Maximilian Mittelstädt is here to stay! On Wednesday, our academy product – who has been at the club since 2012 – announced that he had extended his contract until 2027. “Everyone knows what Hertha BSC means to me. I’m a Berliner, I’m a Herthaner and I’ve grown up with this club. It was always my dream to play for the Old Lady. The length of this contract signifies the relationship and the mutual respect both parties have for each other, and that we’re counting on each other for the long term,” said Mittelstädt. In an interview with herthabsc.de, the 25-year-old spoke about his connection to the club, old and new memories and what he hopes to achieve in Berlin.
herthabsc.de: Maxi, congratulations on your contract extension! Let’s start by talking about a specific date: does 19th August 2015 ring a bell for you?
Mittelstädt: Hmm, that was around the time I became a professional. Maybe signing my first contract? I was very, very happy about it. It was something very special for me. As a youngster, I’d always dreamed about this day, and then it finally came true.
herthabsc.com: And 2nd March 2016?
Mittelstädt: That must have been my Bundesliga debut (grins). I was subbed on shortly before the final whistle, and we were winning 2-0 against Eintracht Frankfurt – I was so nervous. When they called me back to the bench to put my shinpads on, I nearly cut off my circulation because of how tight I taped them (laughs). But I didn’t care, I just wanted to get out on the pitch as quickly as possible. That was an indescribable moment for me. My first time playing at the Olympiastadion and celebrating a win with the fans in the Ostkurve. I was equally as excited when I made my first start against Bayern München a few weeks later.
herthabsc.com: You extended your contract in 2017 and 2019, and have now done so again – this time, until 2027. What does it mean to have signed a long-term deal at the club you’ve been at since 2012 and where your career began?
Mittelstädt: Everyone knows what Hertha BSC means to me. I’m a Berliner, I’m a Herthaner and I’ve grown up with this club. It was always my dream to play for the Old Lady. I’m extremely pleased, and so are my friends and family. The length of this contract signifies the relationship and the mutual respect both parties have for each other, and that we’re counting on each other for the long term.
herthabsc.com: You've gone from an academy product to a first-team regular in the Bundesliga. You’ve experienced what it’s like to compete in Europe and to battle relegation. Are there any games, moments or stories that you often think back on?
Mittelstädt: There’s not really one game in particular. The relegation battle is still fresh in my mind, as are the late goals we conceded in Dortmund. I’m focused on what’s still ahead. Every so often I think about those European nights or certain goals, especially those at the Olympiastadion. My friends send me videos sometimes as well. Recently, a friend sent me a short clip of me messing up a throw-in, because the ball slipped out of my hand… (laughs).
[>]I’m a Berliner, I’m a Herthaner and I’ve grown up with this club. It was always my dream to play for the Old Lady. The length of this contract signifies the relationship and the mutual respect both parties have for each other, and that we’re counting on each other for the long term.[<]
herthabsc.com: You’ve made nearly 150 competitive appearances for our club. In this time, how much has Maximilian Mittelstädt changed, both as a player and person?
Mittelstädt: I’d say that I’ve gotten more mature, both as a player and on a personal level (grins). It’s normal to change. As a youngster, I couldn’t really imagine what was all going to come my way and how I would deal with making mistakes. As a professional, tough times are part of the job and they’ve helped me grow. It was nice to see how my friends and family stood by me during these tough times. In the end, you can’t lose faith in yourself, you can’t be afraid to make mistakes and you can never give up.
herthabsc.com: Did it perhaps give you a bit more wind in your sails to run out for your favourite team from your city?
Mittelstädt: (considers) Perhaps as a player from our own youth system who has been at the club so long I feel a bit more pressure than players that don’t come from Berlin. Although, I wouldn’t say that they identify with the club any less. Absolutely not. But I have been connected with Hertha for as long as I can remember. My family and friends are all Hertha fans and I would like to give something back to them and make them proud. Our ‘Old Lady’ is so close to my heart because of this as well.
herthabsc.com: Because of this we have also found lots of old pictures of you wearing blue and white shirts. Do you still remember back then how it all began?
Mittelstädt: There isn’t this one stand out moment where I said, ‘Now I’m a Hertha fan’. Or at least I don’t remember one (grins). I grew up in a football-mad family, Hertha was always a topic of conversation and came in first place. Even as a young boy I wanted to play for the club and always hoped to achieve that as I collected autographs at Schenckendorffplatz or celebrated in the stadium.
herthabsc.com: Finally, if we look ahead to the future: What expectations did those responsible set in your contract talks and what aims do you have for yourself?
Mittelstädt: It’s a cliché, but I would like to take that next step. As a footballer, I can always develop further, learn more and improve. I am working towards that every day. My aim is to assert myself as a key player and then help the team consistently and in the long-term. The contract talks also went in this direction. In the next few months, however, it is about collecting points as quickly as possible in order to build the gap to those below us.
herthabsc.com: What reasons make you optimistic that you will be successful and that your good performances will be rewarded more frequently in the form of points?
Mittelstädt: The atmosphere in the team is good! We had a training camp in Florida where we got through a lot of work and grew together even more. From the playing side, we often looked good, but were unlucky here and there, even if we were sometimes too meek in conceding late goals. We have to keep working together, fighting together and minimise errors. If we show the mentality of the last few months and continue to build on recent performances, then we will be fine.