Borussia Dortmund players showed an unbreakable spirit in returning to the field of play 24 hours after an explosion hit their team bus and injured defender Marc Bartra, ultimately falling to Monaco in the two sides’ UEFA Champions League first-leg clash, 3-2.
After the game, various Dortmund players and manager Thomas Tuchel spoke of the emotions they were forced to deal with since Tuesday evening and through the 90 minutes at Signal Iduna Park. Some of the quotes are… heartbreaking, and should serve as a reminder that at the end of the day, footballers are human being just like the rest of us.
The decision to reschedule the fixture on such a short turnaround was clearly an issue for everyone associated with the club, as UEFA made the decision without consideration for their mental state.
Defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos — quotes from ESPN FC:
“I am happy first that I am alive. It was the most difficult day that I have lived in my life and I hope that nobody else has to live this day. After yesterday I don’t have any more space to think about the game.
“They [UEFA] have to understand that we are not animals. We are people who have families, who have kids in the house. And we are not animals. I am happy that all the players are alive, and all the staff are alive.
“It is very difficult today to think to go and play football. For everybody, it is very difficult to go to work after yesterday. I hope that what happened to us, never happens to anyone else. I hope that was the last time.”
“We will speak with our president and with our coach. But we don’t have any solutions. I feel like what I said before: I feel like an animal and not like a person. Who doesn’t live this can’t understand how big it was for us.”
Midfielder Nuri Sahin — quotes from ESPN FC:
“It is hard to talk about it and hard to find the right words. We saw a lot of times on TV and it was far away from us, even when it was in Istanbul which is in my country.
“Last evening we felt how it is to be in this situation. I don’t wish a feeling like this on anyone. I don’t know if people can understand this but until I was on the pitch in the second half I did not think about football to be honest.
“Last night I didn’t realise what happened and when I got home my wife and son were waiting in front of the door I felt how lucky we were. I know football is very important, we love football, we suffer with football and I know we earn a lot of money and have a privileged life but we are human beings, there is so much more than football in this world, last night we felt it.
“When I was on the bus last night, I can’t forget the faces, I will never forget those faces. I sit next to (Marcel) Schmelzer and I will never forget his face. It was unbelievable.”
Tuchel — quotes from the BBC:
“UEFA is eager to continue playing. Of course we have to keep it going, but we still want to be competitive. We do not want to use the situation as an excuse.
“We wished we would have had more time to deal with what happened, but someone in Switzerland decided we must play.”
“We let the players choose if they wanted to play. But this morning, we found that the training had done good, that it had made us think of something else.
“Everyone has their own way of reacting to events. The players had the choice not to play, but no one chose this option.”
UPDATE: UEFA have issued a statement in response to Tuchel’s claim that Dortmund weren’t consulted with regards to the decision to play the game on Wednesday.