There are few football clubs that can boast as passionate a fan base as Borussia Dortmund. DW spoke to BVB's Spanish defender, Marc Bartra, about football, fans, passion - and last April's attack on the team bus.
Few cities combine daily life and the beautiful game quite so seamlessly as Dortmund. The colors yellow and black dominate on the streets, in the pubs and on the city's makeshift playing surfaces. With such enthusiastic fans, it's really no surprise that a former Barcelona player would be happy to make his new footballing home here.
For Marc Bartra, BVB's swift attacking style is obviously a bonus. But the real reason he came to the Ruhr region was because Dortmund is more than just a club. One of the words that best define the Spanish international is loyalty.
DW: What motivated you to move to Borussia Dortmund?
Marc Bartra: Before I came here, I watched a few videos of the fans, of the atmosphere here. I got goosebumps and that was it.
How's your connection with the supporters?
They are very important! I'm convinced that if you give love, you get love back. You always reap what you sow. You have to show confidence during a game. That's how you win the fans' support and that in turn gives you more confidence. Believe in yourself and you will win the supporters' belief as well.
I had a fantastic time in Barcelona. But what I experienced here in Dortmund when I came back from my injury, that really was something new to me. I had a terrible month behind me at the time.
How did you experience that day, April 11, 2017? And did things change in Dortmund after that incident in which you were injured in the bombing of the team bus?
I couldn't believe it. There are no right words to describe it. For the first days and hours, lying in hospital, I tried not to think about it. I wanted to forget just where I was.
Bartra was injured when three bombs exploded next to the team bus before their Champions League quarter-final first leg against Monaco on April 11.
Then I started following events on social media and TV, watching as people supported each other. That really impressed me, when our fans invited Monaco supporters into their homes. Their support really touched me. It's only when you experience really tough times like these that you learn to value the people who support you and who like you. And all that happened during my first year here.
Once I got back out on the pitch, it was amazing. I got goosebumps when all the fans sang my name in unison. After the game I looked at the individual faces and went to the fans. I'll never forget that moment.
How would you describe the typical Dortmund supporter?
The right word would be loyal. Loyal with no strings attached. We've had plenty of winning streaks. But even when we lost two or three on the bounce, or lost against Bayern and let in a bunch of goals, the fans still cheered us on.
You're among Dortmund's favorite players. Especially a lot of young girls wear jerseys with your name.
[Laughs] I don't know anything about that. I really have no idea. That's more of a question for them but I don't think it's a bad thing.
What would football be like without the fans?
Well it wouldn't really be football anymore. It's all the people who love the game who contribute towards the real meaning of football.
Marc Bartra is a Catalan defender who played for Barcelona's youth academy from the age of 11. He played four seasons with Barcelona's senior squad before moving to Dortmund in 2016. On April 11, 2017, his arm was injured when an explosive device hit the BVB team bus, minutes before a planned Champions League quarterfinal against Monaco.