Welcome to Last Word on Football’s ‘Returning Players’ Series. In this edition, we take a look at Germany international, Mario Götze.
The 28-year-old began his career at Borussia Dortmund but, like many others over the years, made the switch to rivals Bayern Munich. Despite the transfer, Götze returned to Dortmund after three years in Bavaria and donned the black and yellow for a further four seasons.
Returning Players – Mario Götze
First Spell at Borussia Dortmund
Mario Götze joined Dortmund’s academy aged eight and spent eight years there before making his senior debut. That came as an 88th-minute substitute in a goalless draw against Mainz. During the winter break, manager Jürgen Klopp promoted Götze to the first team and the midfielder ended the campaign with five appearances.
The following season saw the youngster become involved more frequently. Götze turned out 41 times and scored eight times as Die Schwarzgelben secured the Bundesliga title.
In 2012, Götze penned a new deal with the club which included a €37 million release clause in his contract – something which would later be activated. However, on the field, he continued to impress. He netted seven goals in all competitions and was part of the side that won the domestic double, winning the Bundesliga with a record 81 points before securing the DFB-Pokal with victory over Bayern Munich.
Despite ending the following season without any silverware, Götze had his most prolific season in front of goal. The attacking midfielder netted 16 goals in all competitions with ten coming in the Bundesliga. Three of those goals came in a 5-1 win over Hannover in the DFB-Pokal.
Bayern secured a domestic treble and Champions League, which was won against Dortmund, although Götze missed out through injury.
Teams That Mario Götze Played for in Between
Following their comprehensive trophy haul, Bayern strengthened their squad with the addition of 21-year-old Götze. The Bavarians triggered the German’s release clause and he made the switch, making him the most expensive German player at the time.
Under Pep Guardiola, the German international excelled, and the manager was the main reason for his decision to move. Götze netted a further 15 goals in all competitions, one of which came in a 3-0 win over his former club.
It was a successful maiden campaign in Munich, completing a domestic double with Bayern beating Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal final, before reaching the semi-final of the Champions League. Bayern also won the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.
The following season started just after Götze’s injury-time winner earned Germany the 2014 World Cup. Domestically, it wasn’t as successful as the previous campaign, with Dortmund winning the DFL-Supercup before knocking the Bavarians out of the DFB-Pokal in the semi-final.
Despite a disappointing campaign, Götze still netted 15 goals from 48 outings. His final season would be more joyful in terms of silverware but less so in terms of appearances. Another domestic double was secured alongside reaching the semi-final of the Champions League, but Götze managed just 21 outings as a result of numerous injuries. He ended his tenure at Bayern with 36 goals and 24 assists from 114 appearances, with Guardiola and the midfielder both leaving in the summer.
Return to Dortmund
After three years in Munich, the World Cup winner returned “home”. His return divided some of the Dortmund supporters but he was determined to prove his critics wrong with his displays on the pitch.
Götze provided an assist as Dortmund beat Bayern 1-0 and netted his first Bundesliga goal since his return in a 2-2 draw against Hoffenheim. Despite winning the DFB-Pokal, it was to be a disappointing season for both the player and the club. The midfielder was dropped from the team with a mystery illness, later identified as myopathy – a metabolic disease that can cause fatigue and weight gain.
The diagnoses explained some of his previous injuries and would go on to limit his game time, where he made just 16 appearances for Der BVB on his return.
He featured more often in the coming campaigns but Dortmund were being domestically dominated by Bayern. Der BVB lost 6-0 against their rivals as they eventually finished the season in fourth place, before coming second in the following campaign with another 5-0 thumping against the Bavarians.
His final season at Signal Iduna Park brought a 4-0 loss to Bayern and a second-place finish, but Dortmund did secure the DFL-Supercup.
Götze added a further 14 goals from 103 appearances in his second spell, with his final game in black and yellow coming in a 1-0 defeat to Bayern.
He was released and later joined PSV in the Eredivisie, and ended his Dortmund tenure with 45 goals and 61 assists from 219 appearances. There is no doubt that if it wasn’t for his injuries, he could have gone on to become one of the best players of his generations. Despite that, he will still go down on the list of legends at the Signal Iduna Park.