herthabsc.de interviewed club captain Vedad Ibišević just after he had completed his performance diagnostics test. Even though Vedad is on a tight schedule, the experienced forward did not miss the opportunity to cheer and encourage his sweating teammates. The ‘Vedator’ is one of the most experienced players in the squad and has already celebrated two milestones this season – his 300th Bundesliga appearance and his 100th appearance in a Hertha shirt. In an interview with herthabsc.de, Vedad spoke about the special preparations for the second half of the season, his personal achievements from the first half of the season and the aims for the rest of the season.
herthabsc.de: Vedad, Happy New Year! How did you celebrate the end of 2018?
Ibišević: Thank you! I was in America, visiting my parents and sister in St. Louis. I was able to relax well over there. It was only for a few days but it was very nice.
herthabsc.de: Before the new year, an exciting first half of the season for Hertha came to an end. How would you sum it up?
Ibišević: I think that we started the season well, better than we expected. Then we fell into a little rut, where we missed out on some points. I think though that the first half of the season was decent and we have a good platform to work off for the rest of the season. We have to push on from what we have started.
herthabsc.de: During the first half of the season, you played your 100th Bundesliga game for Hertha BSC. What does this mean to you?
Ibišević: It’s crazy. It makes me very proud to have played so many games for this club. In total, I have played over 300 Bundesliga games. Considering the way it was before I came here, not many would have expected this to happen. For me, it’s evidence that my hard work here has paid off!
herthabsc.de: Speaking of numbers: In 19 games, you have scored eight goals and claimed one assist. What do you think of your personal achievements so far?
Ibišević: I could have maybe scored a few more goals, but all in all, I am satisfied with my performances. What makes me happy is that I helped the team by scoring in the DFB-Pokal as well as the Bundesliga.
herthabsc.de: On Thursday (03/01/19), preparation for the second half of the season began. What are your first impressions on the team’s condition?
Ibišević: They looked pretty good. The break was short so we haven’t had time to lose our physical condition! The fitness coach however also keeps us in shape as he has very high standards (smiles).
herthabsc.de: You’ve just completed your post-Christmas performance diagnostics tests. As an experienced player, you’ve prepared for the second part of the season many times before. Can you explain the significance of these first few days for a player?
Ibišević: The training programme which we’ve just begun is exhausting for any player, and I can’t say you look forward to it that much (grins). But it’s very important for us to prepare well, and such sessions like the one we’ve done today are an important indicator for the coaching team, to see what shape we’re all in.
herthabsc.de: You’ve now got 17 Bundesliga games to play, as well as the DFB-Pokal showdown with FC Bayern. What’s got to happen in the second half of the season so you can look back on it fondly?
Ibišević: We’ve now basically got to start from scratch. Everyone here knows just how good it felt to start the season strongly and earn universal praise. We played good football and had a lot of fun as a team. Achieving that isn’t easy however, so we must put in a lot of work beforehand. All the effort is worth it though. I’ve been around for a while now, and what I just spoke about is what you spend all your time working on – then playing football is really good fun.
herthabsc.de: Have you set yourself a personal target for the second half of the season?
Ibišević: I reluctantly set myself targets. Instead, I prefer trying to do my absolute best for the team every time I play. I do have one aim though – I’ve been here four years, and every season we always do better in the first half than the second half. Our aim has got to be to change that this year.