Haller decides the African Cup: “We have dreamed of this moment so often”

AWhen a reporter hugged him as he sobbed on the lawn, Sebastien Haller also shed tears. “We have dreamed of this moment so often,” the Borussia Dortmund professional footballer said on Sunday evening, shortly after he scored the decisive 2-1 (0-1) goal for Ivory Coast in the African Cup final nations against Nigeria. . This year’s third host title after 1992 and 2015 is also special for Haller.

“Haller-luya!” – English football legend Gary Lineker wrote in X, earlier on Twitter. Many observers recalled the particular story of the 29-year-old striker, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer in the summer of 2022, shortly after his move from Ajax Amsterdam to Dortmund. After several months of treatment, Haller returned to the field.

Crazy situation for Ivory Coast

His goals and assists saw BVB make a great comeback in the second half of last season. But when the championship seemed almost perfect, the striker’s nerves failed. His missed penalty on matchday 34 against Mainz (2-2) contributed to the missed title and at the same time marked the beginning of Haller’s sporting decline in Dortmund. So far this season he has started only four Bundesliga matches and has not scored a single goal in eleven matches.

The lost championship title caused him more pain than the diagnosis of cancer, he told Sport-Bild in the fall. “Unfortunate situations or missed opportunities wear you down. You think about what you could do better. But especially during my illness, I learned to stop letting negative things affect me so much.”

Despite BVB’s sporting woes, Haller impressed in crucial moments of the African Cup. He was only allowed to start in the semi-final against the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1-0) and in the final, scoring the decisive goal twice. His story fits into the frantic tournament run of the hosts, who narrowly missed out on elimination after a disastrous 4-0 preliminary round loss to Equatorial Guinea. Finishing third in the group, the Ivorians made it to the playoffs – but without their coach Jean-Louis Gasse, with whom they parted with great fanfare.

His place was taken by Emers’ assistant Fae, especially since preferred candidate and former national team coach Hervé Renard was not immediately available. “I would have liked it, but fate decreed otherwise,” Renard, who now coaches French footballers, said in an interview with Canal Plus television.

Thus fate led Fae, who, after a well-deserved final victory over Nigeria, declared: “It was an outstanding tournament.” For him, for Ivory Coast – and especially for Sebastien Haller.

Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine

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