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Borussia Dortmund

Roman Weidenfeller: Gentleman, leader, ambassador - one of Borussia Dortmund's undisputed greats

04:51 GMT 05/05/2022
In an exclusive interview with GOAL, the German discusses his enduring love for BVB

Roman Weidenfeller is one of the undisputed greats of Borussia Dortmund. Standing at six foot three inches, Weidenfeller was renowned for his consistency, leadership and his quick reflexes.

Weidenfeller built a phenomenal career with BVB, winning two Bundesliga titles, two DFB-Pokals and reaching a Champions League final in 2013 in the process. The former Germany international also has a FIFA World Cup medal to show during his stay with the Black and Yellows, having been part of Germany’s World Cup winning side in 2014.

A born leader, a fantastic goalkeeper and a nice guy to boot, Weidenfeller did it all and saw it all with Dortmund.

Weidenfeller is widely regarded as one of the most important players in Dortmund’s history, being there through some lows and notorious highs, especially during Jurgen Klopp’s heyday in the early 2010s - and his connection with BVB, its supporters and the whole culture of the club as a whole is ever-present, as you can tell by his thoughts on the current season.

“This season has been a bit complicated,” Weidenfeller said in an exclusive interview with GOAL.

“The Bundesliga is in a weird place. Twelve points behind Bayern Munich, but five points in front of Leverkusen, so it is positive that we are staying in the Champions League, but it is also negative because we’re not so close to Bayern Munich,” he added.

Much like Weidenfeller has said, it’s been a topsy-turvy season for BVB thus far. While they have been stable in the Bundesliga, constantly in the places to qualify for next season’s Champions League. But that doesn’t stop the former shot-stopper from having his own favourite moments in the season.

“It’s not easy to pick one this season. Maybe one of my favourite moments of this season was the game against [Borussia] Monchengladbach at Dortmund, which we won 6-0.

“But the highlight of the season is the fans coming back to the stadium. This is the biggest highlight of the season. First time in two years that the Signal Iduna Park was sold out, so I’m very happy for the people and that they can come to the stadium and celebrate together. It’s one of those fantastic moments of this year,” he explained.

Developing talent has always been a major theme at BVB, and it is no different this year. The club is constantly trying to search and sign some of the most promising youngsters in football and give them a platform where they can grow, develop and evolve as a whole. It is a system that has proven to be quite beneficial and profitable for Dortmund and, according to Weidenfeller himself, would continue that way in the coming months.

“We now bought Niklas Sule (from Bayern Munich) in defence as well as Nico Schlotterbeck. And then we would like to check the situation with [Karim] Adeyemi and perhaps we can do something with a couple of other players as well.

“But the focus in the last few weeks was with the youth team because they had some really good performances. They scored a great goal in the game against Wolfsburg. Tom Rohte and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens have been exceptional.”

One of the strongest elements of Borussia Dortmund as a football club is their relationship with the fans and this is shown time and time again at the Signal Iduna Park, with the Yellow Wall and the intense support they get every single game. And considering their efforts to branch out to the Asian market with the documentary series ‘Who We Are’, it is clear that Asia is a priority for Dortmund.

“We have a lot of means to engage with fans via social media so we are active with the people in Asia, and hopefully, we can keep in contact with the fans over there.”

“Every time we go visit Asia, it is amazing to see so many people enjoying football played in Germany and the Bundesliga, especially because a lot of them support Borussia Dortmund. I think we are a really big brand in Asia and, for me, this is wonderful and good to see.”

Having claimed almost every accolade possible in Germany throughout his career, it was interesting to hear his thoughts on the best ways to reach the very top.

“Work for your dream and work hard. Work every day to get the best out of your performance and be a little bit stronger to be better every day. As for goalkeeping advice, the most important thing is that the ball doesn’t go in. That’s the most important part of a goalkeeper’s job. And then, of course, it’s the technique, it’s the feet, playing in service to the defence while you’re behind them.”

The German keeper has become a symbol of the club’s resurgence in the last decade or so and part of that was not only his outstanding quality in his role but also his leadership, to the point that he became the club’s captain and remained in that position until his retirement in 2018. So it’s quite obvious that he has seen and lived a lot of great moments at the Signal Iduna Park stadium.

Moments such as becoming the club’s captain on the pitch during the title-winning season in 2010/11 or saving Arjen Robben’s penalty to retain said title in 2011/12 are just a handful of occasions where Weidenfeller displayed his leadership and quality to help BVB to be successful after years of struggle. And his love for the supporters is ever-lasting.

“For me, it was the stadium. It was the most beautiful stadium I ever played in. It was always noisy and we always had the 12th man behind us, and for me, it was always a very fantastic feeling to play there.”

“As for my favourite trophy, I won two championships, two DFB Pokals and that final in the Champions League against Bayern Munich. And all those matches against Real Madrid or against Malaga were such wonderful times and feelings as well.”

Winning the World Cup is definitely every player’s dream and Weidenfeller got to experience just that in 2014, fulfilling a key moment in his career. When quizzed on his favourite moment with his national team, it didn’t take long for Weidenfeller to state the obvious.

“My dream came true when we won the World Cup. I was really nervous to win this cup, I had a chance to win it and it was fantastic. It was one of the best days of my life.”