Worries about Frankfurt’s midfielder: Sebastian Rode is apparently at risk of an early end to his career

As of: February 29, 2024 5:25 p.m

Eintracht captain Sebastian Rode will probably have to end his career earlier than planned; he will probably not play any more games for the Hessians. But he is already a club legend.

There is this video from Eintracht Frankfurt that the club released before the 2022 Europa League final. You can see club legend Bernd Hölzenbein and captain Sebastian Rode in the Eintracht Museum in the stadium, standing in front of the display case with the UEFA Cup, which Hölzenbein won with Eintracht in 1980. The display case shines golden, and Rode’s eyes also shine golden as he looks into the display case, at this silver piece of eternity, which for him is also a promise, while in the background a voice says: “We have waited long enough”.

The video is little more than a footnote in this flood of coverage surrounding the historic final in the summer of 2022. But it illustrates quite well where Sebastian Rode has positioned himself as captain of Eintracht Frankfurt. Rode, who has been with the club for nine years on and off, is not standing next to Hölzenbein in that video for nothing. He stands next to his peers, so to speak. The video was released three days before the final. Three days later, Rode is also a club legend. One of only two European Cup winning captains. Now, less than two years later, he is facing the premature end of his career.

“Here’s the thing! The cup is for you”

Rode would have ended his career in the summer anyway. The fact that ongoing knee problems are now forcing him to undergo an arthroscopy earlier than planned, still hurts. “I will give everything again to say goodbye on the pitch on the last day of the match,” wrote Rode on Instagram. He would like it. Even his tears after the Conference League exit showed that Rode himself had imagined the end differently. Preferably with silverware, preferably again in a sea of ​​cheering people through which he drives in a motorcade. “Here’s the thing! The cup is for you,” he shouted hoarsely from the Roman balcony the day after Seville. You could hardly see him because of all the pyrotechnic smoke. It was still clear how much this title meant to the Hesse man who grew up just outside Frankfurt.

And what a title that was. After a few minutes, Rode is kicked in the head by an opponent, who, contorted in pain, slaps his hand on his face and raises it again, bloodied. Who lies on the ground for minutes and finally gets up again with a blue turban and bloody jersey. A man as an emblem of an entire team, an entire club, a declaration of war on the opponent, simply through the gesture of getting back up: Eintracht Frankfurt will not be knocked out this evening. Someone who, through scenes like this, supports an entire team where others would have to be supported themselves. “Frankfurt’s bloody hero”. “The Battered Prince of Europe,” was the headline in the press the day after. You want someone like that all the more to be able to decide for themselves when it’s over.

“He’s my ‘favorite player'”

Someone like that, that also means: Frankfurt boy. The years at other clubs were all well and good, but actually he was always a Frankfurter. Even when he said goodbye in 2014, his return seemed inevitable, even back then it seemed inevitable that Rode would return one day. The first cartilage damage was already behind him, as well as the shame of the second half of the season, which – probably – would not have happened without Rode’s injury. In the second division, Eintracht built a team around Rode, who led the club back to the first division and directly into the Europa League. And then he went to Bayern Munich and later Borussia Dortmund, because that’s what such good players do.

Rode collected titles there, he is a two-time German champion and two-time cup winner, played 18 times in the Champions League. “He is my ‘favorite player’ in the team,” praised none other than Pep Guardiola. “He always wants to, always wants to improve, doesn’t complain, helps the team and is a great player.”

“I’m not imagining things and I don’t pick up”

But they were also changeable years, also because Rode’s knee kept failing, and he suffered cartilage damage three times alone. This is also why he never played for the German national team. A joke on the stairs for a player of his class and character.

Anyway, the character. “I’m not imagining things and I don’t stand out. The environment keeps me down,” said Rode at the beginning of the last decade, when he had matured from a talent to a fixture in the game in Frankfurt. In retrospect, that sounds like a promise kept. No scandals, just a house at home. Down-to-earth instead of bling bling. Not a loudspeaker, but a leader, because of his quality, his clarity, his standing with his teammates and the coaches. “We coaches know exactly what he can do,” said, again, Pep Guardiola.

“This title was one of the fans like no other”

That’s what makes a captain. And a club legend? “This title was like no other for the fans,” said Rode in an interview with hr-Sport about Sevilla’s triumph. “Without her it wouldn’t have happened.” But not without Sebastian Rode either. The wait has become reality, with Rode as captain. From the golden glow in the display case, the crowning achievement of a career.