Dr. Reinhard Rauball has been there with Michael Zorc from almost day one. The BVB president pays tribute to a man who has served Borussia Dortmund for 44 years.

Michael Zorc came through our youth system together with Ralf Loose. In the spring of 1979, as the newly elected president of Borussia Dortmund, I sat at a table with the pair of them along with a young Ralf Augustin to discuss their prospects in our Bundesliga team. I thought it would be better for their development if they were to play for another year in our amateur team to get match practice – something which they would not be guaranteed in the Bundesliga. Michael saw the benefits in that. But he was the only one who went down that route. We got together with his mother and signed the first contract.

Michael also took his Abitur [German equivalent of A-levels] that year. I took him to the side at the time and asked if he was really ready for his exams. His response made me feel that I could not send him to training with a clear conscience. I have told him emphatically that the Abitur should take precedence and basically gave him two weeks off so that he could prepare properly. I expected him to come back and tell me that he had done well – and he did.

I remember asking him at the time:

"What did they ask you about in the geography oral exam?"
"The Peruvian irrigation system."
"The Peruvian irrigation system."
"Passed it."

He came back after his two weeks off, and after that, Michael's career was incredible.

When he started his first Bundesliga match on 16 January 1982 and provided an important assist in the 1-0 victory over 1. FC Cologne, who were top of the league at the time, I was doubly pleased. Michael Zorc did it all during his 17 years playing football. Not only was he one of the most reliable penalty takers the Bundesliga has ever seen, but he is also the man who has played the most competitive games for Borussia Dortmund – 572! He was desperate for success, and he dragged everyone else along with him. When it came down to the fight for survival on Whitsunday in 1986, it was Michael Zorc who kicked off the successful comeback in the second leg of the relegation play-off against Fortuna Köln, scoring the goal to make it 1-1.

After successfully avoiding relegation in the end, I lost sight of Michael's journey a little as I resigned as president. When I was elected president for the third time in late 2004, Michael was no longer a player – he was sporting director! And it was his job to pinch every last penny during a very difficult time, which was characterised by a terrible financial crisis. In order to survive, the player budget had to be cut drastically. Michael handled this challenging task with aplomb and, starting with the Jürgen Klopp era, played a key role in helping BVB win the German league twice and the DFB-Pokal three times and reach the Champions League final since then.

Michael Zorc leaves behind something that very few people have been able to match – even outside our club. He has left massive shoes to fill, both as a player on the pitch and as managing director. Michael will go down as one of the true greats at Borussia Dortmund for his top performance both on the pitch and behind the scenes.
Transcribed by Boris Rupert