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A final round of applause from the South stand

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To the applause of the crowd, in bidding farewell before the match against Hertha BSC, sporting director Michael Zorc and former captain Marcel Schmelzer were joined by those BVB players who will definitely leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of this season. Above all, Roman Bürki, Axel Witsel, Dan-Axel Zagadou and Erling Haaland were celebrated.

Already in the dressing room, the BVB players had sent their teammates to the front, who were entering the stadium for the last time today to warm up. Led by Axel Witsel, the players came onto the pitch. During the warm-up, managing directors Hans-Joachim Watzke, Carsten Cramer and Dr Thomas Tress, sporting director Michael Zorc and his successor Sebastian Kehl, as well as club president Dr Reinhard Rauball and his deputy Dr Reinhold Lunow then presented the players with bouquets of yellow flowers and pictures from their BVB careers. In the meantime, their teammates had interrupted the warm-up to applaud loudly, just like the fans, the players leaving the club at the end of the season.

"We would like to thank two impeccable sportsmen for everything they have done for our BVB," said stadium announcer Nobby Dickel as the two Swiss goalkeepers Roman Bürki and Marwin Hitz said goodbye. With loud cheers, the South stand called for Bürki, who ran to the fans and was celebrated by them for seven years in Black and Yellow colours. He then made his 233rd BVB appearance and was allowed to play in front of the South stand for the last time. The Swiss international goalkeeper had moved to Germany in the 2014/15 season and joined SC Freiburg. A year later, Bürki moved to BVB, where he succeeded long-time goalkeeping icon Roman Weidenfeller and went on to win the DFB Pokal twice. Now the 31-year-old will join St Louis City SC in North America's Major League Soccer (MLS). "It has been an honour to have played a total of seven years with this great club. I will always remember not only the cup victories in 2017 and 2021, but all the good and difficult times we experienced together," Bürki said.

Marwin Hitz joined BVB in 2018, and over the past four years the goalkeeper has made 46 appearances for the Black & Yellows. He became first-choice goalkeeper from the end of February 2021 before an injury halted that run in the team against Leipzig in May 2021, which also prevented him from playing in the DFB Pokal final.

Erling Haaland didn't miss out either and went to the South stand to do the wave with the fans. He had arrived from Salzburg in January 2020 and has since set numerous goal scoring records. In 89 games for the Black & Yellows he scored 86 goals, an impressive record. The young Norwegian had already made a historically impressive Bundesliga start: On his debut on matchday 18 of the 2019/20 season, in BVB's 5-3 away win in Augsburg, he became the first substitute in Bundesliga history to score a hat trick; after two games he had notched five goals and after three games he had seven goals to his name (both Bundesliga records). For these seven goals he needed only eight shots - also a record. And: Haaland is the first BVB player to score on his debut in the Bundesliga as well as in the DFB Pokal and the UEFA Champions League. In the 2021 Cup final, he contributed two goals to the win. Now he is moving on to England to join Manchester City.

"Two really great guys are leaving our BVB!" said Dickel about Dan-Axel Zagadou and Axel Witsel, who were also both called for by the fans in the South stand. Witsel is also leaving as a cup winner. The midfielder had joined Borussia Dortmund in August 2018, making 145 appearances and scoring 13 goals. After his arrival from China, Witsel needed exactly zero time to arrive in Germany, in Dortmund, in the Bundesliga and to take on the leadership role he was meant to assume. Of all BVB outfield players, he enjoyed the most playing time in 2018/19 (2873 minutes spread over 33 games) and was on the ball an average of 87 times per 90 minutes. The 33-year-old played the most passes and never had a unsuccessful passing rate worse than six per cent in the course of his four BVB years.

Dan-Axel Zagadou had been under contract at Borussia Dortmund since July 2017, and the 22-year-old Frenchman had previously been in the youth system at Paris Saint-Germain. In addition to his impressive physique and physical presence, his uncanny calmness on the pitch stands out. The defender played in 92 games (4 goals) for BVB across all competitions and also won the DFB Pokal in 2021. Many injury interruptions have prevented many further appearances. 

Reinier's loan ends after two years. The 20-year-old Brazilian was loaned from Real Madrid in August 2020 and has since played 39 games (one goal) for BVB. In his very first season, the former captain of the Brazilian U17 national team won the DFB Pokal.

Marin Pongracic has played for Borussia Dortmund on loan since August 2021. The central defender made 23 appearances for BVB and is now returning to VfL Wolfsburg.

Christina Reinke