A serious injury forced Lars Stindl to miss out on the end of the season. However, the Borussia captain has shifted his focus to what’s still to come, and is looking forward to playing in Europe next season.
It was barely a minute into Borussia’s match away against Hannover on 13th April that Lars Stindl collided with Matthias Ostrzolek. The sound of the collision, as well as Stindl’s expression, left no room for doubt that the captain had badly injured himself. It was also almost exactly a year ago that Stindl tore a ligament in his left ankle against Schalke and had to watch as his hopes of taking part in the World Cup came to an end. This time, in Hannover, it was his tibia. A clean break. And, the bitter realisation that he had yet another torturous time ahead filled with pain and surgery, weeks of rehabilitation and a summer break that really isn’t one—that’s what the next few months will look like for him.
It’s been six weeks since the injury, and things are looking up for both Stindl and his team, who managed to qualify for the Europa League next season. Stindl tweeted “Europe, we’re back!” after the season ended, showing just how much having qualified for Europe means to both the club and the team. “We had a great first half to the season. Then we had some issues in the second half. At the moment, we’re excited to have finished fifth and that we get to take part in a really great international competition next season,” said the 30-year-old, who is no longer on crutches.
Working on a quick comeback
It remains to be seen whether or not the captain will be able to return in time for the start of the group stage on 19th September. Stindl made the decision to not take part in Gladbach's post-season trip to China and instead is working on making his return. “The healing process is going well and I don’t have any pain anymore—each day is better than the one before,” Stindl said. After the initial shock faded following his second serious injury within the span of a year, Stindl has bounced back quickly. “I’m fully focused on what’s ahead and am looking forward to the new season and getting to play in the Europa League!” But the captain doesn’t want to get ahead of himself. “Whether or not I will travel to training camp at Lake Tegernsee in mid-July or if I’ll stay here to continue training remains to be seen. I definitely don’t want to rush things,” he said.
However, the season is long. And when you mention the words ‘Europe’ and ‘Stindl’ in the same sentence, every Borussia fan will likely immediately think of one of the most spectacular matches in Europa League history. In February 2017, the Foals were down 2-0 in the second leg of their knockout match against Fiorentina, having lost the first leg 1-0. Then came Lars Stindl. In what may have been the best game of his career so far, Stindl scored three goals in eleven minutes. Borussia ended up winning 4-2, and moved on to the round of 16. “All of us are looking forward to nights like that,” said Stindl, when asked about the game against Fiorentina. “It doesn’t even have to be against Fiorentina,” he said with a laugh. “This past Europa League season showed us exactly what kind of unbelievably great moments you can experience anytime and anywhere.”