Torn cruciate ligament in Florian Wirtz: pure misfortune – sport
Rudi Völler wasted no time after Florian Wirtz had been carried off the field on a stretcher. Bayer Leverkusen’s sports director set priorities, let the derby be derby and rushed to the patient in the dressing room. He knew that he couldn’t contribute anything significant now, but it was about the gesture: about presence, about support and sympathy for the 18-year-old Wirtz, who apparently had suffered more than one everyday injury. The worrying impression that Völler had already gained from the stands matched the descriptions of the person concerned. “As he described it, how he got sucked in from the movement behind – the signs were already clear. Florian knew that something broke,” said Völler.
As the game entered the second half, Wirtz drove to the hospital with his parents, where the MRI scans confirmed the hunch. Less than an hour and a half after the final whistle of the 0-1 lost game against 1. FC Köln, Bayer Leverkusen announced: “Cruciate ligament tear – Florian Wirtz will be out for a long time.” A seven or eight month break is to be expected.
Some Cologne fans in the guest block might have saved themselves unnecessary heckling if they had known the extent of the injury. As it was, Wirtz not only had to deal with the pain and shock during the immediate treatment on the pitch, but also with malicious comments from the supporters of the club, for which he had played passionately for almost ten years since childhood. Wirtz came to FC when he was seven, he switched to Bayer 04 at the beginning of 2020 because of better prospects, and since then some Cologne fans have followed him with their special dislike: Because he went to the unloved local rivals, but above all because he was such an extraordinary talented and valuable player.
Hansi Flick is also interested: “Florian Wirtz is one of the greatest talents in German football.”
Cologne coach Steffen Baumgart condemned the behavior of those FC fans. Wirtz’s injury is “sad for him, sad for all of us – it’s not okay to mock something like that.” Further recriminations were unnecessary after the quite heated clash between the competing neighboring clubs. Cologne defender Luca Kilian, who had pushed Wirtz aside in a tackle and thrown him off balance with a check, didn’t need to justify his stepping in. There were no allegations against him. “It was just bad luck,” said Völler, “Florian tries to avoid the opponent and then comes up stupid, pure misfortune, nobody could do anything about it.”
In coach Gerardo Seoane’s dispositions, Wirtz has consistently been at the center of the game this season: at the age of 18 he was already the leading man in the team, a pitch boss who didn’t have to campaign for his leading role, but himself naturally qualified for this with his abilities. Wirtz also arranged almost every goal-threatening moment in the Leverkusen offensive against Cologne before his departure. The people of Cologne, who Baumgart later described as “the happier, not the better winners”, benefited from his substitution.
For Bayer 04 it’s obviously a question of not complaining so loudly about the loss of playmaker Wirtz that it has an effect in the players’ cabin. Due to the unscheduled defeat against Cologne, the fight for the Champions League places has become exciting again, third place, which seems to have been taken permanently in mid-November, is suddenly attacked by the trio of Leipzig, Hoffenheim and Freiburg, who are rushing at the same time. Völler swears by the qualities of Bayer, who have come under pressure: “We have a top coach and we are too strong to let Florian’s injury knock us down.”
Is it enough for Wirtz for the World Cup in Qatar?
How things will continue medically with Wirtz in the next few days was not clear on Monday; there is no date for the operation yet, and there is no reliable statement about the time of his return anyway. He could be back in time for the World Cup in Qatar, but he’ll have to catch up with his game and the team first. Under these conditions, he can hardly play his usual supporting role. A few hours after the accident, the national coach called Wirtz, whom he had helped make his debut in the national team in September. He was “shocked” by the news of the injury, said Hansi Flick: “Florian Wirtz is one of the greatest talents that the German Soccer has produced in recent years. But he’ll come back just as strong, I’m sure.”
Wirtz, says Rudi Völler, has the gift, like Kai Havertz, of making his game, his passes and receiving the ball look very simple. But that is exactly where the great championship lies, which distinguishes the exceptional player from the ordinary professional. Should it not be enough in November for the 2022 World Cup and for the joint appearance with his Leverkusen predecessor Havertz, then Völler is already looking forward to the next opportunity: “Then, as a pensioner, I will watch Kai and Flo how they play for Germany play, and I’ll say: They were both with us once.”