More than four months ago, one of the most iconic sibling duos in German football history, the Bender brothers, announced their plans to retire at the end of the 2020-21 season. With two games left in the Bundesliga for Bayer Leverkusen, Lars announced in an interview with Kicker that his meniscus injury hadn’t recovered the way he imagined, and that it was time to hang up the boots. “It’s not the farewell I had imagined.” He told the German magazine.
After 341 games for Leverkusen, the versatile central midfielder will leave an important hole to be filled by the team for years to come. Having played the majority of his career in midfield, Lars also played significant minutes at right-back when needed. However, the biggest reason that his absence will be such a difficult shoe to fill is because of his leadership skills. It is never easy to replace a long-time captain and teach the virtues of a good leader. Whomever it is that will step into that role will have an important job ahead of them, for a team with high standards and high expectations.
Lars’ brother, Sven, will be available for Hannes Wolf’s side for the final two games of the season, but it certainly won’t be the same goodbye without his brother Lars. Together, the Bender brothers totaled 472 games for ‘Die Werkself’ and will retire the way they do everything else in life, together.