Berlin – As one famous Hertha career ended in the summer of 2012, so did another notable one begin. When current coach Pal Dardai hung up his boots five and half years ago to become youth team coach, Peter Pekarik was new to the capital, having just made the switch from 2009 Bundesliga champions VfL Wolfsburg to join a Hertha team trying to gain promotion back to Germany’s top table.
Since then a lot has happened. The Slovakian has been able to experience more than he thought was possible at Hertha. Now, the 26-year-old has pledged his future to the Blue and White shirt yet further, by today signing a contract extension beyond the end of his current deal this summer. “Hertha and Berlin means so much to me, and now so does this new contract,” said Pekarik.
herthabsc.de: Peter, only Fabian Lustenberger and Thomas Kraft have been at Hertha longer than you as it stands. What does this contract extension mean to you?
Pekarik: Hertha and Berlin means so much to me, and now so does this new contract. I’ve been here nearly six years now and I have experienced so much in that time. Berlin is my second home and Hertha is like my second family. The team was always my first choice and it was always clear to me that I wanted to stay here. As a result I am very happy that I’ll be staying here longer.
herthabsc.de: Bundesliga 2, bounce back promotion and the Europa League. You have gone through all the highs and lows of being in a Hertha shirt. What aims do you have for the future?
Pekarik: I’m loooking forward tot he challenges ahead with this great and talented team. I think we have progressed well over the past few seasons and developed a lot. It would be good if we could keep building on this. I just want to play as much as possible and help the team if I can.
herthabsc.de: At the age of 31 you have taken part in over 200 competitive games for Hertha and Wolfsburg. How have you changed as a pro?
Pekarik: That’s true I have been in the Bundesliga for nine years now. I have just developed naturally in that time. When I first arrived I was in a new country with a culture and I had to learn a lot of things. Everyone gathers experience as they age. I am now at the stage where I can start passing this experience down to the younger players. There are always instances in training, during the games or in the changing room where I help the young guys. That’s my attitude at the moment, I want to be a role model for those lads. If someone needs help then I want to be there for them.
herthabsc.de: 13 months ago you scored your first Bundesliga goal at the 151st attempt, and you scored another in the Europa League before Christmas. You’re certainly breaking yourself in…
Pekarik: It was about time I got one (laughing). I certainly had to wait a while……. It made the talking in the changing room stop as well (laughing). Hopefully I won’t have to wait as long for my next goals, I find the net quite a often in training!
herthabsc.de: You have a reputation among the fans as being ‚Mr Reliable‘, a view shared by Pal Dardai and the rest of the coaching team. Added to that, you often wear the captain’s armband. How much do you enjoy that?
Pekarik: I have started to pick up on these things – and of course I love hearig it. The fans are and always have been very important to me. When I play, I always give my all and I do everything I can to try and help the team win. That in turn makes the fans happy. To lead the boys out there as well on the pitch is a fantastic feeling and a great honour. Whether I have the armband on or not, I want to help my club.
herthabsc.de: One final question to end. Could you see yourself ending your career with Hertha?
Pekarik: I could definitely imagine that, but it’s too soon to be talking about such things. I hope most importantly of all to get as many games as possible before that.