Wolfsburg defender Paulo Otavio has issued an emotional apology after his shocking last-man challenge on Hoffenheim’s Mu’nas Dabbur and thanked fans for their messages of support after waking up from a ‘nightmare’.
With Hoffenheim leading 2-1, Wolfsburg poured players forward in search of a last-gasp equaliser in Saturday’s thrilling Bundesliga clash at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena.
Wout Weghorst had earlier levelled for Wolfsburg to cancel out Christoph Baumgartner’s 8th-minute opener before Andrej Kramaric put the hosts back in front on the stroke of half-time.
But Wolfsburg’s late attack broke down and came to nothing and Dabbur looked certain to extend Hoffenheim’s advantage given the visitors’ goalkeeper, Koen Casteels, was stranded way out of his goal.
Otavio had other ideas, though, and scythed Dabbur down with a horrendous two-footed challenge from behind just outside the box.
Referee Markus Schmidt wasted little time in showing Otavio a straight red for his professional foul and the tackle is being branded as one of the most cynical in Bundesliga history.
In a lengthy statement on Instagram posted after Wolfsburg’s 2-1 defeat, Otavio said: ‘Today was an “atypical” day in my life, I don’t know if I should say anything. But out of respect for all who support me, I will speak.
‘When I started in this sport, I didn’t imagine that I would get here. I dreamed, I dreamed a lot about several moments. Moments when I would leave games as a hero, smiling, on top of the world.
‘I would say that today would be one of the nightmares I had. But the worst thing about the nightmare is not when you “dream” it, it is when you keep remembering it.
‘Has this happened to you? Waking up from your nightmare and being afraid to sleep again, for fear of “dreaming” again?
‘After the game I retracted it, apologised to whoever I thought I should apologise to. Although I thought I was doing the right thing in that moment, I didn’t imagine it would be that bad.
‘I never meant it with malice, on the contrary, it was always with love. Love for those who cheer for me, love for those who follow me and love for sport, for life. I have made many mistakes for loving too much. And today, it was one more of them!
‘There was never any evil on my part. However, there is some malice in some people! Bad in judging, bad in pointing fingers. Simply forget everything that was built, for years and years, and say who you are, or who they say / think you are, for a fraction of a second.
‘Thanks to God I did not hurt my companion of work, for my willingness to stop the goal. But I believe that many have already been hurt by their judgments. Just like they are doing today!
‘Thanks for the support messages. We grew up with mistakes. The human being is flawed! God bless you all. Love, lots of love to you.’
Hoffenheim, meanwhile, have failed to live up to the standards they set last term – after securing Europa League football – and are languishing down in 11th place with just ten matches remaining of the season.