Marco Reus' persistence and patience during his injury nightmares commands more respect than the "God-given" abilities of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, according to former Borussia Dortmund coach Matthias Sammer.
Reus has had to endure torrid luck with injuries over the last few years, with the German particularly struggling last season and during the current campaign.
After missing the first half of last season with a pelvic problem, he then went on to rupture a knee ligament in May, keeping him out until early February.
He made his return on February 10 in the 2-0 defeat of Hamburg and has played four times in all competitions ahead of Monday's visit of Augsburg, with Dortmund looking to claim a fourth successive Bundesliga win.
And Sammer believes Reus' battling makes him a "role model".
"I'm absolutely convinced by Marco and I have much more respect for him due to the situations that he has lived through," Sammer told Kicker.
Great to have you back on the pitch February 11, 2018
"If you take Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo now, who have had few injuries and played football for a decade at almost God-given levels, that is certainly wonderful and has my respect.
"But I think those situations that Marco went through are lessons for life. He is a true role model for many. Not giving up, continuing, surviving difficult phases, stabilising to continue living, showing motivation for the profession – that is Marco Reus."
Sammer also backed Peter Stoger to remain in charge of Dortmund beyond the end of the season, with the former Cologne coach inspiring an upturn in their fortunes since taking over from Peter Bosz in December.
"Of course, no question," Sammer said when asked whether Stoger should stay.
"Anyone who has shown such qualities, in a very difficult situation, there is not enough credit.
"The club, the team and the fans are united again. The start has been made and that stability has to remain, but what has already been done is extraordinary.
"I do not think they have to cross the finish line first to assess what Peter Stoger has done.
"The way Peter Stoger conveys calm, reassures and at the same time gives the team stability and freedom is exactly the right recipe."
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