Defiant Ricken on the up
By Alex Livie
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Once hailed as Germany's new wonder boy when the then 21-year-old scored the final goal in Dortmund's Champions League triumph in 1997, Ricken struggled to live up to the high expectations and completely lost the plot last year.
Ricken never recovered from the shock that he was the only outfield player in Germany's successful World Cup 2002 campaign not to be used at all.
He was plagued by countless injuries and spent most of last season on Dortmund's bench, fuelling speculation that he might have to leave the club where his professional career started as a 17-year-old.
Ricken has bounced back this term and, after helping BVB beat Vienna, said: "To me it's very important that I am fit again and am now able to defend myself against all the s*** thrown at me in the past."
The midfielder earned special praise from coach Matthias Sammer after building on his goal in the 2-1 victory at Vienna three weeks ago by scoring the winner on Wednesday night.
"Lars still has problems with his shoulder injury and needs injections before the game, but he is willing to fight hard and his form is certainly improving," Sammer explained.