Black and yellow. These two colours infuse life into the soul of Dortmund,a city in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region, known globally as the home ofDie Schwarzgelben (The Black and Yellows) or more popularly, Borussia Dortmund.

On matchdays, theSüdtribune(Southern Stand) hosts the gigantic Yellow Wall, a standing section of 25000 fans, who strike fear and paranoia in the opposition with their vociferous and incessant chanting throughout the 90 minutes.

And it is no surprise to see club legend Marco Reus, a native of Dortmund, reveal it was very much BVB on everyone’s mind during his childhood.

“All we ever thought of was black and yellow,” the Germany ace explains.

Reus’ father was a coach at a local club calledPost SV and he startedoff under his tutelage at the tender age of five as a defender. But soon his attacking instincts blossomed and he started to play in more advanced areas.

After two years in 1996, the ‘offer’ came and Reus secured a move to the Fyouth team of his beloved Borussia Dortmund.

“I had no thoughtsthat 10 or 15 years laterI’d want to play in the stadium,it was too early.Just the thought of coming to training with the BVB crest,travelling to the match, that was huge,” reminisced the Borussia Dortmund skipper.

He played for 10 years in the various youth teams of Dortmunduntil he left for the U-19 team ofRot Weiss Ahlenin the summer of 2006 in search of more playing time.

But the Germany international returned to his boyhood club at the first opportunity in 2012 after a sensational season with domestic rivals BorussiaMönchengladbach.

In his first press conference, he was accompanied by Michael Zorc, another mythical figure in the city’s footballing history.

Zorc also calls the city of Dortmund his ‘home’ and has never played for any other club other than Der BVB.

“Borussia Dortmund are my club and this is my city.We all grew up here and lived the local life.My friends and family are here, my wife is from Dortmund,” stated the man who has been associated with the club for more than four decades with the club; first as a player and then as a sporting director.

His most successful years in the yellow jersey arrived in the twilight of his career whenDortmund were twice crowned German league champions, European champions in 1996-97and also bagged theIntercontinental Cupin the same season.

“He’s an absolute club legend,” stated Reus in admiration of the man whose footprints have been a guiding force for the 31-year-old.

The main difference between Zorc and Reus is the latter’s decision to leave his boyhood club for Rot Weiss Ahlen in search of regular playing time, something the BVB supremo rues to this day.

“They tell me, they didn’t send him away,he just wasn’t happy with theplaying time he was getting.It’s a shame he took this detour.Not because we had to buy himfrom Gladbach for a lot of money,but I would have preferred himto follow a similar path to me.”

In spite of that ‘detour’, Reus is loved no less than Zorc by the Dortmund faithful. Although several clubs tabled big-money offers in an attempt to lure him away, Reus has chosen to stay faithful to the one true love that changed his life at the age of seven.

But his sparkling time at Borussia has been intermittently marred by lengthy injury lay-offs.

He was even forced to withdraw from the 2014 World Cup-winning Germanysquad after he sufferedan ankle injury in the team’s 6–1 warm-up win againstArmenia and has since battled injury problems on more than one occasion.

But each time, he has come back stronger and silenced any doubters with his performances.

On November 24 2016, he came back after 185 days on the pitch after recovering from an abductor injury he suffered at the German Cup final in May 2016, and took the match ballhome (although the third goal was later attributed as an own goal) in a record-breaking 8-4 Champions League win against Legia Warsaw.

“Of course, it gets more difficult each time, we don’t need to talk about it.It always sets you back, no matter what injury you have.But especially when it’s such a tedious one.But at some point, you have to adjust your head and think positively.”

In the 2019-20 season, Reus once again missedDortmund’s last 14 games due to physical misfortune, but the Coronavirus pandemic was a cause of greater concern for the footballer as it had taken a severe toll on hisfellow citizens of Dortmund.

Huge losses were incurred by business houses following strict Covid-19 measures and it almostrung the death knellfor various small and medium-sized enterprises.

“My wife and I sat together and thought about what we could do.We just had the idea to setup ‘Help your Hometown’to help these small and medium-sized companies get through the period.”

Several pubs and eateries have benefitted from the initiative and Reus is further looking to broad base his investments to prevent more organisations from going bankrupt.

The pandemichas also resulted in a cramped footballing schedule and teams across the top five leagues in Europe have to take the field more frequentlythan usual, which means more travellingand less time to spend with family.

Although both Reus and Zorc have reservations against playing at shorter intervals, they have accepted this as their way of life.

“It’s obviously not great. If you’re not at home very oftenin the last four months of the year,not seeing your wife and daughter,it’s obviously not nice.But basically, we’ve become accustomedto being permanently on the roadwhich is what we’ll be, especially in the next few months.That’s just the way it is.We have to accept it, and no-one’s complaining,” stated Reus.

For Zorc, meanwhile, the club has become synonymous with his existence and he would rather travel with the team than idle away his time.

“The schedule is always on the top of my mind,including what you do, how you behave,and that’s how I’ve lived over the years and decades.For ‘normal’ people, life is completely different.When their adrenaline level drops a little on Friday afternoon,for us, it goes up.There is no weekend.

“I’ve spent more time with the clubthan with most of the people around me,perhaps with the exception of my closest family members.Immediately after hanging up my bootsI took up a different careerwhen perhaps other people -and maybe it’s more sensible -have taken a break and found a new direction.”

He acknowledges that it is always good to have fresh blood at the club, but the Coronavirusprompted Zorc to extend his contract with the club for one more year till 2022 as he did not want to leave his beloved BVB amidst this global turbulence.

He has stood by it through every thick and thin, be it a financial crisis, sporting crisis or a bomb attack, and is ready to sail through a pandemic before the final swansong.

If Zorc is tackling the rough waters off the pitch, Reus is ready to so on the pitch.

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