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Kehl quits as Dortmund captain

Sebastian Kehl joined Dortmund in 2001.
Sebastian Kehl will take a back seat this season.

Veteran midfielder Sebastian Kehl has stepped down as Borussia Dortmund captain as he plans for his final season as a professional footballer.

Kehl, 34, announced the decision in a press conference on Wednesday, saying he preferred to hand over to a successor now while still being around to offer his support.

"This important role has filled me with enjoyment and pride,'' he told the club's official website. "It makes sense now to pass the baton on.

"For now I will have the opportunity to stand by my successor and give advice and practical help and support with my experience. Now the time is right.''

Kehl, a 2002 signing from Freiburg, inherited the captaincy from Christian Worns in 2008, with Jurgen Klopp identifying him as the man to lead the dressing room despite the fact he was battling a succession of injuries at the time.

He had already announced he intended this season to be his last, and is determined to go out on top even though he will no longer have the armband.

"Borussia stands in front of a fantastic future,'' he added. "And I'm glad I have been able to shape the story in recent years. I have decided to end my career after this season and to do so now as captain.

"I informed the club and the coach of this at the end of last season. It has nothing to do with my commitment. Anyone who knows me knows that I give everything. I'll stay in a leadership role. My role will not change within the club.

"The best thing would be if we could end my final season with the title.''

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