The Bundesliga regained one of its most colourful stars of recent years this season, when Prince Boateng returned to his boyhood club. After leaving Hertha Berlin at 20, Boateng went on to play for some of Europe’s biggest clubs in England, Italy and Spain – interspersed with spells at Borussia Dortmund, FC Schalke 04 and Eintracht Frankfurt. Now, he is back where it all began – his hometown club Hertha.
Prince Boateng talks about the club where it all began – and where he anticipates his playing career will end! The midfield general also reveals why Hertha are the number one club in town, and why winning against intra-city rivals Union is especially important to him.
Why is Hertha the number one club in town?
Hertha is known internationally and it’s simply the bigger club. Of course, in the last few years we haven’t always been able to show this, and the others are currently on a very good run. Union Berlin do what they do very well, but Hertha has been around for so long in the Bundesliga and is a big part of the league. This is not something that can be refuted.
Why is winning the derby especially important?
Winning the derby is definitely important. Union are playing well, but we have also been playing good football in the last few weeks – even if this has not always been the case in the last few years. It is going to be a feisty game and these games can often be turning points in a season. It is important for us to win this match to show that Berlin is blue and white, and always will be blue and white. It would also give us extra motivation for the season and would be great for the fans and for the team’s confidence.
Why does your heart belong to Hertha?
Hertha has been in my heart since day one – ever since I started playing football. I started my career here and I will finish my career here, and there’s nothing better than that. For me, it is one of the biggest clubs there is. It means a lot to me because I have had a plenty of experiences here. There are several clubs in Berlin that are cool, but Hertha is Hertha.
What is your approach for the derby this weekend?
For this game in particular, we are just going to concentrate on ourselves. We want to play our game and be aggressive because winning the tackles will be the key to winning the game. We need to prepare ourselves for this because they are a physical side and go hard into the tackles. They are very dangerous on set pieces and this is where we will have to be careful. Whoever goes harder into the tackles and wins the ball will take home the points in Berlin.
Are you confident that you can win?
You always need to be confident to push, especially in a so-called derby. We hope to be able to take home the three points and we will give everything to achieve that. The situation in the table does not look great at the moment, but we have been playing very well in the last few weeks. We were a little unlucky in the game against Leverkusen, but I have 100 percent faith in the team, and I am confident that we can get the win and will make the short journey home with the three points.
What is the situation like for the team at the moment?
It is not easy because there are a lot of players who have not yet had the experience of playing in this game. We know it will be a cauldron-like atmosphere because the red and whites do have good fans. It will be a fiery game and the lads just need to take the sting out of it in the first ten minutes. We just have to keep it simple and go hard into the tackles because there is very little that can be done as a “leader” or from the sidelines. Every individual reacts differently to a situation like this and although I have always enjoyed it, others might need a bit more time. It is a learning process that the lads are going through and once the first elbow flies in, they will be wide awake and will know that they are in the game.
What is it like to play a derby?
They are the best games. We all became footballers and work hard every day in order to play in games like this and to feel the adrenaline before the game, and then to go home afterwards with pain everywhere but with a smile on our faces.
What is your current role in the team and in the club?
I think I am important, and I feel this every day when I walk into the dressing room. I think the lads need me and I need them. I still feel good and have ambitions and as long as that is the case, I will keep giving my all. I am curious who is going to play alongside me on Saturday! In all seriousness, I recognise my role and I am there if the lads need me. I give everything and I push the team when it is needed.
In your opinion, who is the most talented player in your team?
There are several, but the one player who is really impressing and doing his job well at the moment is Marco Richter. Not many would have expected so much from him at the start, but he has worked hard and is now showing how much quality he has. Nowadays, there is an increasing emphasis on how much you run and how many tackles you win, but technically and in terms of ability, he is very strong. He is one of the most talented players alongside Jordan Torunarigha in defence, who also has an enormous amount of quality.
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy singing and I like going to the music studio. I also like playing PlayStation because it is something that calms me down. If I have a lot of things going around in my head or I am in a bad mood, I sit down and play PlayStation to relax. It’s good that everyone around me understands that and then leaves me alone.
Do you think that Robert Lewandowski will win the Ballon d’Or?
He 100 percent deserves it, but so do many other players. I’m never entirely sure how it is voted for because it could be for the best player or for the player who has won the most with their team. If it is for the best player with the most goals, then it’s Lewandowski, but if you are going on the most titles, then it’s Jorginho. I’m not sure what the process is, but if we are talking about an individual player in the last year, then Lewandowski clearly has to win it. It would also be nice to see a new player win it.