Berlin – A few steps to the left, a dynamic run and a powerful leap – before you knew it Dedryck Boyata had headed fellow countryman Dodi Lukebakio’s precise corner into the back of the Köln net. The Herthaner rounded off a successful day’s work, with his first goal for the club making it 4-0 to the visitors. The new signing from Celtic has once again proven to be a crucial part of the Hertha defence, after overcoming a number of injury problems. The Belgian speaks about his rise to the starting XI, his first few months in Berlin and the game against Fortuna Düsseldorf (04/10/19).
herthabsc.de: Dedo, your social media channels were full of support from colleagues and fans after the victory in Köln and your first goal for the club – How many messages did you have once you’d looked at your phone?
Boyata: (grins) A few! Lots of old teammates and close friends wrote to me because we keep in regular contact. They knew exactly how much it meant to me, especially after the past three or four months. It was a tough time due to all the injuries, everyone is really happy for me and glad that I am back out on the pitch – it means a lot to me!
herthabsc.de: You managed to score a goal in just your third competitive appearance, and you also had a great scoring record at your former club Celtic, with eleven goals in 86 league appearances – is this something that Hertha fans are going to see a lot of?
Boyata: (laughs) Yes, I scored quite a lot of goals when I was in Scotland. Of course I want to try to score as many goals as I can here and to help the team as much as possible.
herthabsc.de: Despite your impressive performance, you said after the game that you still didn’t feel at 100% and that you need to try to be more ‘sensible’. Can you tell us a little bit more about this?
Boyata: For me, it’s just about using my body intelligently at the moment, and to not put too much strain on any of my muscles. When you’re a player that’s had lots of injury problems, you need to be careful in every situation so that it doesn’t happen again. I’m working with the manager and the coaching staff to control my workload both in training and out on the pitch, and it’s working really well at the moment.
herthabsc.de: Even if you aren’t currently playing at the very peak of your game, it is noticeable to see just how quickly you have adapted to both Hertha and the Bundesliga. What has made you settle in so well?
Boyata: I’m quite an experienced player now and have been surrounded by players throughout my career who have also suffered injury problems, and have worked hard to get back into the team. They are role models for me, and I have learnt a lot from them. I know my body really well and know what I can and can’t do on the pitch. I’m now looking forward to being able to prove what I can do, and to finally help the team on the pitch. At the same time, I have only just arrived and will continue working hard to stay fit and I hope that it will continue.
herthabsc.de: Do you feel at home in Berlin yet?
Boyata: Definitely. I’m very happy that I have been given the opportunity to come to Berlin. I’m slowly filling my apartment and making it more homely. At the beginning it was very empty since all my stuff was still in Glasgow. Filling out all of the paperwork such as insurance and opening a bank account was a bit of a nuisance, but that’s all done now (smiles). The most annoying thing is that I didn’t have internet in my flat for two months – I’m still waiting for a technician to come and install it (laughs). But these are just little things – overall I feel really comfortable and it will gradually start to feel more like home.
herthabsc.de: It’s a very small week before you are back in action again on Friday as Fortuna Düsseldorf come to the Olympiastadion. What type of match are you expecting?
Boyata: It’s going to be a very close, even game. So far it has felt as if every game in the Bundesliga is a tight contest. So it’s important that we put 100% effort in right from the start. It’s a home game, in front of our fans and under the floodlights – it’s a great setup but we can’t take anything for granted.
herthabsc.de: After a strong start to the season, Fortuna haven’t tasted victory for five games now so they will be desperate to take home the three points. What will be crucial for you as a team to be successful in this game?
Boyata: We need to use our week to prepare for the game as well as we can. Then we will talk with the coaching staff to come up with a game plan. We know that Düsseldorf can be a difficult opponent and we’re expecting that on Friday evening – it’s crucial that we stick to our game plan when we’re out on the pitch.