Cologne (dpa) - The fact that Rafael Czichos was touched and happy despite the defeat of his team, did not resent him - quite the contrary. The comeback for the defender of 1. FC Köln, 101 days after he almost suffered paraplegia on the soccer field, moved everyone.

"That is very, very enjoyable about this game," said coach Markus Gisdol after the 2: 4 (1: 2) home defeat against RB Leipzig: "He did it brilliantly. Hats off!"

The shock minute from the game at Hertha BSC on February 22 (5-0) was evident again at Gisdol at this moment. After a header duel with Marko Grujic, Czichos remained motionless, his team-mate Kingsley Ehizibue knelt down and prayed for him.

Czichos had to undergo a complicated cervical spine operation. "It became apparent that the cervical spine was really completely torn at one point," said Peer Eysel, the operating clinic director of Cologne University Hospital in the club's own documentary "24/7 FC": "He was damned lucky. There are many, including athletes, who are paraplegic in such a situation. »

Eysel's advice was clear: "I would not play this season anymore." That was before Corona, of course, when the end of the season was still set for May 16. The doctor would certainly see it that way at the end of the new season, said Czichos in early April. And he would “not challenge his fate either”. But he has the dream of playing again this season.

Defense chief Sebastiaan Bornauw was red-barred against Leipzig and Czichos made progress in training. «We asked ourselves: Rafa makes such a good impression. What should we wait for, »said Gisdol. He brought the 30-year-old from the start. And despite the four goals, he made a decent game.

"It was a very, very nice feeling to be on the pitch after such a long time," said Czichos, who was born in Saudi Arabia because his father worked there: "The fact that we lost is a bland aftertaste. But for me personally it was a very nice step. » And you could tell his colleague: not just for him.