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May 6, 2013

Weidenfeller amazed by Dortmund's rise

Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller has told Die Welt Am Sonntag that the team's journey from relegation battlers to Champions League finalists has been "unbelievable" after committing his future to the club.

• Dortmund CEO: Bayern didn't bail us out

Seven years ago, Dortmund were struggling to stay in the Bundesliga. That season, Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk was fired during the winter break, with the club sitting ninth after 17 games.

In the ten games that followed, Dortmund would pick up only seven points, and Jurgen Rober was then dismissed. On matchday 27, and with Thomas Doll then on the sidelines, Dortmund dropped into the bottom three after a 1-0 defeat at Arminia Bielefeld.

A 4-1 victory at Alemannia Aachen then took Dortmund out of the drop zone, and they ultimately finished the season in ninth.

For Weidenfeller - with the club since 2002 - the memories of that time remain, and he said he had a sense of déjà vu when hugging captain Sebastian Kehl and general manager Michael Zorc following this season's European semi-final success against Real Madrid.

"We did the same in Aachen, when we secured our top-flight status seven years ago," he said. "That makes our recent success so unbelievable. Only a few years ago we were on the brink in both economic and sporting terms, and now we have reached the biggest final there is in European club football.

"After two Bundesliga titles and the winning the DFB-Pokal, this is the icing on the cake of a crazy development."

Weidenfeller, 32, has never won a cap for Germany, but Schalke goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand has suggested the appreciation the BVB goalkeeper has received for his performances in this year's Champions League compensate for his lack of international recognition.

"I have a great deal of respect for Timo's statement," Weidenfeller said. "I was absolutely delighted to hear that. It's nice that 'keepers bond at the right time despite the enormous rivalry [between Dortmund and Schalke]."

It emerged last week that Weidenfeller was to sign a new contract, and he has now put pen to paper on an extension until 2016.

The goalkeeper said in a press release that he had "never even considered making a switch to another club".

He added: "What has happened at Dortmund over the past few years is a unique positive football story, and I want to have a determining influence on it in the coming years."

Weidenfeller, who has made 288 Bundesliga games, was originally contracted to Dortmund until 2014 and BVB general manager Michael Zorc said he was "delighted" with the news.

"He is an extraordinarily strong 'keeper and has constantly put top performances, making a large contribution to our Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012 as well as securing our berth in the Champions League final this season," Zorc added.

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