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Andre Schurrle played a key role in Germany winning the 2014 edition of the World Cup. (Image Credit: Twitter)
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Andre Schurrle’s early retirement indicates the struggle beyond the riches

Andre Schurrle played a key role in Germany winning the 2014 edition of the World Cup. (Image Credit: Twitter)
Andre Schurrle played a key role in Germany winning the 2014 edition of the World Cup. (Image Credit: Twitter)

“A superb run from Schurrle on the left-hand side as he takes on a couple of Argentinian defenders, and delivers a sumptuous ball into the path of Gotze, who chests and volleys the ball beyond a sprawling Romero from five yards out.” No prizes for guessing the moment being referred to. Germany won the WC in 2014, after 24 long years after a piece of magic from none other than the most underrated member of the squad- Andre Schurrle. The talented forward was thrown into the limelight, hailed as the unheralded messiah who had helped deliver the much-coveted trophy after years of struggle.

The 23-year-old found it hard to control his emotions as he interacted with the media, unable to disguise a choked voice indicating the emotions involved. “This is the best moment of my life. I had to cry because I was so overcome. I couldn’t stop it.”

The media went ballistic labelling him as the next big thing in German football, with many hailing the attacker as the find of the tournament. Footballing experts went to the extent of terming Schurrle as one of the most likely candidates to ply his trade with heavyweights like Barcelona and Real Madrid, going on to lead the line for Germany in the 2018 Russia WC.

Reality sadly is often quite haunting. This beautiful dream had a sad ending in store, with the attacker announcing his retirement a few days ago at the age of 29. With no major injuries, the decision certainly came as a massive shock with the player deemed capable of playing for the next 3-4 years. Just six years after leading Germany to World Cup glory, the attacker had decided to hang up his boots.

This decision sadly was influenced by a pretty well-known yet trivialized factor, conveniently ignored amidst the riches of top-flight football: Weight of expectations.

“The decision matured in me for a long time, the depths became deeper & the highlights less & less. You always have to play a certain role in order to survive in the business, otherwise you will lose your job & you will not get a new one,” confirmed Schurrle highlighting the immense pressure which footballers battle on a daily basis.

The 29-year-old was under a lot of pressure following an underwhelming spell in Russia, shortly after a patchy spell with Fulham in the Premier League.

Torrid form at Fulham:

“The club is delighted to confirm the arrival of world cup winner André Schürrle on a 2-year loan deal. The 27-year old forward has agreed a deal that keeps him at Craven Cottage for the next two seasons.” read a statement by Fulham, as they announced the signing of Schurrle on loan from Borussia Dortmund.

The German attacker had moved to Dortmund in 2016, after manager Thomas Tuchel decided to take a punt in order to reinforce his attack with the signing of a quality footballer. Sadly, luck failed to favour him when he needed it the most after huffing and puffing to hardly 8 goals with the Bundesliga champions. Andre Schurrle never really managed to make a mark post the WC in Brazil, with a move away imminent following the arrival of ex-Nice manager Lucien Favre.

Fulham manager Slaviša Jokanović’s men bounced back into the Premier League in style following an impressive 2017/18 season, clinching promotion after beating Aston Villa in the play-off final. The outfit went about conducting transfer dealings in astute fashion, swooping the likes of Jean Michaël Seri before indulging in the shock acquisition of Andre Schurrle.

Fulham had done some “Serrious” business in the transfer window. Seri and Tom Cairney were expected to form an impressive central midfield partnership. The return of Aleksandar Mitrovic and the forever lively Ryan Sessegnon was expected to provide the firepower needed to stay in the Premier League.

The German international however struggled to disguise the dismay in his voice, as he conveyed his emotions on signing on for the club.

“I’m so happy to be here, I can’t wait to get started. Fulham were the first club that showed interest in me – that was something that I appreciated a lot, and one of the reasons I wanted to come here,” said Schurrle.

It must have been quite a bitter moment for the striker to admit having received concrete interest mainly from a promoted outfit, in comparison to the footballing giants he was linked just a few years back. His relationship with former club Borussia Dortmund had deteriorated to such an extent that the club tweeted out a message, declaring a move to Fulham rather than keeping it confidential as is the norm.

The forward further minced no words in slamming the Dortmund fans for not backing him when he desired their support the most.

“We had a difficult last two years when I was in Dortmund,” said Schurrle. “It was not easy, the relationship between fans and players. It’s a big jealousy thing in Germany that you have from fans — not the hardcore fans because they always stand behind their team.”

“It’s not easy, especially for a German national team player who did great things in the past and maybe is struggling. That’s why I think most of the German national team play abroad because if you don’t play for Bayern Munich and you don’t always win, it’s difficult,” he added.

Andre Schurrle was handed the perfect opportunity to make a mark for a side, looking to build an attack around him. An exciting spell might well have earned him the big-money move he was craving for.

However, Schurrle never really managed to hit his peak for Fulham, with the club eventually relegated. To add salt to the wound, the German attacker further failed to find a spot for himself in the squad for the 2018 WC in Russia.

This followed by the underwhelming spell in Russia with Spartak Moscow, resulted in constant media scrutiny and fan criticism. Andre Schurrle eventually decided to mutually terminate his contract with Borussia Dortmund, having scored eight and assisted ten in his 51 appearances for the Bundesliga giants.

The German attacker’s tragic early retirement indicates the rewarding yet cruel and demanding life of a football player. The riches certainly do not make it any easier to negotiate the pressure involved at every stage, with the gap between personal and professional affairs evaporating.

You are judged for anything and everything you do both on and off the pitch. One day you’re on top of the world and the next you see yourself lying on the ground with no one else to blame but yourself. A little more empathy would certainly go a long way in making the world a kinder place.

Written By: Abhiram Hari.


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