A banner is merely a banner, nothing more, writes DW's Sarah Wiertz. She argues that despite the apparent hostility among some fans of Borussia Dortmund, Mario Götze would be well advised to return to his former club.
Football fans hold a grudge. This at least applies to those who really put their hearts into the game, fans who are emotionally attached to a particular club, many of whom invest a lot of time and money into supporting their team. We're talking about a team of players who have managed to turn their hobby into their job, earn ridiculous sums of money, and, of course, all want to play for the very best clubs in the world.
Players who started out in their club's youth program are something special for many fans, and these players are considered to be something akin to family. This was true for Mario Götze, who joined Borussia Dortmund in 2001. The technically gifted player made his debut with the Bundesliga side in 2009 - at the tender age of 17. Once loved as a son and revered as an idol by the fans of BVB, the man who scored Germany's World Cup-winning goal in Brazil is evidently now hated by some of them.
"Milan or Madrid, anywhere but Dortmund. Take a hike, Götze!" were the loosely translated words on a banner hung up by some of the Dortmund supporters in the stadium for Saturday's home match against Werder Bremen. The sign was obviously a play on a 1992 quip from former player Andreas Möller, when a reporter asked him which club he wanted to move to. "Milan or Madrid - as long as it is Italy," replied the midfielder, who incidentally, had two spells at Dortmund. After his first stint at BVB, Möller moved on to Eintracht Frankfurt and Italian side Juventus. When he returned to Dortmund, at first he was regarded by the fans as a Judas, but his strong performances on the pitch eventually won them over.
Rumors that Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have already held talks regarding a possible return of Götze to the Signal Iduna Park in the summer have evoked painful memories among BVB supporters. There would be no comparison to the smooth return of Nuri Sahin in 2013 or Shinji Kagawa a year later. The choice of words on the banner is crude, yet it reveals how deeply the fans were hurt when Götze left for Dortmund's biggest sporting rival. It's a good bet that this later turned to schadenfreude, when the national team player found himself warming the bench at Bayern.
If he were to return to BVB, it is reasonable to expect that he would become a key player again. This is obviously mere speculation at this point, and it is also possible that he could opt to join his former mentor, Jürgen Klopp, in Liverpool. In any case, this banner shouldn't have any impact on Götze's career planning. Maybe it is worth making a phone call to Andreas Möller. He dared to "walk to Canossa" and wound up winning two league championships, the Champions League, and the Intercontinental Cup.