Luthe’s big departure: After relegation drama: Bochum cult player ends career

Luthe’s big departure
After relegation drama: Bochum cult player ends career

VfL Bochum remains in the top division. Andreas Luthe has played a part in this, as he is a reliable support for his team in the relegation second leg. But the goalkeeper will not be able to make it to the fourth year in a row in the Bundesliga. He is ending his career.

Andreas Luthe was denied the most kitschy of all farewell moments. The 37-year-old VfL Bochum goalkeeper was unable to save the decisive penalty to stay in the Bundesliga; Düsseldorf’s Takashi Uchino had nailed the ball over his goal. But nothing could have mattered less to Luthe at that moment. He had jumped into the right corner without a chance of getting the ball. His last jump as a professional goalkeeper. Because with that evening, with the team’s success in the relegation play-offs, the career of the goalkeeper, who played for VfL from 2001 to 2016, then moved on and only returned last winter, ended.

“That was my last game in professional football, if you look at it that way, it’s not for my heart anymore,” he said on the Sat.1 microphone: “Now the time has come to stop – at my club.” Until last week, there was nothing to suggest that Luthe would become a protagonist again. His career seemed to be coming to an end rather quietly. But then, after the defeat on matchday 34 against Werder Bremen, events at the club took a turn for the worse. Regular goalkeeper Manuel Riemann was dropped from the squad for the duels. There had been irreconcilable differences. A discussion is to follow.

“But I also had doubts”

Fortuna Düsseldorf – VfL Bochum 0:3 aet, 5:6 ae

Dusseldorf: 1-0, … Trainer: Thioune
Bochum: Luthe – Oermann (59. Loosli), Ordets, Schlotterbeck – Losilla (99. Masovic) – Passlack (59. Asano), Bero, Stöger, Wittek – Hofmann (91. Paciencia), Daschner (82. Osterhage); Trainer: Butcher
Referee: Deniz Aytekin (Oberasbach)
Gates: 0:1 Hofmann (18th), 0:2 Hofmann (66th), 0:3 Stöger (70th handball penalty)
Penalties shoot: 0:1 Paciencia, Luthe (Bochum) saves against Hoffmann, 0:2 Bero, 1:2 Johannesson, Kastenmeier (Düsseldorf) saves against Masovic, 2:2 Engelhardt, 2:3 Asano, 3:3 Oberdorf, 3:4 Stöger, 4:4 Tzolis, 4:5 Schlotterbeck, 5:5 Niemiec, 5:6 Wittek, Ushino (Düsseldorf) shoots over the goal
Yellow cards: Engelhardt – Hofmann, Oermann, Wittek, Masovic
Viewers: 51,500 (sold out)

So Luthe had to step in. In the first leg he cut an unfortunate figure – despite several strong saves. He let a free kick bounce forward late on, which Yannick Engelhardt converted to make it 3-0 for Düsseldorf. The lights went out in Bochum. The burden for the second leg seemed gigantic, impossible to recover. “It doesn’t matter. Andi kept a clean sheet today – no matter how. That was the goal today,” said defense chief Keven Schlotterbeck. VfL picked themselves up, played themselves into a frenzy at times, and came close to deciding the duel in the 90 minutes. But they had to stay after the game because the best opportunities were missed.

Luthe was later asked whether he really believed that the team would stay in the league: “I’m probably one of the crazy ones, but I had doubts too,” he admitted. “The first leg was tough, it was a bitter defeat, and we had an incredibly bad day. After a few days, you noticed again that there were one or two players there who could pull one or the other out of the hole. That’s great, that’s team sport.”

Wittek celebrates in the Riemann jersey

Luthe contributed to this in the return match. Unlike Riemann, he is not able to speed up his team’s game. Instead, he radiated extreme calm. He was always there for the corners, Fortuna’s most dangerous moments, and confidently picked up the cross. And he motivated. Something that Riemann had lost more and more of recently. He had been a ranting sparrow. That had not had a positive effect on his teammates. Luthe had been in contact with Riemann before the match: “I spoke to him on the phone. Manu is an important part of us and ensured that we were in a great position for a long time to stay in the league. He has always been a VfL player at heart – in his own way, with a lot of emotion. You have to take him as he is at times. The two of us couldn’t be more different. In the combination, you can see that we both managed to stay in the league. So it’s a team sport. One isn’t there, the other takes over. It’s that simple.”

Riemann was present even in his absence. Striker Philipp Hofmann, who scored a double, and the tireless long-distance runner and emotional leader Maximilian Wittek celebrated in the jersey of the actual number one. In the catacombs, Wittek said: “Manu is still one of us, he has shown throughout the season what an incredibly good goalkeeper he is. No matter what happened, he is still part of the team.”

Retreat possible? No!

Before the penalty shootout, Luthe was loudly celebrated by his own fans. And he went straight for it, blocking Andre Hoffmann’s first shot. It was his only save, but it was an important one. It gave Bochum the advantage from the penalty spot. His opposite number Florian Kastenmeier equalized when he defused Erhan Masovic’s shot. But Bochum’s nerves held. Uchino’s seventh shot brought the decision, complete ecstasy. “Today we will celebrate properly and turn night into day,” announced Luthe and kept his word. Things got wild in the Bermuda Triangle, the local party mile.

The decision to hang up his gloves and cleats is irrevocable: “No, I have 16 years of professional football behind me and had a great career,” he said when asked whether a retirement was still possible. “It feels a bit unreal to me. The fact that I was able to help here again is beyond words.”

It all started in Bochum, and he moved to Union Berlin via FC Augsburg. There he played in the European Conference League before moving to 1. FC Kaiserslautern and finally back home to Bochum. “I have benefited a lot from my teammates and coaches. There is no better time to say thank you. Then I look forward to everything that comes after.” Captain Anthony Losilla could not believe his luck, that of VfL and that of Luthe. “I am just so happy for him because he is such a great guy.”

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