BERLIN • There were only three minutes remaining in the first half of the low-key friendly between Germany and Armenia in June 2014.
It was still goal-less and, since Die Mannschaft were due to leave for Brazil the next day, the players were holding back a little.
Marco Reus, however, was chasing down an Armenian defender when, to the crowd's horror, he fell, screamed and pounded his hand in agony.
The Borussia Dortmund forward had torn his ankle ligaments. Ten hours later, the Germany squad set off for Brazil without him. Five weeks later, as they lifted the World Cup, they also held his shirt in the air.
But it is not only the Brazil World Cup that Reus has missed. Injury after injury has followed and the player, one of the best forwards of his generation, has sadly become one of the most unfortunate too.
He is 29 now but he has played only 30 times for Germany. In addition, he has, remarkably, won only one title, the 2017 German Cup.
Yet, here he is, on the brink of playing in a World Cup again and there is hope in Germany that luck can finally turn for the likeable Reus.
He is incredibly skilful, intelligent... and can always surprise his opponent. It all seems so, so easy for him.
JOACHIM LOW, Germany coach, on the mercurial talents of Marco Reus.
Germany coach, Joachim Low, is a huge admirer and has been showering Reus with praise.
"He is incredibly skilful, intelligent as a player and can always surprise his opponent," he said recently.
"It all seems so, so easy for him, but it comes from his exceptional timing. He is an extremely good passer and an outstanding finisher."
Reus' injuries have also affected his club career and have stopped him from fulfilling his undoubted talent.
Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has always had high hopes for Reus and spoke once about the player being able to "define an era for the club, in the way that Uwe Seeler did at Hamburg and Steven Gerrard at Liverpool".
Reus, son of a locksmith and an office clerk, grew up in Dortmund and supported the club as a child.
But then came the heartbreaking news: Dortmund let him go. He was too weak and too small, they said then. He would be back, though.
He moved to the then second-division side Ahlen, and from there to Borussia Monchengladbach.
He became more and more influential and, after he was crowned German Footballer of the Year in 2012, moved back to Dortmund.
The fans love him and suffer with him. In 2014, he was out for four months, two years later he missed half a year and then, in the 2017 German Cup final, he tore his cruciate ligament.
The following eight months were the longest time he had been out and he said during that time that he would "give up all the money to be fit and to be able to do my job, to do what I love: to play football".
And that is why the German fans want him, more than anyone else, to have a good, injury-free tournament.