When it comes to soccer teams, there are few that have as deep of a connection with Americans as Borussia Dortmund. After all, USMNT hero Christian Pulisic was developed at the club, playing over 100 games for Dortmund, while up-and-coming prospect Gio Reyna has risen up the ranks in Dortmund. And, just as Dortmund loves Americans, Americans love Dortmund — there are nearly 30 official BVB fan clubs in the USA.
One of the many cities with a BVB fan club is New York City — the biggest city in the United States. I was recently given the opportunity to interview Tilo Zingler of NYC fan club Brooklyn Borussen to ask him about himself, Brooklyn Borussen, and, of course, Borussia Dortmund. Here are his answers in full:
What role did you play in the founding of Brooklyn Borussen?
I am the founder. I gathered contacts in person and digitally of fans in the area, coordinated the launch with the club, and located the best bar possible, Banter Bar in Brooklyn.
What attracted you to Borussia Dortmund?
Its passionate fan base.
What makes Borussia Dortmund and its fans unique?
The fans’ personal ownership in the club and the level of identification. Borussia IS Dortmund and vice versa. Despite the globalization of the game, BVB has preserved its traditions and roots better than most.
What is your favorite thing about Brooklyn Borussen?
The people! It’s an electric mix of different personalities and backgrounds, just like Brooklyn, but we’re all united in our support for Borussia and have a very strong sense of community. The joy and pain shared over the years bind you together. Stepping into Banter is stepping into your home.
Who is your favorite current Dortmund player? All time?
I don’t buy into the individualization of a team sport but I sympathize with someone like [Julian] Ryerson. There have been MANY fantastic players and characters but the greatest of all must be Micheal Zorc – 44 years of service during arguably the most successful period in the club’s 114-year history – German cup, Bundesliga champ, Champions League winner, Club World Champ – who can match that?
What is your favorite Borussia Dortmund memory?
Maybe the 2012 German Cup Final. I watched it with 20k other fans a stone-throw away from the Olympic Stadium in the Waldbuehne in Berlin and it was an absolute riot. I also really cherish the international trips. Madrid twice, Arsenal, Turin, the Wembley final – Borussia international is always special.
How does Brooklyn Borussen help Dortmund fans in New York connect?
It offers a tangible space, a home for any black and yellow aficionado on the tri-state. We have members, sympathizers, and quite a few German tourists coming through for games. If you’re good people and love Borussia you will also find a great community that does more than just watch games. We have food, host summer parties, and have the coolest swag.
What makes the Bundesliga special?
Its fans and the role soccer plays in Germany. Value is attributed by how much people care. German fans care a lot, but they’re also able to look beyond their club and understand there are some things bigger than their next tifo. Separated by colors united by cause – isn’t just a phrase. In the US people always talk about community – in Germany, it is lived.
What is one thing you would want people to know about yourself?
I’m working on a Borussia Dortmund book for American BVB fans. Most soccer commentary and books are very Anglo-centric. Fans in the US don’t care about a Convertry reference, they have their own sporting culture background that needs to be considered to explain something as intangible as the love for a soccer team 10,000 miles away. I can also name every German champion since 1949 and every World Cup Winner by heart.
How do you find time to manage the Brooklyn Borussen schedule?
If you’re passionate about something, you will always find time.
What are your hopes/expectations for Borussia Dortmund this season?
Become more than the sum of its parts, ignite the fanbase, and reach for the gold.
What role do you think fan clubs like Brooklyn Borussen have played in the growth of the Bundesliga and soccer in the United States?
A tremendous role! Supporter groups like ours or BVB ATL, LA, San Francisco, St. Louis etc. – they make the club visible and tangible locally. We’re a surrogate experience for everyone here who simply can’t attend games every other weekend. So we meet in our spots, with our people, just like a season ticket holder in the stadium. We check in on each other and then we support, cheer, and suffer with Borussia.
Which BVB players do you think will make the Euro 2024 squad for Germany?
Jule Brandt has probably been the most consistent of all the candidates. 2 of our 3 CBs will go, Emre Can still offers a boatload of experience and versatility you can always use at these tournaments and upfront, either Karim [Adeyemi] or Mouki [Youssoufa Moukoko] will join Fuelle [Niclas Füllkrug].
A big thank you to Mr. Zingler for his time — you can find more about Brooklyn Borussen on Borussia Dortmund’s official website.