By Oliver Trust
BERLIN, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Goals in football can be an answer to many nerve-wracking situations. They can even be a sort of therapy for footballers in dismal times.
Mario Goetze must have had the feeling when the ball crossed the line for the opening goal. The Champions League group match against Legia Warsaw was the 24-year-old's first game in the competition for Borussia Dortmund since returning to the club after three unhappy years at Bayern Munich.
In the end the encounter appeared to be little more than a stroll in the park for the team coached by Thomas Tuchel. Dortmund won 6-0 and was as equally as happy as Goetze after registering a perfect start to the Champions League after returning to the fold after a one year break.
Goetze was joined on the scoring sheet by Sokratis, Marc Bartra, Raphael Guerreiro, Gonzalo Castro and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang.
At present you won't find a footballer in Germany whose popularity rating has dropped as dramatically as Mario Goetze's. Three years ago, Dortmund fans were highly frustrated and upset when Goetze joined rivals Bayern Munich for 37 million euro. The player was accused of having betrayed the club that made him a star. At the same time Goetze did not have the best of starts in the Bavarian capital.
In 2014, he scored the winning goal for Germany in the World Cup final against Argentina. All of a sudden he became a national hero - at the age of 21. But not a hero that was admired everybody. At least from that point on Goetze could not live a normal live anymore. He was treated like a pop star and wasn't allowed much privacy.
Joy and glory did not last long for him as the first unsatisfying year at Bayern Munich was followed by two more. Goetze had to be the man for spectacular goals and memorable moments on the pitch. It was something that was expected of him wherever he went. Once regarded as one of the biggest talents ever in German football, little went right for him. He could not deal with the burden of enormous expectations. His self-confidence almost vanished completely.
First former Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola neglected Goetze, then Guardiola's successor Carlo Ancelotti told him it would be better to move on because he was not going to have a future in Munich. As soon as rumors grew that Goetze could possibly return to Dortmund, protests grew among the club's die-hard fans. The management initiated a campaign to ease tensions and paid 26 million euro for the return of the long lost son - but it hasn't been that successful to date.
Now Goetze made an important step in winning back the hearts of Dortmund's fans by not only scoring a goal but also with an outstanding good performance in his favorite position right behind the center forward Pierre Emerick Aubameyang - a position he never was allowed to play at Bayern Munich.
"All of this is nothing that does not touch him. We can see how intense discussions around him are. You can be sure that is not only good for him. Nobody can imagine how this feels to in the middle of discussions like he is," Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel said. "There are limits exceeded."
His management often acted clumsily. Instead of concentrating on his football and competing against the other members of Bayern's world class squad for a place in the first team, Goetze invented a trademark of his own. A stylishly designed "G" was supposed to stand for a stylish footballer that used every possible social media channel to promote himself. His performance on the pitch at the same time lagged behind his promotion activities. For many Goetze was seen as a fallen star.
Goetze had to go through the hardest time of his still young career. And he still is. It will take many more games like the one in Warsaw before he regains the acceptance that once was his source of strength and trust. But Goetze might recognize that a step by step policy might be much more helpful than anything else. It will take several more weeks for him to get back into top fitness. But that seems to be the only way back to happiness.
When fully fit and firing on all cylinders, Goetze is a key figure in the plan of Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel who had to restructure his squad after Hendrik Mkhitaryan (Manchester United), Ilkay Guendogan (Manchester City) and Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich) all departed.
But the victory in Warsaw was not only important for Mario Goetze - it was important for Tuchel and the entire team. Ousmane Dembele, 2016 European Champion Guerreiro and other youngsters like Julian Weigl and Christian Pulisic were among the best against an overwhelmed opponent.
"I'm extremely happy for Mario after a game like that. I hope everyone could see just how important he will be for us in the future," Dortmund's coach Thomas Tuchel said.
And what about Mario Goetze? The 24 year old did not want to talk much about himself. "It was a great relief for all of us as we had lost our last games in the Bundesliga. I feel well and know things will get better and better," Goetze said.