Writing on The Players’ Tribune, Nuri Sahin relives the the terrifying moment the Borussia Dortmund team bus was attacked earlier this year.
I have a ritual before every big Champions League match. Whether we’re at home or on the road I have lunch at the team hotel and then grab a coffee with a team-mate – usually Marcel Schmelzer. Then I go back to my room and put on some music. I lie down on my bed and I close my eyes. I just … breathe.
I feel my chest go up and down and I picture the way I want the game to go. It’s just a couple of minutes – but I need it. I call my wife right after and make sure she’s okay. Then I shut off my phone and head down to the team bus.
On April 11, 2017 – the night we were supposed to play Monaco in the Champions League quarter-finals – I did all of these things.
The drive from the hotel to the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund is just a few minutes. Just enough time to have a quick chat with whoever you’re sitting next to. I was sitting with Marcel, and I remember him asking for a bottle of water from the shelf next to me right after we had started moving. I reached over and then … BANG! An explosion blew in our window.
Then everything started happening in slow motion. I had no idea what was going on. I just sort of … froze … I guess. But my mind was racing. In the span of maybe two seconds, I thought of my entire life. I thought of dying – but I thought of living, too. And then I thought of my family. I saw my five-year-old son, my one-year-old daughter and my wife. I could feel them there with me.
And then I snapped out of it … and I realized where I was. I turned around and saw my team-mate Marc Bartra. His arm was bleeding … bad … and I looked up and saw his eyes. I’ll never forget his eyes. They were dark and terrified. I saw other guys behind him start to stand up, but I screamed as loud as I could, „Stay down! Stay down! Get away from the windows!“
We had no idea what was happening or if it was over yet. I yelled at the bus driver, „Don’t stop! Please, please, please do not stop! Just keep moving! We have to move!“
I thought that maybe people were going to try to get on the bus and, you know … kill all of us.
The bus moved a couple more meters up the road before we could settle ourselves and see that nobody was outside. My ears were ringing, but I was okay. I was alive. I turned on my phone and called my wife and my mom. I told them that I was all right – but that I didn’t know what had happened exactly. I hung up, looked around and everyone was just … still. Nobody was moving or talking. I didn’t really look at the bus when I got off … I just wanted to be away from it.
A few minutes later somebody brought me a phone. It was Marc’s wife. I was the only player on the team besides Marc who could speak Spanish, so I had to tell her what had happened – or at least try. I told her that Marc was on the way to the hospital and that we weren’t sure how badly he was hurt. I could hear her crying. I won’t forget that sound for as long as I live. Never. I wouldn’t wish what she was feeling in that moment on my worst enemy.
I didn’t cry after we got off the bus – I was just in shock. I was just trying to breathe.
We walked back to the hotel, and then I drove home to my family in complete silence. No radio, no music – just the windows up and the sound of my car on the road. The whole ordeal, from the time we got off the bus to the time I got back to my house, lasted about an hour. And I took that hour one breath at a time.
I parked my car in the driveway and took a few steps up the walkway … and I saw my wife and kids standing in the doorway. I stopped – I just looked at them for a few seconds. And then I started to cry. I cried like I never had before. I hugged my daughter. I felt her face against mine and I thought, I am so lucky. I am so lucky. I am so lucky.
And then I thought of Marc – who wasn’t so lucky. I went with Marcel and another team-mate, Gonzalo Castro, to see him at the hospital that same night. He was banged up pretty bad … but he was ok. He was alive. That was all that mattered.
While we were there, we saw on the TV in the waiting room what had happened. Three bombs had exploded outside of our bus. They had been hidden in hedges on the side of the road. I couldn’t really process it … and I didn’t want to. And then I saw something that will stick with me forever. On the TV, they showed our fans welcoming Monaco fans – who were stuck in Dortmund due to the postponement of the match – into their homes for the night. Those are the sort of supporters we have. They knew that what had happened earlier in the day was bigger than football.
That’s just the way Dortmund fans are. I know, because I’ve been one my whole life.Euro Soccer Bonus
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