Lars Ricken has been at Borussia Dortmund for 30 years now; first as a player, and then as a club official. After extending his contract as youth coordinator, his time in Black & Yellow is now set to continue in the years to come. In January 2021, he will take on the additional role of youth performance centre director. After 12 successful years in charge of the club’s youth work, the contract extension came as a matter of form for Ricken.
''I always wanted to be deeply rooted at this club. I was born here, I’m a Dortmund lad,'' says Ricken, adding: ''My father raised me with a love of BVB.''
In 1990, a 15-year-old Ricken joined Borussia from Eintracht Dortmund. The conditions today’s youth players are familiar with are very different to those Ricken grew up with: ''We used to train on gravel pitches back then. Now we have our own training complex in Brackel - and instead of gravel pitches we have artificial grass pitches with undersoil heating.''
The man who wore the famous BVB jersey for 18 years says that, as a youngster, he ''was happy and proud to wear the Black & Yellow jersey.'' Ricken senses the same feeling among ''his'' boys at the youth performance centre. ''I think the boys that come to us feel incredibly proud to play for Borussia Dortmund.'' On several occasions, he’s experienced how young talents ''jump around the house with joy'' when they get the call from BVB.
The most rewarding thing about his job is ''being able to help young people. Not just help them as players or coaches - in the best of cases to become first-team players at Borussia Dortmund - but also help them in their personal development and create the perfect conditions for their academic education.'' In Ricken’s opinion, ''there is nothing more satisfying than making the youngsters’ goals a reality. There can’t be many jobs that are more fulfilling than mine.''
For the youth coordinator, the most important goal is ''to continue to be extremely ambitious in the sporting education we offer'' and thus to create the basis for ''a high level of ascension up to the first team.'' One of his central tasks is to "teach values" as a preparation for life - in and outside of professional sport. And not to forget: In addition to his sporting ambitions, Lars Ricken always wants to maintain a "family atmosphere" at his work. For him, "a very large part of the heart of BVB beats in Brackel. That's because every person who works for Borussia Dortmund is passionate about their work and identifies with the club.”