Berlin – roughly 50 minutes had already been played in Nürnberg’s Max-Morlock-Stadion, and some build-up play from Vedad Ibišević and Valentino Lazaro allowed Ondrej Duda in on goal. With his first touch, Duda took the ball under control, and with his second touch, Hertha’s number 10 gave his side a 2-1 lead. It was not only a great goal, but an important one as well. The 24-year-old not only paved the way for the first successful start to the Rückrunde since 2010, he also then scored again, meaning he won his “watch bet” with Salomon Kalou. Ahead of the match against Schalke on Friday (25.01.2019, 20:30 CET), Duda spoke with herthabsc.de about his memories of the last game against Schalke, the sharp-shooting Slovaks and the “watch bet” with Salomon Kalou.
Herthabsc.de: Ondrej, after 18 matchdays you now have nine goals to your name. Should Marek Mintal be worried that you might eclipse him as the highest scoring Slovakian in Bundesliga history?
Duda: The Phantom? No, not at all! I can’t compare myself to him. He was just the definition of a fox in the box. How many goals did he score in the season where he was top-scorer?
Herthabsc.de: 24 - 32 in all competitions.
Duda: (laughs) Yeah so there’s still a long way for me to go.
Herthabsc.de: What comes to mind when you think about Schalke?
Duda: (grinning) Of course I think about the game in the Hinrunde. That was the first time in almost 14 years that Hertha had beaten Schalke. It was a big thing for the team to be able to stop that negative run.
Herthabsc.de: You scored twice in the game against Schalke, much like you did in the game against Nürnberg, and celebrated both in a similar way…
Duda: (smirking)… Yeah I saluted. That’s the way I used to celebrate during my time with Legia Warsaw. It’s a salute to the fans and my friends. There’s nothing more to it.
Herthabsc.de: Thanks to the 3-1 win in Nürnberg, Hertha had their first successful start to the Rückrunde since 2010. How important is a good start and in what ways can a win inspire a good run of form?
Duda: It is very important that we were able to stop a negative trend. It was a great feeling for the whole team to start the new year with a win. That doesn’t mean, however, that we will have a perfect Rückrunde from here on in. It was a good first step that we now must aim to build on.
Herthabsc.de: The next few games soon approaching. First, Schalke and Wolfsburg in the league (02.02.19) and then Bayern in the DFB-Pokal (06.02.19).
Duda: That is definitely a busy schedule and those are definitive games. It goes without saying that we all need to stay fit and concentrated on the tasks ahead, then we can take on top teams.
Herthabsc.de: So long as Marko Grujić stays fit, nothing can really go wrong, surely. The team has still not lost a game when Marko has been on the pitch. What does that show to you?
Duda: Marko is an enormously talented player who is very hard to get the ball off of. Of course it’s a shame that he’s only here on loan. In the few games that he has played for us so far, he has showed how important he is for the team.
Herthabsc.de: Finally we have to talk a little bit about the “watch bet” with Salomon Kalou, which was a very great for you really because you had nothing to lose.
Duda: To be honest, the whole story didn’t really influence me. It was not like I thought “Okay, if I just score three more goals, I’ll get a watch!” But yeah, it was a funny bet and we had a good laugh about it in training. It became a bit of a ritual to joke about in the changing room. Salomon was always joking about it whenever we were together. Of course, I’m glad that Salomon has settled one of his gambling debts. I thought about donating the watch’s worth and using it to get defibrillators for my home town, Snina, to improve medical care and give back to the people of my country.