Anyone feeling a pang of sympathy for those players omitted from the final squads for Euro 2016 should spare a thought for German midfielder Marco Reus, who was axed from Joachim Low's plans on his 27th birthday because of injury concerns.
Explaining his decision, Germany coach Low said that he could not be sure of the player's fitness. His club, Borussia Dortmund, later confirmed that Reus had an ongoing groin problem. It is the third time he has been ruled out of an international tournament.
"Marco has serious health problems," said Low. "At the moment, he can only run in a straight line."
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Despite his concerns over Reus, the German coach was prepared to gamble on the fitness of two of his favoured veterans, notes The Guardian. "Bastian Schweinsteiger was picked despite not playing since a partial ligament tear in national team training on 22 March, his second knee injury of the year, while Mats Hummels, who has a calf injury, also made the cut."
To make matters worse for the jilted star, The Independent reports how Reus's former Borussia Dortmund team-mate Mario Gotze sent a tweet wishing him a happy birthday and congratulating him on making the squad, just before Low announced that he had not been selected.
Gotze, who was included in the final squad despite spending most of the season on the bench for Bayern Munich, deleted his post and attempted to commiserate with Reus, but sent the subsequent message to someone with an entirely different Twitter account.
For Reus, the news of his omission is a "personal tragedy", claims Clark Whitney of Bleacher Report, who points out that the midfielder also "missed the 2010 and 2014 World Cups with injuries sustained shortly before both tournaments began".
The footballer played at Euro 2012, but will not get another chance to play at a tournament until the 2018 World Cup, by which time he will be 29.
"Reus's misery has not been limited to his career as a Germany international," says Whitney. "The attacking maestro has often played brilliantly on an individual level... Yet to date, he has never won a major trophy."
Dortmund finished second to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga this season and Reus also tasted defeat in the German cup final last month. "He now faces a turning point in his career, and it's uncertain whether he'll turn his pain into triumph or simply fade away," says Whitney.
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