Berlin - Communication is a key part of being a professional footballer. Not only is it necessary in order to talk with the fans and the media, it’s also an important part of what happens on the pitch. Anyone who observes Alexander Schwolow at work will quickly realize that the goalkeeper recognizes the importance of this trait and is a firm believer in Bruno Labbadia’s philosophy of communicating as a team. After a rough start to the season, the ‘keeper believes the team are now “on the right path, and we’ve definitely already improved.” But he added that, “There’s always room for improvement. Thomas Müller was a good example of this when we faced him several weeks ago - he is constantly encouraging and leading his teammates. That makes things tough for every opponent.” Playing behind closed doors also gives goalkeepers another chance to impact the game. “As a player who gives directions, and especially as a goalkeeper, there are now more opportunities, for example when you see a chance to go on the attack and can alert your team to that,” Schwolow said.
Feeling at home at Hertha, full of praise for Petry
Schwolow’s aim when he signed for Hertha from SC Freiburg this past summer was to be a positive presence within the team. Schwolow has since become the club’s first-choice goalkeeper, and is a go-to communicator within the team and a well-liked interviewee by the media. “I’ve settled in well, feel good within the team and feel really at home,” said Schwolow. The goalkeeper was also full of praise for goalkeeping coach Zsolt Petry, calling his sessions “very creative. For example, Zsolt sometimes uses tennis balls to work on our coordination. It’s important to him that we learn to recognize situations early, and he’s working on getting us to anticipate that,” said the 28-year-old.
Hertha’s 3-0 win last time out will have been good for the team’s confidence. Schwolow showed what he’s been practicing, as he pulled off a great reaction save to deny Florian Niederlechner, and was rewarded with his first clean sheet for the Old Lady. “I see this game as the starting point, after we’ve witnessed a steady upwards trend in our past games where we managed to play better as a team,” he said. However, against FCA, Schwolow witnessed only a “small step in the right direction.” He added, “We’re not entirely satisfied, but we were finally able to see our hard work rewarded in Augsburg. Now, we want to further our development and continue on our path.”
Hard work pays off
This path forward is currently being interrupted by the third international break of the season, with 12 Herthaner off representing their countries. This leaves the team with only a small group to work with in training, which Schwolow calls “not easy, as it makes it difficult to practice in-game situations. But, we’re making the best of it. Our coaching staff has a lot of experience and are able to find ways to organize good training sessions.” The hard work is beginning to pay off, regardless of the interruptions. “We’ve always said that we need some time in order to find our way and we’ve also faced setbacks. But, our link-up play is becoming better, we’ve spent a lot of time together already, and our weeks of hard work are paying off!” he said. Schwolow is now looking to build on the team’s recent success, together with his teammates. “Everyone understands that we only stand a chance of getting better when every single one of us gives 100 per cent in every situation,” he said “If we’re able to do that, then we’ll be a good team!” The Blue-Whites will be looking to build on what they’ve accomplished so far, with communicator Alexander Schwolow between the sticks.