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.
“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.