After triumphs in 1965, 1989, 2012 and 2017, Borussia Dortmund have now won the DFB-Pokal for a fifth time. This was the fourth time the Black & Yellows have lifted the trophy in Berlin's Olympiastadion. 2021 was an extraordinary win in extraordinary times. The team sent out a message as they ran towards the ''marathon gate'' after the trophy presentation - a message of connectedness to their fans, who normally sit and stand here, but weren't allowed to this year. Because of Covid.
Boris Rupert reporting
"It would be great if we could bring the cup back to Dortmund for the fans," said Marco Reus 24 hours prior to kick-off, while Jadon Sancho was even more emphatic in his words after the league win over Leipzig on Saturday: ''I promised the fans that we'll win the cup for them. This moment is for them,'' said the double goalscorer after the final whistle on Thursday night. The Englishman couldn't contain his pride as he commented on his own performance: ''This moment will stick with me forever.''
A 4-1 win over Rasenballsport Leipzig in a magnificent final, a real advert for the game. High-speed football on the one hand, pace and power on the other. Credit must go to Leipzig for the way they refused to give in despite the three-goal deficit at half-time; even more credit must go to Dortmund for the way they overcame all the adversities thrown their way, both in this game and in the season as a whole. ''I feel a lot of pride because we've come a very long way in the past few weeks and months,'' said Edin Terzic: ''You could not have predicted this in February. We are proud that in May we are cup winners and are still able to qualify for the Champions League!"
Hummels's prediction from February comes true
In February, after a 2-2 draw against Hoffenheim, after another setback on the road to the much sought-after sense of stability, Mats Hummels said something that stood out: ''We want to have a far more proactive and aggressive style of play without the ball. Something like that doesn't just happen overnight. We're working on this in training, and I'm one-hundred percent certain that you'll see it later in the season.''
On Thursday, the Black & Yellows celebrated the seventh successive domestic win. At around 11 at night, captain Marco Reus had the honour of receiving the trophy from the youngsters Nathalie Buse of SV Blau-Gelb Berlin and Luca Gesch of Spandauer Kickers. The very same trophy that BVB legend Aki Schmidt first lifted for the club 56 years ago - the DFB-Pokal.
Reus's magnificent performance had a big part to play in the BVB win. He was involved in all three first-half goals, while for the fourth goal, after mopping up Haaland's defensive header, he played the ball forward to Sancho, who led the counter down the right wing. After sprinting downfield to join the attack, Haaland received the ball from Sancho and shaped up to shoot. He slipped just as he pulled the trigger, and his shot deflected off his standing leg, leaving Leipzig keeper Gulacsi with no chance.
Piszczek's tears of joy
Yes, there was a certain slice of luck involved; Leipzig's Mukiele and Forsberg were both denied by the woodwork. While the veteran Reus and the youngsters Haaland and Sancho shone up front, the experience of Piszczek and Hummels proved vital down the other end. This was Hummels's ninth major final in club football (not to mention the 2014 World Cup final), while Piszczek was playing in his eighth major final and his seventh for BVB. ''Today was a dream come true,'' said the 35-year-old: ''I wanted to end my career by taking something home with me.''
Many tears left his eyes in Berlin, where he has won the DFB-Pokal final with BVB in 2012, 2017 and now 2021 after being on the losing side in 2014, 2015 and 2016. ''That was very emotional. I will keep this in my head for the rest of my life,'' said the man who normally wears number 26 but instead had 29 on his back - Marcel Schmelzer's number. ''It was a gesture for our injured players and for Schmelle in particular. He's been out for a year and couldn't experience this with us.''
Two more wins required
Berlin was the emotional high point of the season. However, there is still work to be done. While the trophy headed to Dortmund, the team made their way to Mainz. That's where the ''Champions League qualification semi-final'' will take place on Sunday evening (18:00 CET). ''Before we came here, we said to ourselves that we'll win the cup and then we'll pick up six points as cup winners,'' stressed Edin Terzic.
Now the team will look to secure their eighth and ninth wins in a row to close out the Covid-affected 2020/21 season.