Berlin - It’s well known that Hertha are committed to developing their own homegrown talents. A large amount of the first team squad have made their way through the youth ranks at the club to get to where they are now. One of the oldest of this group of players is Jordan Torunarigha, who came on from the bench for the injured Fabian Lustenberger in the first half of the game against Werder Bremen. He played brilliantly, and was rewarded with a place in the starting XI against Hoffenheim.
Ahead of the upcoming away trip to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday (10.02, 15:30 CET), herthabsc.de spoke to the 20-year-old central defender about patience, his role in the team, the best strikers in the Bundesliga and the upcoming clash with the “Werkself”.
herthabsc.de: After a long break, you were thrown out onto the pitch against Werder out of the blue. How do you stay focused enough to pull off as successful performance as you did?
Jordan Torunarigha: Yeah, I haven’t played in quite a while, but I kept telling myself: “Keep going! Keep going!” The chances will come, you can’t force things. I’m really happy that the coach trusted me enough to send me onto the pitch against Bremen. I’m very thankful for that. When you believe in yourself and have patience, the chances will come. And now I’m going to do everything to make the most of it.
herthabsc.de: It doesn’t seem to matter who plays in central defence - everyone who plays there seems to play well. Pal Dardai must feel very lucky...
Torunarigha: It’s definitely a positive thing. No matter if Nik, Lusti, Karim or myself gets the call - we all get along really well, on and off the pitch. We communicate a lot with eachother and the lads with more experience are always giving us younger players tips on how we can improve. It helps me a lot.
herthabsc.de: Which player do you model yourself after the most?
Torunarigha: Karim has already played for the Dutch national team, has an unbelievable presence on the pitch and deals with everything out on the pitch so well. I really look up to him.
herthabsc.de: Hertha BSC are very confident in their self-developed players. Nevertheless, how tough is it to deal with the loss of a leader like Sebastian Langkamp?
Torunarigha: It’s obviously a tough loss. But with Karim Rekik we have a centre back who is a real leader for our team - he’s experienced a lot despite his age. Basti has done a lot for Hertha over the last few years and was a reliable figure in our defence. I wish him all the best with Bremen.
herthabsc.de: You seem to be on an upward trend at the moment. How satisfied are you with your progress?
Torunarigha: I think I’m doing okay, but you can always be getting better - especially at my age. You can never be satisfied with what you’ve done in the past. You have to prove every day in training that you deserve to be in the team.
herthabsc.de: On the weekend, Hertha face a trip to Bayer Leverkusen. What have you taken from their game against Bremen?
Torunarigha: You can tell that Leverkusen are on a roll at the moment. Their quick wingers are extremely dangerous and can shoot from distance. It will definitely be a challenge, but I think we can come away with something if we are disciplined in defence.
herthabsc.de: Do you think that the “Werkself” will be tired from playing 120 minutes in midweek?
Torunarigha: I think that teams are so well prepared nowadays, that it doesn’t make much of a difference. They will try to recover and prepare to face us as best they can.
herthabsc.de: What will it come down to on Saturday?
Torunarigha: Like in the other games we’ve played recently, it will be important to be organised in defence. We have to be patient and can’t be make rash decisions. It will obviously help if we get out to an early lead to take the pressure off of us a bit.
herthabsc.de: You’ll have to deal with players like Leon Bailey on Saturday. Are you at the stage where you can hang with the best attackers in the Bundesliga?
Torunarigha: As a young player it’s obviously something special to go up against those kind of players. Just like the rest of his team, he’s on a great run of form. We will do all we can to stop him and the rest of Bayer Leverkusen.