Lukasz Piszczek has officially called it quits on his career, after eleven seasons with Borussia Dortmund and fourteen years in the Bundesliga.
For many Dortmund fans, Piszczek was the unsung hero of not just the team’s glory days, but the past eleven seasons. He was part of the illustrious back-four that won the league title in successive campaigns back in the early 2010s, played through a hip injury in Dortmund’s nearly UEFA Champions League year in 2013, and made the official Bundesliga Team of the Season in successive seasons under Thomas Tuchel. The Polish right-back will forever go down as a legend in Dortmund, after his fantastic decade with the club.
MOVING FROM HERTHA BERLIN
Lukasz Piszczek quickly became a fan favourite in Dortmund after his move from Hertha Berlin in 2010, which really shouldn’t have come to any surprise given his fantastic three season spell with the Berlin-based clubs. The Polish defender made 87 appearances for HSBC, in his final season quickly establishing himself as one of the league’s best right-backs at the age of 24. Instantly, he was a hit in Dortmund, playing with a simultaneous sense of fearlessness and composure. He was mobile, quick, good in 1v1 situations, and could also get forward and deliver quality crosses into the box. These were all qualities that Dortmund fans would quickly get to know, and fall in love with, as they fell in love with the Polish player himself.
THE GLORY DAYS
Alongside Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic and Marcel Scmelzer, Lukasz Piszczek formed a quarter of the formidable back-four that won the Bundesliga title in 2010-11 – his first season at the club. The very next season he developed more of a goal-scoring threat, bagging 4 league goals as the Black & Yellows won the title yet again, this time with a DFB-Pokal Cup to add to the mix. In his third season at the club, the insane amount of games he had played in his first two seasons under Jurgen Klopp caught up to him, and he battled his way through a hip injury for the entire second-half of the season. Being the heroic, warrior-like figure that he is and was, Piszczek pushed past the pain to help Dortmund make it all the way to the Champions League final, which they ultimately lost to Bayern Munich. It was announced shortly thereafter that he would require surgery, and Dortmund would be without their star man for the first half of the 2013-14 season.
The Black & Yellows signed the likes of Erik Durm, Matthias Ginter and the versatile Gonzalo Castro to try and ease the pressure of not having one of the first names on their team sheet, but nobody could replace the astute defensive presence and tireless mobility that Piszczek offered. The Polish defender would never make the same number of appearances in a season at Dortmund as he managed in his first three seasons at the club, but continued to be a favourite under the regime of several different managers. His versatility meant that under a tactical innovator like Thomas Tuchel, Piszczek could play at right-back, right-wing-back or right-centre-back. The likes of Ginter and Durm simply couldn’t compete, and were sold to other Bundesliga clubs. Piszczek lived on in the Dortmund team as he reached his thirties, even making two back-to-back Bundesliga Team of the Season’s under Thomas Tuchel between 2015 and 2017. In Tuchel’s final season, the Black & Yellows picked up another DFB Pokal, again with Piszczek at the heart of everything good for the team.
After continuing to be a dominant force and someone the Black & Yellows could never afford to leave out in the club’s awkward phase between Tuchel and Lucien Favre, Piszczek’s role continued under the influence of the Swiss manager. It seems crazy to say given how well he’s developed since then, but even Achraf Hakimi couldn’t knock the Polish defender out of the lineup on a consistent enough basis. Hakimi only featured in half of the games in his first season at the club and played many of them at left-back instead, as Raphael Guerreiro pushed higher up the field. Despite now being in his early thirties, Piszczek was still one of the first names on the team sheet. When Favre switched to a back-three, the Polish legend stayed in the team, this time taking up a role as the right-centre-back in the team. He instantly strengthened a struggling centre-back partnership between the aging Mats Hummels and the error-prone Manuel Akanji in the team’s newfound trio at the back, and made 38 appearances in all competitions…at the age of 34.
Dortmund failed to get off to a good start in 2020-21, and their under-reliance on the man they had relied so heavily on over the years was one of many issues. Piszczek was brought back into the team for the end of the season under Edin Terzic’s influence, helping BVB win the DFB-Pokal and finish third in the table. It was then that the Polish defender officially announced his retirement from the game, after an incredible eleven-season stay with Borussia Dortmund.
Lukasz Piszczek is an absolute legend of the game, both for Borussia Dortmund and the Bundesliga as a whole. His influence as the undeniable right-back in the team that nobody could defeat, over an eleven year spell will not be forgotten any time soon. Instead, the memory of Lukasz Piszczek and his heroics for a club he loved so very much, will continue to live on.