Before his first interview as a Herthaner, Oliver Christensen surprised everyone by giving a short speech in German. “I had German lessons for five years in school, and I’ve remembered a bit of it,” said the 22-year-old, speaking fluently and without mistakes. The Danish goalkeeper feels safer speaking English – as a ‘keeper, he’s all about safety on the pitch too. Christensen continued his speech in German and spoke about his move in both sporting and personal terms. “When I heard that Hertha were interested in me, it gave me a real kick. I immediately knew I had to take up this opportunity. Hertha BSC is a much bigger club than Odense BK,” the new number 32 for the ‘Old Lady’ explained. After this, Christensen spoke with herthabsc.com about his style of goalkeeping, his well-known Danish compatriots and typical character traits.
Herthabsc.com: First things first, Oliver, welcome to Hertha BSC. Does the name Kevin Stuhr Ellegaard anything to you?
Christensen: (He smiles) Yes, I remember him from the Danish league, but I know he played for Hertha. I’ve never met him personally, and haven’t spoken about my transfer to him, but when I was reading up about the club I encountered him. He was the only Danish goalkeeper in the club’s history. I’m super happy to be a part of this family now.
Herthabsc.com: Ellegaard was with us between 2005 and 2007, and now you’re following your compatriot here. You’ve moved from the Superliga to the Bundesliga, from Odense BK to Hertha BSC. How do you feel about your decision to move here?
Christensen: When I heard that Hertha were interested in me, it gave me a real kick. I immediately knew I had to take up this opportunity. Hertha BSC is a much bigger club than Odense BK – everything is more professional and just at a higher level. As a footballer, I always want to be improving and raise the level at which I play. It’s a big step from the Danish league to the Bundesliga, so now I want to get used to everything as quickly as possible and start becoming a better player.
[>]As a footballer, I always want to be improving and raise the level at which I play. It’s a big step from the Danish league to the Bundesliga.[<]
Herthabsc.com: What do you know about our club and the Bundesliga in general? Did you have anyone around to fill you in?
Christensen: I’ve followed the Bundesliga since I was a little boy, as the games were always shown on TV in Denmark. I know the names of most players, even if I’ve not met any of them yet. I have quite a long-standing connection to Hertha. I was in the stadium back in 2006 when Odense were knocked out of the UEFA Cup in the first round (he grins). Since that time I have followed the team now and again.
Herthabsc.com: At 22, you’ve played over 50 league games for Odense and represented your country at youth level, making your debut in the U21 EUROs for the ‘Danish Dynamite’. How would you describe yourself as a goalkeeper?
Christensen: I’d say that my strengths lie in reading the game from the back and recognising situations early. I enjoy playing behind the back line. I don’t usually have any nerves or anxiety before games, usually I’m quite excited. Of course, my main task is to keep the ball out of the net with my reactions, but I’m still young and I’m always improving, so that I can be number 1 one day.
Herthabsc.com: The name Schmeichel is synonymous with Danish goalkeepers. Did you look up to Peter and Kasper growing up, or do you have another idol?
Christensen: The Schmeichels are role models for most Danish goalkeepers, and that’s no different for me. I’ve never watched Peter in a live game, but I’ve basically grown up with him through videos and so on. Kasper plays in the Premier League and has won the title there. Naturally I look up to him, his skills, his charisma and his personality.
[>]The Schmeichels are role models for most Danish goalkeepers, and that’s no different for me. I’ve never watched Peter in a live game, but I’ve basically grown up with him through videos and so on. Kasper plays in the Premier League and has won the title there. Naturally I look up to him too.[<]
Herthabsc.com: Your move to Berlin is much more than just a sporting one – you’ve left your Danish homeland for the first time. How much are you looking forward to your new home and the new experiences you’ll have here?
Christensen: A lot! I’m sure my family will visit me a lot in the early days. My girlfriend is studying at University in Denmark, so she can’t move here with me right away, but she’ll come over as often as possible and then hopefully she’ll move here too. I’m happy being here on my own so far even despite it being so different moving to a new country. I want to set myself up here and make new friends. I was here in Berlin for a couple of days before New Year’s Eve. Of course, I haven’t been able to see everything, but I really enjoyed the city and its atmosphere. As well as that, there are a lot of lakes here that I can get out to and fish in. There’s lots of culture here and lots to do – there are only about 5000 people in my hometown so this is a really huge change, but I’m excited by it!
Herthabsc.com: One more question: describe yourself a little bit for our fans. What kind of guy are you, off and on the pitch?
Christensen: I love to win. I give my all on the pitch, in games and training. The fans who might have seen me in the U21 quarter final against Germany got a good impression of me (smiles). The relationship with the fans is important to me – in Odense I was one of them as I grew up as part of the club. I want to have a good connection to them here too. As a person, I’d say I’m quite relaxed and approachable, but I can do the crazy things that a makes a goalkeeper a goalkeeper (grins). In Denmark we use a lot of sarcasm, but I’ll have to see if that’s also the case here (laughs)!