Home-grown stars put Dortmund on map
Newly-crowned Germans champions Borussia Dortmund are hoping to keep hold of their home-grown stars after their young guns dominated the season under the guidance of coach Jurgen Klopp.
Dortmund's 2-0 win over Nuremberg on Saturday handed Borussia their seventh German league title and puts Klopp's team in the UEFA Champions League having led the Bundesliga since October. Their eight-point lead means they can not be caught with two games left.
In the Ruhr valley city, 100,000 fans partied into the early hours of Sunday morning to celebrate their first title since 2002. But some of the happiest Dortmund fans had been celebrating on the pitch.
Teenage midfielder Mario Goetze, 18, is the son of a professor at Dortmund's technical university while fellow Germany team-mate Kevin Grosskreutz, 22, is a Borussia fan who was watching from the terraces just two seasons ago. "It's an outstanding feeling to achieve this with my club in the city where I was born," beamed Grosskreutz. "Two years ago, I was still on the south terrace and went as a fan to the away games. This is amazing."
He certainly allowed the success to go to his head. Having vowed last October to skip the barbers until Dortmund were German champions, Grosskreutz allowed himself to be shaved bald on the pitch in front of 80,000 fans once his side were confirmed title winners.
In just his third season in charge, the team Klopp assembled suddenly came of age with Turkey midfielder Nuri Sahin and rising Germany star Goetze helping produce some eye-catching football. The results have been impressive as previous champions Bayern Munich were beaten both home and away while only Bayer Leverkusen posed a serious threat to Dortmund's domination of the league.
The squad was assembled with an annual budget of €35 million and many come from the surrounding Ruhr valley. "The title is fully deserved and everyone in Germany, Europe and perhaps even the world can see that," said Sahin, who also hails from western Germany.
Dortmund's success has been acknowledged by Germany coach Joachim Low with a group of rising stars being promoted to the senior national side. Defenders Mats Hummels and Marcel Schmelzer, plus midfielders Goetze and Grosskreutz have all played for Germany this season - and have all been handed contract extensions by Borussia until 2014.
The Ruhr valley club are optimistic of keeping their stars for next season after the club's director of sport Michael Zorc said reports Real Madrid are interested in signing Sahin are unfounded. "When and if the issue arises, we will concern ourselves with it, but for now, that is not the case," Zorc told German television channel Sport1.
Klopp, 43, has also been signed up until 2014 and the coach who nearly joined Bayern Munich in 2008 has watched his team mature under his mantra "new start every day".
Despite seeing their 12-point lead at the start of March slip to just five points towards the end of April, Dortmund kept their nerve and conceded just 19 goals all season and four league defeats. The challenge will be to defend the title and impress on the Champions League stage while Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa showed plenty of promise with eight goals in 17 games before a foot injury kept him out of the team.
But for now Dortmund's fans are eager to enjoy their moment. "This is even more beautiful than Kate (Middleton)" joked one fan, drunk on success in reference to Britain's royal wedding the day before his side won the title.