In a week containing a record turnover, an outstanding start to the campaign and several important personnel switches, Norbert Dickel's anniversary almost slipped under the radar. The "Hero of Berlin" and former frontman has now been BVB's stadium announcer for 25 years, having begun the job a few years after retiring as a player.
It was on 15 December 1989 – a rainy Friday evening in Düsseldorf's Rheinstadion – that Norbert Dickel hung up his boots. It was a befitting end too, with the forward notching his 50th and final goal in Black & Yellow in the 90th minute as Borussia Dortmund salvaged a point in a 1-1 draw with Fortuna.
He made 108 appearances in a Borussia Dortmund shirt, scoring exactly 50 goals. The name Dickel has since become synonymous with the early days of BV Borussia 09's sporting renaissance.
Having narrowly escaped relegation in the play-offs in June 1986, Borussia Dortmund bolstered their strikeforce by signing Norbert Dickel from 1 FC Köln and Frank Mill from Borussia Mönchengladbach in the off-season. They finished fourth the following year and then, on 24 June 1989, beat Werder Bremen 4-1 to claim the DFB Cup title. Norbert Dickel made a fantastic comeback from a six-week spell on the sidelines with injury that day, equalising the scores at 1-1 and later putting BVB 3-1 up.
Unfortunately, he was having knee trouble. He struggled through rehab, spending countless hours zipping up and down the motorway to see specialists. He made six further appearances before finally calling it a day on 15 December 1989, finishing with an outstanding tally of 50 goals in 108 games.
Following brief spells as a salesman of driving drums for conveyor belt systems, then for fitted kitchens and finally a job with a sporting goods manufacturer, Norbert Dickel's second BVB career began on 22 August 1992. He replaced Bruno "Günna" Knust, back then and still today a hugely popular and successful entertainer, and quickly continued where his predecessor had left off. Dickel is irreplaceable, a cult figure. We sing "Norbert, Norbert – Norbert Dickel: Everyone knows him, the Hero of Berlin" at home games. It is a ritual that has now been repeated in the South Stand on 425 occasions. And that's only counting Bundesliga games. Dickel, who is now in his mid-fifties, can do many things – but there's one thing he doesn't do: tone it down. "And here is the Borussia Dortmund team line-up," he calls – or rather, roars – into the microphone. "In goal, number 38 Roman..."
Dickel recently celebrated his 25th anniversary as stadium announcer. He has only missed one match in that quarter century, when he was suffering from a severe cold. "I still regard it as a great honour to have this job," said Nobby, adding: "I am just as nervous before every match as I was before the first one." His service was acknowledged by President Dr Reinhard Rauball and applauded by the fans before the recent home game with Hertha BSC.
But there's much more to Dickel's job description than two lots of 45 minutes plus matchday activities at home games. When he first started back in 1992, the concept of "marketing" didn't exist in Germany. Nobby, though, was quick to catch on, identifying sponsors and cultivating contacts. "Being the stadium announcer is actually just a small part of my job," explained the presenter of "BVB total!", Borussia Dortmund's TV channel. In addition, he often represents the club on the road and has been the voice of BVB's Net Radio for the past 18 years.