Under inexplicable circumstances, Andre Schurrle, the man who assisted Mario Gotze’s World Cup-winning goal in 2014 – to end Germany’s long wait for the coveted title – announced his retirement on Friday, at the age of 29.
It’s not often that footballers hang up their boots before the age of 30, although, Schurrle has had enough, and in his own words, he was “completely finished.”
Earlier in the week, the playmaker terminated his contract with Borussia Dortmund, despite having one year remaining on the deal, but nobody could have predicted what transpired next.
In an understandably gut-wrenching interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel, Andre Schurrle admitted falling out of love of the game, owing to the fact that the personal struggles – that come along in the life of a footballer – had started to take a toll on him.
“The decision has matured in me for a long time. I no longer need the applause. The depths became deeper and the highlights less and less.
You always have to play a certain role in order to survive in the business otherwise you will lose your job and will not get a new one. Only performance on the pitch counts.”Andre Schurrle
The peculiar story of Andre Schurrle
Andre Schurrle began his career with Mainz 05 and after an impressive stint of two years, Bayer Leverkusen came calling. He would continue to deliver stellar performances with Leverkusen which in-turn prompted Chelsea to swoop him up in 2013.
The German was elated having secured a big-money move to Stamford Bridge. Upon his arrival in London, the youngster admitted that sharing the dressing room with bonafide stars like Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and others was like the stuff of dreams.
In his debut campaign, Schurrle played 43 games for the Blues across all competitions, contributing nine goals and three assists. However, the following year, his life changed, in a way that would prove to be a blessing, and a curse as well.
During the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, he played a key role in Germany’s rampant run into the final, scoring two goals in the famous 7-1 win over the hosts at Marcana. But his biggest contribution was to come in the final.
Facing a sensational Argentina team led by Lionel Messi in the final, it was Schurrle who assisted Mario Gotze’s goal that decided the fate of the World Cup trophy.
However, the 29-year-old returned to Chelsea visibly exhausted from his heroics at the World Cup. In his second season, the pacey forward fell out of favour with coach Jose Mourinho and the lack of a winter break in England only added to his woes.
By this time, he was struggling, both physically and mentally.
“I was able to push myself for three or four weeks, but then I fell into the deepest hole there is.”Andre Schurrle
The intensity of Premier League’s demanding nature took a big toll on Andre Schurrle, and he admitted feeling that he lost a bit of his pace, because of his thigh muscles being ‘on fire’ from the gruelling demands of the sport.
Things began to fell apart, and at one point in time, the Chelsea player decided to undergo a brain scan, which came back clean.
“I was almost hoping that there would be something there, nothing bad, of course, but something that could be turned off quickly.”Andre Schurrle
Return to Germany, and falling out of love with football
Frustrated with his lack of opportunities under Jose Mourinho, Andre Schurrle left Chelsea to return to his native Germany with Vfl Wolfsburg in February 2015.
It was at the Volkswagen Arena that he found joy in football once again, making 49 appearances for the club, helping Wolfsburg win the DFB Pokal in 2014-15 season before leaving to join Borussia Dortmund in July 2016.
It appeared that the forward’s career was on the up again, although a combination of multiple injuries marred his debut season with BVB, limiting him to just 15 appearances in the Bundesliga, and 25 throughout the whole season, across all competitions.
The following year, he again suffered from muscle injuries and owing to form and fitness issues, Schurrle was sent out on a two-year loan to Fulham in 2018-19 after the Cottagers secured promotion to the Premier League.
A second stint in English football began on a rather decent note, as he racked-up up a tally of five goals in 13 matches since the beginning of the season, but his form curtailed towards the end of the campaign.
The Dortmund loanee could only add one more goal between then and the end of the season, and his contract with Fulham was terminated early, owing to the club’s relegation from the English top-flight.
Last season, Andre Schurrle was on loan at Russian club Spartak Moscow, but form and fitness issues once again limited him to just 18 appearances across all competitions.
After the end of his loan spell, the playmaker decided to mutually terminate his contract with Dortmund, and subsequently opt for retirement.
“Only performance on the pitch counts. Vulnerability and weakness should not exist at any time. I didn’t want to play football anymore. I was completely finished.”Andre Schurrle
The story of Andre Schurrle reveals the painstaking struggles of being a footballer, it tells the less spoken truths, away from the glitzy life that some footballers enjoy, plenty of them face loneliness and rejection, something the German didn’t want to endure any longer.
Despite this, despite the early goodbye, he has achieved more than what several others fail to attain in their prolonged careers.
His story will always live to tell the tale that there’s much more to footballers than what meets the eye.