From youth director to sports director – club legend Lars Ricken is supposed to lead Borussia Dortmund into the future. The former Champions League hero of BVB emerged as the winner from the months-long scheming over the successor to Hans-Joachim Watzke.

As the Bundesliga soccer team announced one day after the 1-1 (0-0) draw against Bayer Leverkusen, the 47-year-old will act as managing director of sports from May and will initially be responsible for the sporting area of ​​the eight-time German champions until June 30, 2027.

“I am convinced that with the incredible power of this club and the passion of our many motivated employees, we will achieve great victories together and steer Borussia Dortmund into a successful future,” commented Ricken.

Contrary to what many observers expected, Sebastian Kehl does not move up to the management level, but remains sports director. In addition, former chief scout Sven Mislintat is returning and will start work as technical director with a focus on squad planning in May. The managing directors Thomas Treß (finance, organization, law

Personnel issues resolved before season showdown

All personnel issues in the Dortmund management team have been clarified in time for the important Champions League qualification game next Saturday at RB Leipzig and the two semi-final games in the European premier class against Paris Saint-Germain on May 1st and 7th.

Speculation about names like Markus Krösche and Fredi Bobic made headlines after Watzke’s retirement announcement in January. Accordingly, the long-standing omnipotent will hand over responsibility for the sport in the summer of 2024 and will leave the management in the fall of 2025.

The 64-year-old Watzke welcomed the decision in favor of Ricken, in which he was likely to have played a key role: “I am very pleased that Lars Ricken is taking over the position of managing director for the sporting area. I am sure that Borussia Dortmund will work with the managing directors Thomas Treß, Carsten Cramer and Lars Ricken will continue to be in a first-class professional position in the future.”

Ricken enjoys an excellent reputation among fans not only because of his goal in the 1997 Champions League final against Juventus Turin, which was voted the club’s goal of the century. He also made a contribution to Borussia in his roles as youth coordinator and director of the youth performance center (2021), which he has held since 2014.

“He has played a significant role in ensuring that the Dortmund youth academy is by far the most successful German NLZ of the past ten years. Lars Ricken’s expertise, his large network and the enormous identification with his home club, with which he also celebrated great success as a player, will enrich the management,” says BVB President Reinhold Lunow.

No promotion for sports director Kehl

Kehl had long been considered as a possible successor to Watzke. The former professional and successor to Michael Zorc had described the supposed promotion as a “logical step” for himself just a few weeks ago. The fact that Mislintat is now also being assigned to the sports director as a squad planner indicates limited trust in the work of the former BVB professional. “Lars Ricken will start talks in the summer regarding a possible contract extension for Sebastian Kehl,” the club said in a statement.

The former Dortmund chief scout Mislintat (2006 to 2017), who was sports director at VfB Stuttgart from 2019 to 2022 and worked in a similar role at Ajax Amsterdam from May to September 2023, will report directly to Ricken and Kehl in his new position as technical director.