Having beaten cancer, just six months after he started receiving treatment for it in summer of 2022, pardon Sebastien Haller for thinking no opponent he'd ever face is invincible.

The knowledge that he is up to any test that comes his way, regardless of the odds, no doubt helped power him to the success enjoyed at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in his native Ivory Coast earlier this year.

Haller missed the first three games due to fitness issues, and only had a fortuitous series of twists to thank for even kicking a ball at all before the tournament was over; the Ivorian team narrowly survived the seeming certainty of an ignominious first-round exit to slip through into the knockout rounds.

That progress set the stage for Haller to take to the pitch and, in the last two two games, make all the difference his countrymen had hoped he would. He merely scored twice in the competition, but those goals won the semi-final (against DR Congo) and the final (versus Nigeria) for the Elephants, delivering the nation's third continental title and a glorious climax few would have thought possible only three weeks prior.

Haller returned to a hero's welcome back in Dortmund, but he has since not featured as often as he and manager Edin Terzic would like. The 29-year-old has only played four games and scored just once, kept out mostly by a bothersome ankle injury.

His last appearance for the club came in mid-April, away to Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga, and he was on the bench for both legs of the semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain, which Dortmund won to book their place at a second consecutive Champions League final to be staged at Wembley, England.

But even as he has spent time on the sidelines recovering, Haller has had a single date in mind: June 1.

“His goal is to be back for the final,” Terzic said at the time.

Now that date, that final, is here, and Haller would be hoping for a chance to make an impact.

It has been a rather lean season for Haller, who has played just 18 games and scored a meager three goals in all competitions. In the Champions League, Haller has only made a trio of outings — all after being substituted on in the last half-hour of games — none of those coming since the 2-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the quarter-final first leg, in which he scored to give Dortmund something to build a comeback on in the reverse.

In his place, Germany international Niclas Fullkrug has thrived, and would likely be the man to lead the line from the start for Dortmund against Real Madrid in the final. But Haller believes he would, at some point in the game, get his chance — and he should be ready when it arrives.

Haller has history, and perhaps unfinished business, with the Champions League.

Three years ago, as an Ajax Amsterdam player in the 2021/22 season, Haller grabbed a clutch of records for himself: the first to score four goals on his Champions League debut (since Marco van Basten in the competition's inaugural season), the quickest ever to double figures in Champions League goals (beating Erling Haaland), the fastest to reach 11 goals (needing just seven games), and only the second (after Cristiano Ronaldo) to score in all six Champions League group games of a campaign.

It was that blistering form that got him the move to Dortmund, a year and a half after leaving West Ham United as a flop following a big-money transfer. But Haller's hopes of picking up where he left off in the Dutch capital were dashed by a diagnosis of testicular cancer even before he could properly settle at his new club. He prevailed, though, as mentioned at the outset, and has emerged on the other side with a stronger mentality than he has ever had.

His country saw first-hand just how impactful he could be at the aforementioned AFCON, and now his club, too, might get a taste of that. In any case, if he needs extra motivation, Haller could draw it from the fact that the destinations of European inter-club football's other trophies this season have both been determined by African footballers — Nigerian Ademola Lookman’s hat-trick to win Atalanta the Europa League last week at the expense of Bayer Leverkusen, and Moroccan Ayoub El Kaabi’s winner for Olympiacos in Wednesday's Conference League final against Fiorentina.

Standing in the way of 1997 winners Dortmund is, of course, Real Madrid and their almost mythical aura that tends to overwhelm even the most pedigreed opposition. The Meringues last lost this fixture over four decades ago, and have triumphed on the eight most recent occasions to collect more than half of their record 14 European Cup/Champions League titles.

If presented with an opportunity by Terzic to have a go at slaying that great, white, multi-headed beast in London this evening, however, trust Haller to not shrink back. He has taken on and overcome worse, and, in a competition he certainly knows his way around, Haller will fancy his chances of coming out on top.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.