When Borussia Dortmund were defeated so late into the Champions League final at Wembley in May, many neutrals saw it as the end of a fantastic few years for the German club.
Two German league titles, a German Cup victory, not to mention a Champions League final appearance indicated a fantastic return under the reign of Jurgen Klopp. A team built on low-costing signings that matured into world-class talent had in many eyes gone as far as they could as a team.
The rise in success for the German saw a subsequent rise in interest for the players who had played their part in Dortmund's success. The first sign of which arrived in 2012, when Shinji Kagawa was lured from Signal Iduna Park to Old Trafford when he signed for Manchester United. But Dortmund immediately sought to replace the void left by Kagawa's departure by signing the talented Marco Reus from Borussia Monchengladbach.
Despite the arrival of Reus, the team he turned down to re-join Dortmund were ready to react following Dortmund's success. Bayern Munich had watched as Dortmund had captured back-to-back league titles, and were also powerless to prevent Die Borussen from outclassing them 5-2 in the 2012 German Cup final. But 2012-2013 saw Bayern stop the honours heading to BVB on three fronts.
Munich under Jupp Heynckes stormed to the Bundesliga crown, losing only once all season, scoring 98 goals and conceding just 18 in 34 games. Klopp and his side were powerless to stop the Die Bayern in their title assault, ending the season 25 points adrift. They also ended Dortmund's defence of the DFB-Pokal, Arjen Robben's goal sending the champions out of the German Cup and sending Bayern on their way to their eventual cup win.
Then the Champions League final at Wembley also went Bayern's way, finishing off the first treble in German football history. Bayern were on top, had outclassed Barcelona in the semi-finals and were soon to see a new face enter the Allianz Arena hotseat. For all of Heynckes fantastic work in the 2012-13 campaign, his replacement came with his own credentials, former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola.
To add insult to injury, Dortmund were powerless when Bayern met the contract release clause of star playmaker Mario Gotze, the signing, agreed before the Champions League final could have made for a peculiar situation occur at Wembley, if it was not for Gotze being ruled out with injury.
Gotze was not expected to be the only BVB star making the move down south to Bavaria, Robert Lewandowski had also signalled his intention to follow his Dortmund teammate. The difference being here that Dortmund were allowed to show their resolve, with no clause in his contract, Lewandowski remained put, although a move to Bayern Munich remains a high possibility next summer, when the prolific Pole becomes a free agent.
Other key players were linked with moves away, Gundogan to Arsenal, Hummels to Barcelona to name a couple, but the names stayed and others arrived, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from St. Etienne, Dortmund showed the power by beating five-time European champions Liverpool to the signing of Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Shakhtar Donetsk as well as the signing of Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Werder Bremen.
Dortmund also showed no signs of watching Bayern Munich running away with all honours by defeating Bayern Munich in the German Super Cup, a 4-2 win giving BVB the first bragging right of the new campaign.
Although players such as Lewandowski, Gundogan and Hummels may one day reach for pastures new, to test themselves at another level or to even earn wages on a par with some of Europe's elite, there is one man that will keep Dortmund fighting until the day he leaves, Jurgen Klopp.
Enigmatic, passionate, infectious, and a little bit crazy would be the descriptive cocktail to define Jurgen Klopp, but these words also go along with his ability not only as a manager but also as a motivator, for the former Mainz manager is a leader, a manager in which players will work that extra ten percent harder for. It is not only the players who have taken to Klopp, for Klopp epitomises what BVB is about - plainly put Klopp is adored at the Westfalenstadion.
Arriving in 2008, Klopp inherited a squad that had finished in the lower reaches of the Bundesliga the season previous, he arrived at a side that just three years previously had been close to bankruptcy, and sought to improve their fortunes. Channeling his charisma and passion onto his players on the pitch, Dortmund became more efficient, harder working and became lethal on the counter attack, signing players with potential and moulding them into stars, Klopp has given the people of Dortmund a side that they can be proud of.
Klopp had previously stated that he has no intention to leave BVB in the duration of his contract - a commitment echoed in his previous stint at Mainz, giving seven years to the club as manager after spending 12 years there as a player - it was expected that he would leave at the end of his contract in 2016. It shows that loyalty is a large part of his making, that he would want to repay the faith given to him by those in charge at Dortmund.
Loyal to those who are loyal to him, Klopp enjoys a close relationship with Hans-Joachim Watzke (chief executive), Michael Zorc (director of football) and Christian Cramer (marketing director). It is this cohesion with those in power at the club that makes Klopp such a good fit for Dortmund, and Dortmund a good fit for him.
Klopp himself has expressed a desire to one day - quite like his players - experience a new challenge, but that day has been moved slightly further back, with Klopp signing a two-year extension to his current contract just last week, keeping him at the club until 2018.
While Jurgen Klopp remains in charge at Dortmund, it is hard to imagine that they will not remain competitive, despite however much more money Bayern has available, or how teams abroad can offer his best players money that is unimaginable at Dortmund, a club that will not live beyond its means, in fear of repeating the days of the late 20th and early 21st centuries when many were not sure how long Dortmund would survive.
It goes without saying though, that one day, the grinning manager will want to test himself elsewhere; he has the personality which would be adored by fans of the Premier League, a personality which would leave the nation's media wanting more. His suitability to English football has been hinted at, with Klopp himself describing his side's style of play as 'English'.
Klopp may or may not remain in Dortmund until 2018, but when the time comes for the German to leave Die Borussen, Watzke and Zorc will find it near on impossible to replace a man like Klopp, because he is truly one of a kind.
For now though, Klopp and Dortmund remain together, charged with the mission of regaining the Bundesliga crown from Bayern Munich. They currently lie just one point behind the reigning champions, but have been far more convincing than the transitional Bayern, who are yet to truly find their feet under Guardiola.
For those predicting a continued dominance for Bayern may want to reassess their claims. For this Dortmund side have no intention of standing back, it is not the Klopp or Dortmund way.
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