Kehl stands down as Borussia Dortmund captain

The 34-year-old says the time is right to pass on the armband for the coming season, while Jakub Blaszczykowski has vowed to be fit for the opening game of 2014-15
Sebastian Kehl has stepped down as Borussia Dortmund captain and vowed to help his successor as he enters the final season of his career.

The 34-year-old announced in March that he will retire at the end of his contract in June 2015, and he has now decided to step aside as captain to allow Dortmund to begin building for the future.

Kehl, who joined the club in 2002, has led a successful period in Dortmund's history, helping the German giants to two Bundesliga titles and the DFB Pokal since taking over the armband from Christian Worns in 2008.

However, after suffering with knee injuries in recent seasons, the midfielder believes now is the right time to allow someone else to lead the side under his guidance over the next year.

"I've decided to finish being captain from right now," Kehl told the club's official website. "I already told this decision to the club and the coach at the end of the last season.

"I was very proud to be captain of Borussia Dortmund, I was very pleased about it, it was a great responsibility for me.

"But responsibility also means for me to care for the team and for the club. And that is how I have always lived and understood my role.

"Now I want to deliver the baton, that makes absolute sense for me and it's also sustainable.

"Now there will be the possibility to help my follower as captain and to support him with all my experience from my last years."

Kehl hopes to finish his career with another league title and believes that, although Bayern Munich have dominated in the past two seasons, Dortmund can claim some silverware this season.

"I will try to give my best in the last season of my career and to play as much as possible," he added. "My role on and off the pitch will not change.

"The greatest thing would be to win a title at the end, that would be something very special for me, and I also wish this for my follower as captain because it would be a perfect introduction for him."

Meanwhile, winger Jakub Blaszczykowski has confirmed he plans to be fully fit for the start of the new season after battling back from a cruciate ligament injury suffered in January.

"It's gone well. I hope to be back in full training. At the start of the season I'll be on the pitch," the Poland international was quoted as saying by Bild.

"The important thing is you stay mentally strong. My wife and kids helped me during this time, I had a positive feeling from the first day after the injury.

"My goal has always been to come back just as strong as I was before the injury."