Bild: citypress

Sense of home

For Valentino Lazaro, the training camp in Schladming is a bit like going back home. The Austrian is enjoying Hertha’s stay in his homeland and cannot wait to start the new season.

Schladming – For most of the Hertha players the training camp in Austria can be a welcome, as well as tiring change to the daily routine in the capital. For Valentino Lazaro however, it is a lot more than that: “For me it is almost like going back home, especially as we landed in Salzburg. Just looking out the windows and seeing the mountains gives me a strong sense of home. It’s lovely to be back,” said the Graz-born midfielder, ahead of his second season in a Hertha shirt.

Even though Lazaro is enjoying his days back in his home country, the 22-year old has nevertheless settled in perfectly at Hertha BSC. The Austrian signed for Hertha on loan from RB Salzburg in August last year, before Hertha activated the purchase option in the contract. Lazaro then agreed to sign a long-term contract, his first at a foreign club. Hertha’s number 20 was a regular in the Salzburg academy teams from the U15’s to U18’s, getting a call-up to the first team squad at just 16. Here he managed to add five championship titles and four cup victories to his CV. Despite his young age, Lazaro is very much a mature and almost complete professional, displaying this on the pitch as well as off it with his media appearances.

Overcoming obstacles

“Tino’s” calm mentality has also helped to get over a number of difficulties. As he signed for Hertha he was suffering with an ankle injury, which ultimately kept him out of the Hertha’s whole pre-season. “To make the move to Berlin was a dream; I was so desperate to play in the Bundesliga. However at the beginning it was very hard for me to not be able to train with the lads because of my injury,” the Austrian remembers. After this, he fought his way slowly into the team with a few brief appearances. His first highlight in a Hertha shirt came in the last match before Christmas, as Lazaro made two goals and played the whole game in Hertha’s 3-2 away win at RasenBallsport Leipzig, despite Hertha playing the majority of the game with ten men. Lazaro had also impressed greatly on the international stage during the UEFA Europa League campaign.


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"The second half of last season was definitely good for me personally."

Valentino Lazaro

Ready for the next step

In his first Bundesliga season, Lazaro made 26 appearances, scoring twice and making five goals in total. It will be interesting to see what a fully-fit Lazaro can achieve with Hertha this coming season. “It’s a massive bonus that I will have a full pre-season’s training behind me. Therefore I cannot wait for it all to begin,” said the quick winger. “The second half of last season was definitely good for me personally. These are the kind of performances that I want to produce and even improve on.” Regarding the current aims of the squad, Lazaro said: “First of all we want to start with a victory at home against Nürnberg. To start the Bundesliga with a home win would give us plenty of confidence and would make it easier for everyone to play, put us under less pressure, enable us to have more fun and keep a positive atmosphere up in the team.”

Lazaro also recognizes that when the opportunities came in the second half of last season to make progress up the table, the team couldn’t capitalize: “We often had games, where we had the chance to move up the league, but we always failed to do so. This season it is important that we start well and then stay consistent.” Lazaro also has clear aims for himself for the coming campaign: “It would be nice to be involved in at least ten goals. First and foremost, I want to take more responsibility in the team.” Before the new season can begin, Lazaro is still however happy to enjoy the remaining days in his homeland with the background of mountains. Before they return to Berlin however, the squad will have to survive fitness coach Henrik Kuchno’s training programmes.

                                                                                                                                                                    

Teams, 07.08.2018
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