Ivory Coast striker Sébastien Haller is back in training at Borussia Dortmund after nearly six months away from football with testicular cancer.
Haller posted pictures Monday of himself training in the gym at Dortmund and said he is looking forward to returning to the field in 2023.
“Hello guys, I’m finally back,” he said in a video message on Dortmund’s social media.
“It was not that easy but with your support it was better and easier to do, so I’m just looking forward to seeing you in the stadium for some victories.”
A message from Seb 💛pic.twitter.com/RL7hy02rer
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) January 2, 2023
It’s a small but significant step on what remains a long road back to competition for Haller. The former West Ham and Ajax striker needed two operations and a course of chemotherapy.
Dortmund departs Friday for a winter training camp in Spain before the Bundesliga season resumes later this month following the World Cup and winter break. Dortmund said Haller “is set to be gradually introduced to the team” before he can return to playing.
It was during an off-season training camp in July 2022 that Haller received the diagnosis that turned his life upside down. Haller had signed with Dortmund from Ajax for 31 million euros ($32.8 million) plus potential future fees earlier that month and much was expected of him as a replacement for Erling Haaland, who had been sold to Manchester City. Haller requested a scan because of what he thought was a hernia after noticing stomach pain and indigestion.
The resulting treatments included four cycles of chemotherapy, each meaning five days in a hospital bed. Haller credited his physical fitness as a soccer player with increasing his resilience.
“I was a spoiled child; I never had any worries. This is the first big ordeal I had to face. Some people start their lives like that. I was lucky that it came later in my life so I can’t complain,” Haller said on the UEFA website in October.
“There is always someone who’s worse off and we need to put things into perspective.”
In Haller’s absence, Dortmund has struggled in the Bundesliga and is in sixth place, nine points off leader Bayern Munich. Dortmund returns to action against Augsburg on Jan. 22 in its first game since the winter break. Dortmund hosts Chelsea on February 15, 2023, for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 fixture.