Welcome to Last Word on Football’s ‘Returning Players’ series. In this edition, we look at German centre back, Mats Hummels.
Unlike the majority of players featured during this series, Hummels has only played for two clubs throughout his career but has made a return to both.
He began his career at Bayern Munich’s academy but managed just one senior appearance. The defender joined Borussia Dortmund on loan before signing permanently for Der BVB, where he stayed for a further eight years.
But in 2016, Hummels returned to Bavaria and rejoined his boyhood club. However, he would once again return to Signal Iduna Park after just three seasons in Munich.
Returning Players – Mats Hummels
First Spells at Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund
Mats Hummels came through the ranks at Bayern Munich, having joined the club at the age of six. He turned out 42 times for the second team, scoring twice, before making his senior debut in 2007.
However, under manager Ottmar Hitzfeld, the young defender was surplus to requirements and was sent out on loan to Borussia Dortmund. He joined in January 2008 and turned out 16 times in all competitions, with injury limiting his game time.
Despite the injury, Hummels joined the club permanently in February 2009 and formed a solid partnership alongside Neven Subotic. Hummels netted five times from 33 outings.
It took three seasons under Jürgen Klopp before the Black and Yellows and Hummels secured a Bundesliga title. The defender was now a mainstay in the Dortmund side and helped the club to the best defensive record in the division.
The following season, Hummels secured a second successive league title as Dortmund won the league with a record number of points. The defender also scored in the DFB-Pokal final against his former club to complete the domestic double.
Despite losing out to Bayern in the following season’s Champions League final, it was another solid campaign on the field from the German defender, but their rivals’ dominance would start to grow.
The league was out of reach but Dortmund would win successive DFL-Supercups before finishing second in Thomas Tuchel’s first season with Die Schwarzgelben, where he made 50 appearances.
Hummels ended his first Dortmund spell with 25 goals from 309 appearances.
Return to Bayern Munich for Mats Hummels
Bayern’s domestic dominance was now apparent. Having secured four successive Bundesliga titles alongside three victories in the DFB-Pokal. Under Pep Guardiola, Die Bayern had failed to reach the final of the Champions League and that would continue in the three years Hummels spent in Bavaria.
His second debut for the club came against his former club, Dortmund, as Bayern won the German Super Cup. He would go on to score three goals from 42 appearances as Bayern secured the league title.
And that was the theme for his entire tenure in Munich. In three seasons, Hummels won three league titles, three DFL-Supercups and one DFB-Pokal.
Hummels made 116 appearances on his return in Munich, scoring eight times, but would once again return to Dortmund.
Return to Borussia Dortmund
Despite the success at Bayern, Hummels returned to Dortmund. “After the talks with the people in charge in Munich and Dortmund, however, it soon became clear to me that my footballing home would again be at BVB in the future,” he said after completing his move.
His final season in Munich may have ended in another league title, but Dortmund were a club back on the rise and had led the division for much of the season, with Bayern only clinching the title on the final day.
His first season back at Signal Iduna Park brought a Super Cup success but another second-placed finish in the league.
This season has been a hit and miss campaign but Hummels has been a key figure for the club, turning out 26 times in the league where he has scored three times.
The 2014 World Cup winner has certainly been a hit at both clubs and enjoyed vast amounts of success, but it is clear that his heart is in black and yellow.