Lars Ricken presented as managing director for sport

2024-05-15 12:22 PM by Borussia Dortmund–  4m read

Since 1 May, Lars Ricken has been in the role of managing director for sport at Borussia Dortmund. On Wednesday, the former director of the youth academy introduced himself at a press conference and answered questions about his new position.

"For me, modern leadership means empowering everyone. Now we have to create the right conditions so that everyone can work optimally in their own field, but also come together to work in harmony. That will help us achieve the greatest possible success. I want to shape the future of this club with my colleagues,’ says Lars Ricken, who has been the new managing director of sport at Borussia Dortmund since 1 May. The former professional player and director of the youth academy was the only candidate with whom the executive committee of the advisory board of Borussia Dortmund Geschäftsführungs-GmbH, headed by Dr Reinhold Lunow, spoke. "He blew the committee away when he presented his concept," explained the club president.

The suggestion to appoint Lars Ricken to the new position came from Hans-Joachim Watzke. The chief executive of BVB's management board had announced in January his intention to hand over responsibility for sporting matters: "Lars has done an exceptional job for 16 years, both in terms of player development and winning titles at youth level. If you look at his personal attitude, his experience and his CV, it's a well-rounded and complete package."

Born and raised in Dortmund, Ricken first played for Borussia Dortmund at youth level and then went on to help the club win three Bundesliga titles and the UEFA Champions League. He was appointed youth development coordinator on 1 July 2008 and was promoted to director of the youth performance centre on 1 January 2021, which he shaped into the most successful in German football. "I'm ready for this responsibility. It's a special honour for me as a native of Dortmund. Of course, far more than that is required to take on the role of managing director for sport at Borussia Dortmund," said Ricken. "The work at the youth academy gave me many opportunities to prepare for this. In this post, you are managing director, sports director and technical director all in one. As a squad planner, I was responsible for several teams at the same time, had to put together coaching teams and sign contracts with players, advisors and parents. I built up structures with the staff. The scouting department, fitness, rehab, education - my job was to find the right people, promote their potential, support and develop them, but also to keep them at the club. It's the biggest department in the club, so two things are extremely important: communication and trust."

When asked about how things currently stand at Borussia Dortmund, Ricken said: "I'm proud of this team and the way it has represented the black and yellow colours in Europe. That's a great achievement. But we also have to keep our focus on the Bundesliga. That's the competition with the most games. It's less about how you perform on the day. It's the competition that has the highest priority at the start of the season. We are now in fifth place and I don't think that the teams ahead of us are going to go backwards. The task is to have a competitive side next year."

One of the pressing tasks for the new director of sport is therefore to talk to those responsible for squad planning: "We have always been strongest when we have pursued a two-pronged strategy. On the one hand, with young, hungry players who have sporting quality and market value potential - either from our own youth programme or top national or international talent. However, it is also very important to have a backbone of players with experience, quality, mentality and leadership strength that the young players can lean on and develop with. That must be our approach."

Ricken describes his vision for BVB: "I became a German champion as a youth player, as a senior player and as director of the youth performance centre. I won't be putting this aspiration to one side. But I can't promise things either. We have gone long enough without winning the title. At the end of the day, we do everything for the fans. It has to be our aspiration and our mindset to ensure that the fans go home happy after a game and are already looking forward to the next one. The scenes following the wins over Atletico and PSG were iconic. We created special moments. If we can continue to do that, then we will be successful as a team."

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