Former Chelsea fan favorite / cult hero André Schürrle is back in London and the Premier League, three and a half years after leaving Chelsea.
He signed with Fulham yesterday, joining the Cottagers’ bid to stay up after gaining promotion through the playoffs last season from the Championship. Another (probable) smart signing by them, alongside Nice duo Jean Michaël Seri and Maxime Le Marchand as well as former Besiktas goalkeeper Fabri.
Why do we care?
We don’t, really. But I adored André Schürrle as a Chelsea player and I know I wasn’t alone. I am happy to see him happy, especially as things haven’t quite worked out for him as well as he might have imagined since leaving Stamford Bridge.
André Schürrle was (is?) part of a new breed of footballer. Not because of his style, a semi-unique speedy, lanky wing-forward as he might have been (and could still be), but because he was the first senior player to sign with Chelsea who basically had only lived in a world where Chelsea were a world football power and then talked about that being a major factor in his decision-making. He was a Chelsea fan, and he was proud of it.
“My decision [to join Chelsea] was right, I win minutes on the pitch. I am living my dream at my dream club.”
-André Schürrle; March 2014
Schürrle was born in 1990, just a couple years before the creation of the Premier League and the start of the influx of European players to the English game. Chelsea were at the forefront of that movement all along, even before Abramovich swooped in with his millions to change things forever. Schürrle was just 12 when The Roman Era began, and ready for a formative experience. A few years later, Michael Ballack joined, and that sealed the deal for young André.
“It was my dream to come here. I always wanted to play in another country, especially in the Premier League, because I watched so many matches when Michael Ballack came to Chelsea. He and Lampard were my idols at that time, so it was a dream — and now it’s come true. As a kid, I had a Chelsea shirt with Lampard’s name on it.”
-André Schürrle; August 2013
Few players were so obviously and outwardly happy to be at and play for Chelsea; it seemed like a match made in footballing heaven. And for a while, it was. The fans responded and he quickly before a favorite and a cult hero. That first season saw him feature 43 times despite battling the likes of Hazard, Willian, Oscar, Mata, De Bruyne for playing time. He survived the latter two in fact by 12 months before being shipped out in January 2015 ... though not before scoring Chelsea’s best goal of the title-winning campaign, against Burnley (subsequently ignored for the official award thanks to his mid-season transfer).
Schürrle would later express regret about the decision to leave, in part because he couldn’t quite settle at Wolfsburg. But the Chelsea exit itself remains somewhat shrouded in mystery, too, with hints about an unspecified underlying medical condition playing a part as well. Schürrle’s 2014, which even saw him win the World Cup with Germany by providing the assist for Mario Götze’s winner in the final (and scoring a brace against Brazil in the 7-1), turned into a rather sour 2015. Outside of a good full season at Wolfsburg, he’s been mostly struggling for relevancy since, and has spent the last two years playing bit parts for Borussia Dortmund, featuring in barely half the games.
Now, the 27-year-old tries his luck once again in the fresh West London air, this time with Fulham rather than Chelsea, and on a two-year loan rather than a permanent transfer (at least at this point).
“I’m so happy to be here, I can’t wait to get started. Fulham were the first club that showed interest in me - that was something that I appreciated a lot, and one of the reasons I wanted to come here.
“I love ball possession, I love attacking, and I love making runs, so I think it could be perfect. I have to fight for my place and I have to show my quality so that I can be a member who really helps the team.”
-André Schürrle; source: Fulham FC
It’s a good thing this is more or less a “friendly” rivalry, and we/I can wish André Schürrle all the joy and happiness and goals at Craven Cottage as he can manage (except against Chelsea).
That said, here’s his lovely hat-trick against Fulham in 2013-14.