Marko Grujić has certainly made a good impression in Berlin since his arrival. As long as the Serbian has been on the pitch, Hertha BSC have not been beaten. The central midfielder scored his second goal for the club last Friday against Schalke 04. There was reason to be happy for Grujić last year and it was not only down to his two goals and strong performances, but Hertha’s Number 15 also celebrated his friend’s victory in the Australian Open, where history was written. In an interview with herthabsc.de, Grujić spoke about his sporting idol, his misunderstood goal celebration against S04 and the upcoming game against VfL Wolfsburg.
herthabsc.de: Marko, Novak Djokovic won his 15th Grand Slam as he won the Australian Open. Your followers on social networks have seen that the 'Djoker' has not only been thrilling the tennis world. Are you a big fan?
Grujić: Yes definitely! He’s a fellow countryman who I always have my fingers crossed for. I’m also good friends with his younger brother Djordje. I enjoy watching tennis, but I like to follow sports in general on the TV! ‘Djoker’ has done incredible things in his career and is one of my sporting idols.
herthabsc.de: Djokovic is without a doubt an exceptional sportsman, but you also have footballing idols. You seemed to celebrate like Cristiano Ronaldo when you scored against Schalke...
Grujić: ...I thought I was copying another player (laughs)! The Serbia national team captain Aleksandar Kolarov scored a beautiful goal in the World Cup and I wanted to copy that celebration. I guess it is similar to Ronaldo’s celebration, especially with my body. Therefore, people probably thought that I wanted to imitate him, but I can live with it (grins).
herthabsc.de: Would you say that he is also one of your idols? Which footballers inspire you the most?
Grujić: Ronaldo is a role model for every sportsman. He works hard every day and always wants to improve, even when he is successful. When I was a child, Nemanja Vidić was the best player from Serbia – unfortunately he played for Manchester United and so I can’t say he was my favourite player (laughs). He always worked hard to the team and was very influential, for the Serbia national team too. I also admire Lionel Messi. The remarkable things he does on the pitch will never be forgotten.
herthabsc.de: A remarkable achievement is your unbeaten run since coming to Berlin. Hertha BSC haven’t lost a game when you have been on the pitch. How do you feel about this?
Grujić: I have spoken about this statistic many times, some Hertha fans say I am like a Talisman (smiles). I can’t say often enough though, that it is not only me but the whole team are responsible for this stat. I am just a part of a good team!
herthabsc.de: In the run up to the season, Pál Dárdai and his coaching team experimented with different tactics and now the team are very flexible and are adaptable. Recently the coaches have been picking a back three and two up front. How are the recent changes affecting your game?
Grujić: Depending on how defensive we play, the role for the midfielders does change. If we play with three in midfield and five at the back, then as midfielders, we have to press earlier and position ourselves in more offensive positions. Since we practise different formations in training, changing from one to the other is not a problem. Basically, the tasks for me remain the same: stay solid defensively and find solutions going forward!
herthabsc.de: In the first half of the season, you made your comeback after your first injury and scored in your third game after, against Frankfurt. You then scored your second goal against Schalke 04 last weekend – the second game after coming back from injury. How do you get back into shape so quickly?
Grujić: It is not easy, but extremely important that players who are injured work hard in individual training with the fitness coach before making a quick recovery to first team training. It also helped a lot that the coach has emphasized how much everyone was looking forward to my return. That really spurred me on. I'm not back to 100 percent yet, so I hope to give the team more game by game!
herthabsc.de: A win in Nürnberg and a point against Schalke – how would you rate the start of the second half of the season?
Grujić: We’ve started with four points. Schalke are a good team and we can be satisfied with a point. We want to and must continue how we have been playing against Wolfsburg. We need to simply work hard from game to game and we can make it the best second half of the season in recent years!
herthabsc.de: You can make the next step this Saturday against VfL Wolfsburg (02/02/19, 15:30 CET). What sort of game do you expect against the ‘Wolves’?
Grujić: I am very excited for this game and expect a difficult encounter. Wolfsburg have put in good performances away from home. I followed their match in Frankfurt, where Eintracht were clear favourites, but VfL put in a very disciplined defensive performance and were ice-cold upfront. We will give everything to keep the three points here. A home win would be extremely important and is it our aim to ensure it happens!