Forgotten glory: The rise and fall of Mario Götze

Mario Götze has no future at Borussia Dortmund
Mario Götze has no future at Borussia Dortmund

German midfielder Mario Götze turns 28 this week. The Borussia Dortmund playmaker finds himself at an age when he should be at the peak of his playing career. He has instead become a forgotten figure destined only to be remembered by former glory.

On Sunday, Götze was an unused substitute as Borussia Dortmund stormed to a 6-1 victory over SC Paderborn 07 in the Bundesliga. Manager Lucien Favre opted to use the increased number of five substitutes during the convincing win after a hectic return to action. However, Götze still remained seated, counting down the remaining days of his second spell at the club.

Contrasting departures

Having already been told that he can leave at the end of the current season, Götze not only has no future at Borussia Dortmund, but it seems he has no present either. The attention offered to his impending departure in the next couple of months will be in stark contrast to the circumstances in which he left for Bayern Munich in the summer of 2013.

Back then, Götze was one of the most highly-rated young talents in the European game. And it was the Bavarian giants who completed the €37 million transfer to make him the most expensive German player ever at that time. The deal was announced in April, just a few weeks before the two teams met in the UEFA Champions League final.

The defining moment as Götze wins the World Cup for Germany
The defining moment as Götze wins the World Cup for Germany

Pep Guardiola would take charge of Bayern Munich that summer. And in his attempt to replicate his successful model at Barcelona, he saw Götze as the perfect figure to play the false-nine role that Lionel Messi had made his own at the Camp Nou. It seemed that Götze's career was very much in the ascendency with Bayern Munich.

However, the moment that will forever define Götze's career arrived the following summer, when he scored the winning goal for Germany in the 2014 FIFA World Cup final victory over Messi's Argentina. Taking to the field late in the game as a substitute, Götze scored the only goal at the famous Maracanã Stadium in extra-time to win the trophy for Die Mannschaft.

On top of the world

At the age of just 22, Götze had produced the moment that millions have dreamt of, but only a handful of players have ever produced. Scoring the winning goal for your country at the World Cup final, at such an iconic stadium, is simply as good as it can ever get in any professional playing career. It is a moment that Götze should always treasure.

But achieving such status at such a young age also brings with it a heavy burden. It is a label that will forever define Götze's playing career and his life when decides to retire from the game. How he chooses to embrace it and use to his advantage in the future will have to wait to be seen. But he can never hide from it, and it only becomes more significant as his career now moves in the opposite direction.

Reality bites

Götze has not played for Germany since 2017
Götze has not played for Germany since 2017

Six summers later, and Götze once again found himself sitting on the bench on Sunday, just like he did at that 2014 World Cup final. Except this time the venue was the humble and empty Benteler-Arena, home to SC Paderborn 07. To put things into context, this is a team playing out their remaining Bundesliga fixtures before they suffer what is now an inevitable relegation.

The 15,000 capacity stadium in the North Rhine-Westphalia is a far cry from the Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro. And it served as a poignant reminder of just how much Götze's career path has altered from that memorable night in Brazil. Drifting out of favour at Borussia Dortmund in the same way that his time at Bayern Munich came to an end does question what future he now has in the German game.

Appearances for Götze at Borussia Dortmund have been limited this season
Appearances for Götze at Borussia Dortmund have been limited this season

While he will forever remain a hero in German football history, it may be time for Götze to consider a move away from his home country. At 28 he still has a lot to offer, but the pressure of his unshakable World Cup tag distorts opinion. It also brings a distinct pressure when playing in front of the same fans who celebrated his career-defining moment like no other.

The last time that Götze appeared for Die Mannschaft was back in 2017. Joachim Löw's team went into the finals of 2018 World Cup in Russia as champions thanks to Götze's goal four years before, but he was not included in the final squad. It may seem harsh, but there is no place for sentiment in football, and Götze simply did not deserve a place.

Focus on the future

Having come through the youth ranks at Borussia Dortmund, Götze made his senior debut as a teenager in November 2009. He was heralded as one of the brightest prospects in the German game over the course of the next few years. Their opinions were vindicated in 2014. But his subsequent failure to ever reach anything like those same heights again reveals more about his character than his ability.

As Götze turns 28, it is concerning that his best years are behind him as he reaches what is widely regarded as the peak age for a player in his position. However, he knows that he can never replicate the high of 2014. And dealing with the psychological aspects of that has seen his club career pass him by over the last few years.

Götze will be forever remembered in German football history
Götze will be forever remembered in German football history

There is a cold and clinical feel to the Bundesliga at the present time with the remaining games of the current season taking place behind closed doors. Götze is likely to be one of the few spectators as he sees out his final weeks as a Borussia Dortmund player, with minutes on the field appearing less and less likely with each passing game.

His next move will be key in restoring Götze's mental focus to the remaining years of his career. His 2014 goal is for others to remember for now, and he has a responsibility to himself to make new moments to savour before his career comes to end. Otherwise, his career will sadly be remembered as nothing more than a quiz question.

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Edited by Zaid Khan
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