UEFA Champions League winners 16 years ago but off the top table of European football in recent seasons, Borussia Dortmund will complete the "most fantastic story of all" should they defeat FC Bayern München in Saturday's showpiece.
Those are the words of Mats Hummels, Dortmund's universally revered young centre-back who has been crucial to his team's unexpected march to Wembley. German international Hummels has appeared in ten of Dortmund's 12 UEFA Champions League games this term but looked in danger of missing the biggest fixture of all when he limped off against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim last weekend with an ankle injury.
"Yes, [I'm fit]," said Hummels at Friday's press conference. "Fortunately the scare was a lot worse than the actual problem. My foot isn't quite as it was but it's in order for a match and I hope I'll be able to get through the last job of the season. On Sunday I realised it wasn't as bad as I thought and when I realised I was going to be fit, I was so, so happy."
It is fitting that Hummels is available for Dortmund, because his is a tale that has gone hand in hand with the club's. Lacking in experience upon his arrival in the Ruhr, the 24-year-old has matured alongside similarly aged team-mates under the expert tutelage of coach Jürgen Klopp. Dortmund picked up successive Bundesliga titles in the past two seasons, but this – an all-German UEFA Champions League final at Wembley – is the pinnacle.
We've got a fantastic opportunity because this team has been growing for a number of years,” said Hummels. "It's the most fantastic story of all and we're not thinking about losing. This is the biggest opportunity we've had so far as a team; that's what we thought about in the semi-finals and the quarter-finals. This was a huge motivation for us."
Rewind to 1997 and Dortmund were in the same situation – Munich the venue, rather than the opponents, on that occasion. "1997 was fantastic for Dortmund, it was tremendous," said Dortmund captain Sebastian Kehl. "There are a few parallels with 2013 but they're both exciting.
"The two teams know each other well, we know how the other plays and I'm sure it'll be decided by little things – like if people don't pay attention," continued the midfielder. "The teams know how to play each other, so there won't be any big surprises. The team that wins will be the one that goes for it and is bold – we do that so let's see."
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