Wind and rain at the Olympiastadion? Tolga Ciğerci can still remember it well. But even the bad weather can’t extinguish the positive anticipation ahead of his return to Hertha BSC. “It is nice to be back. I didn’t have to think too long because I had a good time here in the past,” said our new signing. Since leaving Berlin in 2016, almost seven years ago, a lot has changed for him in the fast-moving world of football, but the connection between Hertha’s new number 6 and the ‘Old Lady’ has stayed the test of time. “Obviously I have always followed Hertha closely. I would like to help the team with my performances and experience both on and off the pitch.” In his first interview after rejoining the club, Ciğerci spoke to herthabsc.com about his decision to return to Berlin, important values to him and his personal objectives.
herthabsc.com: Tolga, welcome back to Hertha BSC. Take us through it all: How did the transfer come about? What thoughts went through your head when the inquiry came?
Ciğerci:Really, the transfer got over the line very quickly. On Sunday evening, my agent told me in short that something could happen with Hertha. I said to him then that I was open to that and ready. On Monday, things then got more serious, the conversations withBenjamin Weber and Zecke were good. I didn’t have to think too long because I had a good time here in the past. I also have to thank the management at Ankaragücü, everything was cleared up respectfully. As I said, it was a quick decision for me, I didn’t have to mull it over too long and I am very happy to be here again.
herthabsc.com: You’ve spoken about playing in blue and white in the past, the Old Lady is the team in Germany that you’ve played the most games for. What does Hertha BSC mean to you?
Ciğerci: A lot! This team definitely means a lot to me! I had a good time here and developed a lot – although I was also unfortunately injured during that time. But, that is a part of football, and when I look back now, I do so fondly.
herthabsc.com: You were captain at Ankaragücü. Is leading something that you would like to do again as a Blue-White?
Ciğerci: Yes, definitely – and it doesn’t matter if I’m captain or not. In the last seven, eight years I have gained a lot of experience. I have developed in that time as a player, but also as a person, and have taken on more and more responsibility. I have enjoyed doing that and I would like to also do that here. I would like to help the team with my performances and experience both on and off the pitch.
I have developed in that time as a player, but also as a person, and have taken on more and more responsibility. I have enjoyed doing that and I would like to also do that here.[<]
herthabsc.com: How can you help to bring more stability to a team which has started the New Year with three straight defeats?
Ciğerci: In Turkey, I played in a lot of positions, sometimes more attacking, sometimes more defensively. My main position was always as a six. It is here on the pitch that I can have the most influence and try to provide that balance. That is my aim. It is here that I have had my best performances. I can promise the fans, the club, the coach and my teammates one thing: I will always give absolutely everything to put in a good performance and to help the team.
herthabsc.com: You’ve played alongside the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Mesut Özil and the pressure to succeed was extremely high at these big clubs in Istanbul. What lessons have you taken from that?
Ciğerci: Those names given, for example, were world class players. Obviously, I could learn a lot from them and have taken with me how I can deal with certain situations better, especially under pressure. Their experience and the clarity with which they act on the pitch was really impressive. Even if they didn’t always talk that much on the pitch, their personalities had an unbelievable influence. I spoke with them a lot – especially with Wesley Sneijder. I have definitely taken some of that with me. Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe are two huge, huge clubs and sometimes it was not easy because there was enormous pressure there. All in all, the importance of football in Turkey is really enormous. I think that my time there has prepared me well for the challenging sporting situation at Hertha.
herthabsc.com: You wore a Hertha shirt for three years. From your former time there is still a few of the same players. Who have you stayed in contact with and maybe spoke to ahead of the move?
Ciğerci: I have been in contact with Platte [Marvin Plattenhardt]from time to time, otherwise the team has completely changed over all these years. But obviously I have always followed Hertha closely and have a connection to Berlinbecause my family and friends live here. When I arrived on Tuesday, I saw fitness coachesHenrik Kuchno, Hendrik Vieth and the physio Freddy Syna, for example. That was very funny and brought old memories straight back. I really had a lovely time here and got to know some great people. The fact that some of these are still here and have welcomed me back so warmly, makes me really happy. I hope that I can pay them back with my performances!
herthabsc.com: There are only a couple of days now until the first game in Frankfurt…
Ciğerci: … and I am absolutely ready! Obviously, the coach has to decide what the right thing is. I think that we will talk about that more seriously in the next few days. In any case, I can hardly wait!