Eintracht Frankfurt has the pot! After a passionate fight against Glasgow Rangers, the Hessians celebrate the greatest triumph in the club's history for 42 years. Captain Sebastian Rode will once again become the symbol of the self-sacrificing journey through Europe in Seville.
Sebastian Rode was badly marked. On his forehead, a small red star. Even minutes after the triumph in the Europa League, Eintracht Frankfurt's greatest success in 42 years, the bloody memory of this final had not yet disappeared. The captain fell to the ground after only five minutes, having been hit unluckily with his cleated shoe by opponent John Lundstrom. Rode lay on the lawn covered in blood for minutes, but he got to his feet. He returned as a gladiator with a blue and white turban, leading his team as long as the strength of his body, which had been abused for years, would allow it.
He was able to give his club 90 minutes in this dramatic, exciting and not always spectacular final against Glasgow Rangers (6:5 after penalties). It was 90 minutes full of passion, full of commitment, full of sacrifice. Almost like Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was physically worn down by Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final but never wanted to give up. Rode didn't have to endure quite as severe attacks against himself and his body as the German leader in Rio de Janeiro. Rode sacrificed himself in other ways. He ran through that furnace of Seville like there was no tomorrow. He ran, he plugged holes, drove - and went deep. He did everything his team needed. As he had done since the Barcelona miracle, that magical 3-2 at the Camp Nou. It was a hero's journey.
This time it was a successful one. Unlike three years ago. The Frankfurters had failed at the end of a remarkable story at Chelsea. At that time, coach Adi Hütter's team wanted to create a "small miracle" at Stamford Bridge. It didn't work. Instead of miracles there was drama. what a drama So much drama-drama that the drama degenerated the terms "sensation," "miracle," and "madness" into casual vocabulary. Story. Also one from Rode, who had to come down after 70 minutes. He was injured. He was a spectator in the penalty shootout. Like this Wednesday evening. But this time his team delivered – and Rode celebrated.
It's the culmination of a checkered career that has seen so many lows and should have seen so many highs. Moved to Frankfurt from archrival Kickers Offenbach's youth and recovered from cartilage damage in his first season, the then 23-year-old played the focus of FC Bayern over the next three years - a change that didn't work out in sporting terms. A change that may have just come too early. He stayed with the record champions for two years before going to Borussia Dortmund. A time full of suffering, full of hurt. Rode's time as a pro is also a medical bulletin for several pro careers.
In two and a half black and yellow years, he missed more than 500 working days due to various injuries - a madness that only players like Marco Reus or the Bender twins Sven and Lars have in their CVs. But Rode, the fighter, never gave up. Injury shocks and lack of form never threw him off the path - and it led him to the minor crown of European football. As an anchor in midfield, he kept the team together, even after Joe Aribo went behind in the 57th minute. This was preceded by a chain of errors in harmony. Dijbril Sow, who was outstanding in the end, unhappily headed the ball towards their own goal, where colleague Tuta is actually good at the ball, but unluckily slips away when going backwards - the way to 0:1 was clear.
If Eintracht was shocked, then only briefly. Twelve minutes later, Raphael Borré, the eternal lone fighter up front, made it 1-1 after the tireless Filip Kostić had prepared. These two players also tell their Frankfurt hero story. Kostic, as a strike pro, who then pulled himself together and played an incredible season. And Borré, who often acts under the radar, but is a mercilessly good pressing player and has also become a man of difference in recent weeks with his magical goals. He not only equalized against the Rangers, but also triumphed, his penalty was the shot into luck.
To the greatest happiness in the club's history for 42 years. Back then, the Legends-Elf of the SGE with Charly Körbel, Bernd Hölzenbein and Cha-Bum-kun won the UEFA Cup in two duels against Borussia Mönchengladbach for the young Lothar Matthäus and head coach Jupp Heynckes. Now the second international title. One not only for the euphoria, the emotion, the good feeling, but also for the account. With the triumph, Frankfurt moves into the Champions League despite a rather weak Bundesliga season. That should bring in at least 30 million euros more. Good arguments for players willing to change and potential newcomers.
But not an issue for tonight. At 12:12 a.m., after 120 dramatic minutes and ten shots from eleven meters, Rode lifted the heaviest pot in international football. A gigantic triumph, a gigantic plaster on the wounds of his body. After two championships (FC Bayern), two cup victories (BVB and FC Bayern) and two successes in the Hessian state cup (Kickers Offenbach), he is now the prince (because king because premier class is not king) of Europe.