Berlin – It’s less than eleven months since Nils Körber got injured and subsequently lost his starting place at third-division side Preußen Münster. After around a month on the sidelines, the young goalkeeper returned to the squad but failed to make another appearance. “At the start of the year I was obviously frustrated to be injured and then lose my place in the team. I never got down about it, instead I carried on training hard,” reflected the 22-year-old. After returning to Berlin in the summer, he decided to go back out on loan to VfL Osnabrück.
Osnabrück will go into the winter break somewhat surprisingly top of the league and Körber has conceded the fewest amount of goals in the league, as well as having the highest average rating. “Our defence has been fantastic so far this season and has been a massive reason for our success. Obviously as the keeper I have played my part – but the whole team is responsible.” In an interview with herthabsc.de, the Hertha youth product discusses his personal development, his goals for the second half of the season and the contact he still has with people back home.
herthabsc.de: Nils, what did you do over Christmas and what are your plans for the rest of the break?
Körber: I spent Christmas time with my family. My brother who is currently studying at College in America came back as well. He is a year older than me and also played for Hertha’s U23s. We all had a nice and relaxed time. Now I will go away for a few days and switch off, before I start preparing for the beginning of training again. Our squad meets up again on the 4th.
herthabsc.de: Last season VfL Osnabrück had their worst ever campaign in the third division and fought against relegation. Just a few months later, you are now going into the break top of the league. How do you think this has happened?
Körber: I can’t really comment on what happened here last season. The club assembled almost a completely new squad over the summer and only a few players stayed on. We managed to gel quickly and had a great start to the season against Würzburg, where we won the game in the 93rd minute. After that we had a few close encounters, which luckily went our way – some again thanks to late goals. This is one of our biggest strengths as a team: We never give up and fight until the final whistle. Nobody expected us to be at the top of the league for such a long time, but this just spurs us on. We simply enjoy playing football.
herthabsc.de: You have had some personal success this season too. You went 735 minutes without conceding a goal and have kept nine clean sheets so far – a league high. You’ve also only conceded 13 league goals, which is the best in the league. Why have you been so good this season?
Körber: I felt that the head coach and goalkeeping coach (Rolf ‘Rollo’ Meyer) had a lot of confidence in me as soon as I arrived, but that isn’t the main reason. Our defence has been fantastic so far this season and has been a massive reason for our success. Obviously as the keeper I have played my part – but the whole team is responsible. We have only lost one game, because even when we aren’t playing that well, we are still solid at the back. Our game has been built on a compact defence and an attack, which is capable of winning games thanks to individual moments.
herthabsc.de: The side that has gone into the winter break top of the league has always been promoted to the 2. Bundesliga in the past few years. Do you think that you could achieve this feat this season with Osnabrück?
Körber: There are clearly teams who have more funds available to them. Nevertheless, we have a number of strengths that I have already mentioned: We all fight for one another and believe in ourselves. We have a great team spirit and our head coach Daniel Thioune makes every player feel important. The lads who have been on the bench a lot haven’t moaned about it; they themselves have come on to make the difference in some games. This helped win us games in the first half of the season and we hope it will carry on in 2019! We also know how tight the league is and how decisive the first goal in a game can be. One important thing is staying relatively injury-free.
herthabsc.de: Marius Gersbeck also – aside from a bad injury – had a good period on loan at Osnabrück. Why do you think young goalkeepers do so well at Osanbrück?
Körber: “Rollo” Meyer is very experienced and has improved a number of young goalkeepers over the years. He was a professional goalkeeper himself, so he knows what we need to be doing and how to help us. Marius also enjoyed working with him. Osnabrück have simply had a number of talented young goalkeepers in the last few years.
herthabsc.de: You spent the 2017/18 season on loan at Preußen Münster, Osanbrück’s rivals. Did you have any worries about signing for Osnabrück?
Körber: I was well accepted when I arrived here, despite spending a season at Münster. The fans have always supported me, which I am very grateful for. The atmosphere around the club has been positive throughout the season. The fans always drive us forward, regardless of the result. They deserve credit for our success too.
herthabsc.de: 2018 hasn’t been full of success for you though. You lost your starting XI place at Preußen Münster, before coming to Osnabrück. You have also played for Germany U21s. How would you sum up your whole year?
Körber: 2018 has been a really positive year for me. Obviously I was frustrated to be injured and then lose my place in the starting at XI at the start of the year, I never got down about it, and instead I carried on training hard. Sitting on the bench for a long time was a really learning curve for me, especially as I had never experienced that before. It’s great that my move to Osnabrück has worked out so well. Being called up to the U21s was also very nice. It’s definitely better to end the year on a high, instead of ending it on a bad note.
herthabsc.de: You were born in Berlin and grew up in the city, but have been away now for over a year and a half. What do you miss most about the capital?
Körber: I’m a massive city boy and grew up in the heart of Berlin. I love the city and its diversity. Münster and now Osnabrück are two very different places, mainly as they are so much smaller. I am happy living here, but when I get the chance, I gladly travel back to Berlin to see my friends and family.
herthabsc.de: Hertha are 8th in the league after the first half of the season. How do you think your old teammates have done and how much contact do you still have with them?
Körber: I follow the club’s results as much as I can. If I can, I still watch every game. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to go to a home game this season as I was always away from home with Osanbrück. That was a shame. I was in the ground in Dortmund, when we drew 2-2 though. A lot of the lads I knew have left since I have been away, but I still speak to Arne Maier, Maximilian Mittelstädt and Jordan Torunarigha. We will all see each other when playing for the U21s (providing we are all fit). Obviously I hope that the club improves in 2019 so that they can secure a good position in the upper half of the table.