Borussia Dortmund tap European hero as sporting exec

football22 April 2024 13:55| © AFP
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Lars Ricken © Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund on Monday named Lars Ricken as their new sporting executive tasked with leading the club back to the top of German football.

Ricken, who scored an extraordinary goal in Dortmund's 1997 Champions League final victory over Juventus, will join the board on May 1.

"I am sure that with the incredible power of this club and the passion of our many motivated employees, we will achieve great victories together," Ricken said in a statement.

Just 16 seconds after coming on as a substitute in the 1997 final, the midfielder lobbed Juventus's goalkeeper to make the game 3-1 and seal the win for the Germans.

Besides his European heroics, Ricken has distinguished himself with his work as the boss of Dortmund's academy since 2021.

Ricken's "expertise, his large network and his enormous identification with his home club" would be extremely valuable in the job, Dortmund president Reinhold Lunow said in the statement.

The new man takes over from longtime CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke, who announced earlier this year that he would be stepping down from the role.

Watzke will keep responsibility for "personnel, communications and strategy" until his definitive exit from the board at the end of 2025.

Dortmund have known ups and downs under Watzke, who oversaw the club's success during the tenure of former coach Jurgen Klopp.

Over seven years, Klopp took Dortmund to back-to-back league titles and the final of the Champions league, where they lost to archrivals Bayern.

Since the last of those two titles in 2012, Dortmund struggled to dethrone the Bavarian giants, who put together a run of 11-consecutive Bundesliga trophies.

The task was finally achieved this year by Bayer Leverkusen, who stormed unexpectedly to their first ever league title.

Dortmund were held 1-1 over the weekend by Leverkusen, who extended their unbeaten run to 45 games.