Borussia Dortmund fans had plenty of reason to smile this weekend – and not just because Jürgen Klopp's side picked up three points against FC Augsburg.
When news of Shinji Kagawa's return from Manchester United FC first filtered through on Friday, the BVB faithful's 'FreeShinji' hashtag had finally come to fruition. The Japanese international midfielder, who initially moved to Dortmund for €350,000 in July 2010, has returned to the club on a four-year deal.
"I said when I left Dortmund that Borussia and I were not finished yet," said Kagawa. "Now I'm just happy to be back here with such a great team and its unique fans. BVB are like a family and I'm happy they never forgot about me and that I belong to it once more."
— Nuri Şahin (@nurisahin05) August 31, 2014
Kagawa scored 21 goals in 49 Bundesliga appearances and won back-to-back league titles during his first with the Schwarzgelben. UEFA.com looks back on a handful of his most memorable matches during that stint.
Dortmund 4-0 Qarabağ FK
UEFA Europa League play-offs, August 2010
Better start with a bang, he must have thought. On his Dortmund and European debut, Kagawa contributed two goals in a comprehensive victory against the Azerbaijan outfit. Dortmund fans got their first taste of the agile and industrious Kagawa, who even converted a stunning header despite his somewhat small frame.
Borussia's Südtribüne, the massive southern stand that houses the most enthusiastic supporters, were enchanted by their new whirlwind, but no one could ever have predicted the impact he would go on to have
FC Schalke 04 1-3 Dortmund
Bundesliga, September 2010
Better prove my loyalty, he must have thought. Kagawa had a few lessons to learn after arriving in Dortmund. In one of his first training sessions he walked onto the pitch with blue shoes, but never dared to do it again after his team-mates sat him down for a chat, explaining to him that blue is the colour of the arch rival from Gelsenkirchen.
In hindsight, it may have been the best possible motivation for Kagawa. As if he had something to make up for, the then 21-year-old promised two goals before his first derby and duly delivered. Unsurprisingly, he was hailed as a hero. "It's unbelievable how quickly he has become our focal point," Klopp explained after the match. "We knew he was a great footballer, but we didn't know he would adapt this quickly."
Dortmund 5-2 FC Bayern München
German Cup final, May 2012
Better save the best for last, he must have thought. Kagawa's finest performance came in what was – prior to kick-off – labelled as "the best Cup final ever". It became a mostly one-sided affair, thanks to Kagawa.
After three minutes he finished off a swift counterattack in what had become a signature move for Dortmund, with the tireless Kagawa constantly applying pressure on opponents to recover the ball as quickly as possible. He later assisted their third and initiated the fourth. Sitting in the stands was a certain Sir Alex Ferguson, who then pulled out all the stops to get the player to Old Trafford.
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