To Sebastian Kehl: an Ode

This is Sebastian Kehl’s final season in the Bundesliga.

Back in January 2002, Kehl signed for Borussia Dortmund from SC Freiburg. Fast forward to the present day, Kehl has been with Dortmund for a staggering 13 consecutive years.

In his first season (2001/2002) with die Schwarzgelben, Kehl played 15 matches. At that time, his teammates included the likes Lars Ricken, Dede, Sunday Oliseh, and Ewerthon. That year, the 21-year-old Kehl was one of the best players on the team, as BVB finished 3rd in the league table.

Like any long career, Kehl’s time at Dortmund has had its ups and downs, partly due to injuries. For example, Kehl started only three matches during the 2010/2011 season, but played a major role in winning the league the following year as BVB edge Bayern München by three points.

Kehl was also one of Dortmund’s key players the next season as BVB won the Meisterschale. Having started the season fairly poorly, Borussia Dortmund struggled to keep up with the best teams, placed 10th after six matches with ten points.

Enter Kehl.

On match day 7, Kehl started for the first time, at Mainz 05, as captain. Dortmund won 2-1, sparking an impressive winning streak. The team didn´t lose any of the following eleven matches with Kehl playing a decisive part during this streak.

He scored a goal as BVB thrashed 1 FC Köln 5-0. Later, with Kehl as captain BVB went on to win both the away match against Bayern München (1-0) and the decisive derby against Schalke 04 at Signal Iduna Park 2-0. This amazing display of form and results (8 wins, 3 draws) put BVB atop the table.

The first game of 2012 featured Kehl in the starting lineup at HSV as die Schwarzgelben won 5-1. Dortmund went on to win the first six games of 2012, as Sebastian Kehl started all six matches. Seven wins in a row meant a new club record, as BVB went 17 games without losing.

Jürgen Klopp´s attacking tactics paid off, and Borussia Dortmund went on playing some of the best Bundesliga fußball ever seen. A 1-0 win against Werder Bremen secured the club record of 20 consecutive games without, with the captain playing a full 90 minutes.

Playing cat and mouse with 1. FC Köln in the next match, Kehl came in as a substitute 30 minutes from the end in the 6-1 away win.

Nevertheless, during the emphatic 1-0 win against Bayern München at Signal Iduna Park on the decisive match day 30, Kehl played the whole match, never giving in, tackling, and refusing opposing players time on the ball.

In Gelsenkirchen, the Spielführer actually went on to score the winning 2-1 goal against Schalke 04.

As other player come and go, Sebastian Kehl has remained, playing a decisive part in establishing Borussia Dortmund as one of the best teams in the Bundesliga.

Kehl’s time with the club saw the captain shepherding BVB to league titles in 2002, 2011, and 2012, as well as reaching the Champions League final in 2013.

As a defensive midfielder, Kehl’s ability to prevent the other team from creating chances has often been outstanding.

Jürgen Klopp´s successful Gegenpressing tactics are often praised, but their success depends on the defensive prowess of the Nummer Sechs in since there will be counterattacks on BVB’s goal. Kehl has played this usually thankless role reliably for a long time. Kehl’s work helps control the midfield, ensuring that Lukasz Piszczek or Marcel Schmelzer are free to create chances constantly running up and down the wing. Kehl’s play selflessly enables others to shine, like Dede in 2002.

Sebastian Kehl is truly one of the greatest Borussia Dortmund players of all time.

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