It’s safe to say that Oliver Christensen and the rest of the squad are putting in the hard work at the training camp in Florida. Although the sessions are tough, the 23-year-old goalkeeper is in his element. It is clear to see that even after the World Cup and a long winter break, Christensen is ready to give his all in Andreas Menger’s arduous goalkeeping sessions. The number one also believes that the rest of the squad are of a similar mindset: “The conditions here are great. Everyone is fit, getting stuck in and we’re all happy to be together again as a group. That is what is required,” he explained.
The Dane has spent almost two weeks away from his Hertha teammates. Following the World Cup in Qatar, the goalkeeper spent a couple of weeks recuperating in his homeland. This, however, made him all the more ready for 2023: “After two weeks I was already looking forward to being back with my Hertha teammates and being in Berlin. It’s a good sign when you miss your colleagues, right?”. We caught up with Christensen at the training camp discuss the togetherness within the squad, his unforgettable moments in a blue and white jersey and his aims for 2023.
herthabsc.com: Olli, we’re here at the baseball stadium at the IMG Academy, but we could’ve also gone to the tennis courts or the football field. Do you follow any sports other than football?
Christensen: I watch a lot of handball- I have friends that play in the German league and for the Denmark national team. I also like basketball which is a really intense sport. Due to the time difference we can watch some NBA games here in the evening. It can be a bit more difficult in Europe. But basketball is more about entertainment for me, it’s not like football which I’ve had a life-long love affair with.
I hadn’t seen my teammates for almost two months. It’s great to hang out with each other everyday again.[<]
herthabsc.com: Now onto the training camp. You have completed your first sessions after arriving in Florida. What do you think of the facilities and the atmosphere within the camp?
Christensen: The atmosphere is good and the conditions are great. Everyone is fit, getting stuck in and we’re all happy to be together again as a group. That is what is required. I hadn’t seen my teammates for almost two months. It’s great to hang out with each other everyday again!
herthabsc.com: You had a longer break of about eight weeks because you were away at the World Cup in Qatar. How do you look back on the tournament now some time has elapsed?
Christensen: I think it will take some time to sink in that I was actually at a World Cup. That’s what every footballer dreams of and it has been my dream since I was a young lad. That’s why it was such a cool experience and it’s given me an extra boost. A year ago I couldn’t have dreamt of representing my country. Unfortunately we didn’t achieve what we wanted and we didn’t reach our potential in the group stage. We were gutted when we had to return home and I was really disappointed. But we know we have a good team and we have to do better at the EUROS in Germany in 2024.
We want to fine-tune the things that are going well and improve on the things that aren’t quite falling into place. The goal is simply to play better and to pick up more points![<]
herthabsc.com: Did you still allow yourself the time to switch off over Christmas?
Christensen: I spent the whole time in Denmark with my friends and family. It was important for me. I don’t get to go home all that often anymore. It was great to recharge my batteries but after two weeks I was already looking forward to being back with my Hertha teammates and being in Berlin. It’s a good sign when you miss your colleagues, right?” (laughs).
herthabsc.com: And surely also the goalkeeping team, of which you are now the oldest member.
Christensen: That’s right. I was actually always the youngest goalkeeper. We train really well together and the atmosphere is great. There is a strong mentality. Maybe I have to show even more passion and lead from the front and the younger keepers might orientate themselves around me a bit more. Everyone of course gets angry when they make a mistake but it’s also on Andreas Menger and myself, maybe even more so, to take responsibility. We have a good dynamic in the group that works both ways.
herthabsc.com: In-between the World Cup, your time at home and the training camp, have you been able to review your past year at Hertha? There was the difficult spring, your debut in the relegation play-off and your rise to number one.
Christensen: Yes, all that already! The first four months were difficult. They were marred by injury and illness. We also weren’t clicking on the pitch. I will, however, never forget the relegation play-off. It was just crazy and emotional. We were all so happy after the final whistle. After that a lot of things worked out for me with my rise at Hertha and my call-up to the national team. On New Year’s Eve in 2021, I was grateful for the things that I had achieved but I really learned a lot last year. I have to keep at it even if things don’t work out. You also need to have fun with it.
herthabsc.com: What do you want to achieve in 2023? Both personally and with the team?
Christensen: I want to keep working on myself and I want to keep developing. But that is always the goal every year and it also applies to us as a team. We have shown some good performances but we haven’t picked up enough points. Our goal is to move up the table and in order to do that we need to stay positive. I have lots of faith in this team.
herthabsc.com: The fans have also shown confidence in your growth. What has been your perception of that?
Christensen: The support from the fans is fantastic but it’s been amazing since the play-off. The game in Hamburg was somewhat of a turning point. We realised what we could achieve as a team. We have to continue to stick together as a club, even in the bad moments. I have really felt that recently. I’m sure that the changes in our game that our coach is calling for will also help us. There’s more intensity, pressing and battling and that works for us. The fans can see that, too. They can see that we always want to give it 100%.