Less than six months after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, Sébastien Haller was back on the field for Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday in a friendly game.
The Ivory Coast striker came on as a 74th-minute substitute for Dortmund in a 5-1 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf during a winter training camp in Spain before the German season resumes next week.
Haller required chemotherapy and two operations, the second of them in late November after he was told in July that he had testicular cancer. The diagnosis came two weeks after Haller joined Dortmund and before he played a game.
Dortmund signed Haller from Ajax in the hope he could replace prolific scorer Erling Haaland after the Norwegian was sold to Manchester City.
The French-born Haller led the Dutch league last season with 21 goals and scored 11 more during Ajax’s run to the round of 16 in the Champions League. Without him, Dortmund has struggled in the Bundesliga and is in sixth place, nine points off leader Bayern Munich.
“It was a great moment on the pitch. I got a lot of applause and a lot of messages, I spoke to my teammates and the opponent. This support contributes to performance,” Haller said.
“I wanted to be there from the first game. We talked about what is the best solution to get some minutes. After six months, I finally wore a Dortmund jersey for the first time.
“I was really looking forward to playing because I couldn’t do it straight away after my move. Playing is a much better feeling than exercising and running through the woods, I missed that feeling.”
(With inputs from Reuters)