football

Posted by Stephan Uersfeld

No words, no pictures, no TV footage. Football. Twenty-two lads chasing a ball and, as Gary Lineker knows, in the end, the Germans win it.

On Tuesday night at Dortmund's Westfalenstadion, Germans might have won the game but football won much more than that, not least because of the Malaga supporters' post-match reactions.

"Football, bloody hell" -- Sir Alex Ferguson

Football, you beauty! A love that is so much stronger than everything you will ever witness in your lifetime. Football, take a look at that kid, barely grown up, standing in the Westfalenstadion. All alone. His head hidden between his arms, his eyes flooded with tears, staring into the vomitory, staring and full of disbelief.

Football, you beauty! Look at the Malaga supporters -- gobsmacked and graceful. Watching Roman Weidenfeller approaching. Slowly. Then shaking his head. Bewildered. Applause where there should be silence. Applause where there should be emptiness. Dignity where there could be hate.

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Football, you beauty! All you needed was two teams having the time of their lives, the best stadium in Europe and a set of officials all in favor of making it happen. Offside? Onside? Who cares if he can make it happen?

Football, you beauty! Have you noticed that grumbling old man? Having more than a go at his very own team after some twenty minutes. "That's," he shouts "typical stuff. They don't run, they don't fight and that pass, this guy should have never played." He is up on the stands, the guy next to everyone else. You do understand? Ok, let's hand the opposing team the lead. With a fabulous build-up play. Let's do that? Yes!

Good one. You know how to tackle a problem. And the problem is that, old man. The one with the brown jacket. Take your time, football. Let him last for a bit longer. Then you have to set up this play. Gotze, Reus, Lewandowski. That'd be nice. Have them win the ball somewhere on the halfway line, have Gotze pass to Reus. A back-heel pass? Add the no-look element. That guy needs to score, that greedy kid from Poland. Make it 1-1 at halftime but be sure to end the first half with Joaquin, playing in a different league. Free kick? Header? Weidenfeller save! 1-1 halftime.

Football! Don't you love it? The unbeaten darkhorses against that side from Spain that nobody cares about and who have the most passionate fans you could think of. Since they know the ride to Dortmund -- the ride to the quarters -- is a once-in-a-lifetime ride. Will not happen again! Never! Spanish TV does not even care to put it on. Real instead. Who hold a 3-0 lead from the first leg. What happens there is another story.

Halftime. Silence. Forty-five minutes to go. And nothing happens. Malaga sitting back, waiting for the counters, Weidenfeller keeping Dortmund in the game, Reus and Gotze both missing chances. Not the best football you will ever see. Malaga are outstanding. Defending the draw, those little stitches not hurting, but maybe anytime soon.

Football, you beauty! That guy? Remember him. The one who pitied himself for being in the stadium, for witnessing the worst football ever, who asked for refund and whom you were not able to silence? Let him go. Let him leave. He has no right to be part of the next couple of minutes.

Suddenly those little stitches turn into the worst hit you will ever take. 1995, 1996-1997 is 2011, 2012-2013. All that you have been dreaming of for the past few weeks. Everything has been taken away from you in the league. But you did not care. As long as the dream of history repeating was still intact. No longer. Not after Craig Thomson interprets the offside rule like no other before him and hopefully not after him. Malaga are 2-1 up. And, despite Thomson, they deserve it. And the supporters, who have been celebrating in Dortmund throughout the day. Celebrating their team, their lives and football.

Football, you beauty! You will not forget about Mr. Jurgen Klopp. "For 90 minutes all that has to matter is that game of football," he said on Monday. Maybe aware of what was to come during those last four minutes of football on that night in Dortmund.

Reus. Reus. Reus. Scoring. Finally. But too late. Way too late to change anything. Dortmund will leave the competition unbeaten. Now that is a headline. Now that is something to be proud of. Europe's hottest team. Dream died. But still: Unbeaten! Put it on the away goal rule. Blame Thomson. Blame the team. But everyone interested in blaming anyone for anything disappeared. Football -- no blame!

Football, one final twist, please! Like United against Bayern, like Liverpool taking Milan, like Ricken against La Coruna in 1994. You have done it before. You can do it again. Lewandowski into the box. Something happens and in slow-motion Santana gets the ball over the line. Over the line! And into the back of the net. Delirium. Santana? Santana! On the ground, Dortmund players above him. Schmelzer sliding into the ball. The final whistle. It is over. 3-2.

Thank you, football! For making this happen. Thank you! For a night beyond words. For another lesson in what you can achieve. And making Borussia your example of your powers. And even more: Thank you for this day of football. Malaga supporters. Gobsmacked, but full of dignity. You don’t see a lot of it these days.

This is football and this night will stay forever.

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