Marco Russ – First fighting relegation, then cancer

There’s an awful lot at stake in tonight’s relegation play off match between Eintracht Frankfurt and 1. FC Nürnberg. However, only hours before kick off there’s another bit of news that once again shows why football isn’t the most important thing on the planet.

Eintracht defender and captain Marco Russ has been diagnosed with cancer ahead of the match. Russ had tested positive for the growth hormone hCG(human chorionic gonadotropin) during a routine doping control. Both men and women have a small concentration of that hormone in their bodies, but the highest levels of hCG are usually spotted in pregnant women or cancer patients.

Upon receiving the test results Russ consulted a specialist in internal medicine and a urologist to find the reason for his positive doping test. The national doping agency NADA had already told the defender that his positive test results may have been caused by disease rather than doping. As it turned they were right and Russ has been diagnosed with cancer after further tests were conducted by his physicians.

Ahead of the match against Nürnberg the public prosecution office in Frankfurt have searched both Russ’s hotel room and his house to see if there could be reason to suspect that the player had been using illegal substances to enhance his performances on the pitch. Today the district attorney Nadja Niesen confirmed that no suspicious objects or other evidence had been found during those searches.

Russ – “I’m available to play”

Despite suffering from cancer the defender has been cleared to compete in the relegation play off matches by his doctors. Russ himself has already told the coach that he wants to help the team according to Eintracht Frankfurt boss Heribert Bruchhagen, who told kicker:

“He’s seemingly calm and he told the coach that he feels ready to compete in that match.”

As of now Russ is planning on starting treatment five days after the first relegation play off match. Bruchhagen told Bild that he doesn’t know how the news is going to impact the team:

“In a life within football one gets confronted with a number of issues, but this one hasn’t occurred before, and I can’t really tell how this going to impact the mentality of our players. But, the match is going to be played, it has to be played. All we can expect is that our players are concentrated and they may very well also be playing for Marco Russ.”


After the news broke many Bundesliga clubs decided to show their support for Marco Russ on social media. Even 1. FC Nürnberg decided to send a tweet wishing the player all the best for his recovery. Der Club tweeted:

“Our duels may be very important, but what is even more important is that Marco Russ makes a full recovery. All the best from the bottom of our hearts.”

Even Eintracht’s arch rivals Kickers Offenbach sent a get well soon message to the captain of the Eagles.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.