The Mark Brandenburg Resort Hotel terrace right by the picturesque shores of lake Ruppiner quickly filled up on Friday afternoon when Prince Boateng sat down for his informal press conference. "After two or three days it’s hard to already have concrete expectations or analyse anything," said the 34-year-old Berliner. Despite the short time, however, Boateng has been able to gain a few insights. "It’s a young group that needs leadership – I’m looking forward to that. There are some talented lads in the group. There are some lads where you can tell after five minutes on the pitch that they are really, really good players." Music to the ears of Hertha fans. Aside from that, the Hertha returnee spoke about…
… his first impressions: I still can’t really believe that my dream of a return home actually came true. It’s a wonderful feeling. Hertha BSC will definitely be my last season as a pro. From a footballing perspective, it’s hard to have any clear expectations or give any real analyses after just two or three days – also because we’ve not done anything tactical yet. We’re just building up our fitness first – that’s the basis for everything. It’s a young group that needs leadership, I’m looking forward to that. There are some talented lads in the group. There are some lads where you can tell after five minutes on the pitch that they are really, really good players."
... the transfer process and the role of Fredi Bobic: We've been working on it for almost five years. I never gave up the dream of returning to Hertha. I read that Pál wanted me too - he could have just called me (winks). We started talking intensively one and a half years ago. With Fredi's return, things started to move. He said to me that there was a chance and I told him I had the dream of wearing this shirt one more time at the Olympiastadion. Then he just said: "Then we will do everything we can to make that dream come true!
[>]Fredi said to me that there was a chance and I told him I had the dream of wearing this shirt one more time at the Olympiastadion. Then he just said: "Then we will do everything we can to make that dream come true![<]
... seeing Hertha BSC from the outside: What was always positive was how much the club relies on young players and gives its home-grown players the chance to see the big stage of Berlin's Olympiastadion at an early age. That was different during my time. Recently, perhaps we have lacked a bit of experience, the penetration on the pitch and squad depth. But we're all working on that together. The past two years in particular have been hard work, but we will do everything we can so that things go much better this season.
... his leadership style: Leadership always depends on what characters exist within a team. I think some of our guys need a bit of help because they are very young and have a difficult season behind them. But in the end they did fantastically, came back strong from quarantine, fought and won games. The team showed character. Of course, we don't want to find ourselves in a situation like that again. That requires some support here and there - from the coaching team, from me or from other experienced players who know how to react in certain situations.
... his physical condition: I have work to do, I know that (grins). The Bundesliga is even more athletic, on average, the players are even younger. Everyone can run forever - luckily I have a good positional game. But no one is completely fit in the first week of training. That's why we're here in the training camp, we want to get the best out of every session. I'm experienced enough to know when and how I can go to the maximum, and whether on certain days it might be better for a younger player to do so. I didn't come to Berlin to be the boss and play every game. The important thing for me is to get fit and help where I can. Pál told me that there is a special plan for the players over 30. I have no idea what the programme exactly looks like, but I'm looking forward to it, because I think it will be less demanding... (laughs).
… the meaning of his shirt number 27: It’s the number I had when I signed my first professional contract and played my first game for Hertha. That's why I always wanted to wear it, it's my favourite number!
... his first time at the 'Old Lady' and differences: A lot has changed since then. What is still the same? Zecke' is still here (laughs). But the training ground, the dressing rooms - all that has changed and are like those of a top club. But the soul of the club is still the same - and that makes Hertha great. The fact that Pál is there, 'Zecke', Arne - all of which I played alongside, Fredi also played for the club. It's very important to keep that Hertha DNA in the club!
[>]The training ground, the dressing rooms - all that has changed. But the soul of the club is still the same - and that makes Hertha great. The fact that Pál is there, 'Zecke', Arne - all of which I played alongside, Fredi also played for the club. It's very important to keep that Hertha DNA in the club![<]
... his career: I was never scared of doing something new. Everything I've done has benefitted me a lot. I've learned languages and new cultures, I've grown up and made lots of new friends. From a sporting point of view, the game always remains the same, football is football. But in Spain and Italy, for example, the focus is more on tactics and less on physicality. As a player, you always have to adapt to things - but luckily we Berliners are chameleons. Wherever the journey takes us, we can adapt!
…identification: As a player, you need to know what the club badge or crest menas. Even if, like me, you’ve played for a lot of different clubs, it’s still important. I always understood that for fans, the club they support is their life. We all have to respect this and work hard as professionals to make them see that we respect it. Now that I’m back home, there’s a lot I want to achieve. I want to give Hertha and Berlin something back. Everything I’ve been able to experience in my career I owe to this club and this city!
… potential lessons learned from the Euros and possible conclusions for Hertha BSC: It’s always amazing to see time and time again how much can be achieved with team spirit and togetherness – not just at this tournament. All of them can play football, but a good team needs to show hunger and passion on the pitch. A lot of younger players have trouble doing this in my opinion. It needs to be hammered home, because when you manage to show this desire on the pitch, then you can achieve things that nobody would think are possible, like back then in Frankfurt. This is something that I would like to hammer home with our younger players. A lot of them have so much talent, but that alone is not enough. I only realized this when I was about 23 or 24. If they can realize it sooner, then it will open up a lot more doors for them.