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Eggestein: "I'm not someone who defines himself solely as a footballer"

Johannes Eggestein had to wait a long time for his chance to start a game. The striker returned to the side for the 5-1 drubbing of Holstein Kiel and started again in the 3-1 defeat of FC Schalke 04, contributing to both home wins with good performances. In this interview, Eggestein tells us how he got back on track and what he’s expecting ahead of the game of the weekend at Hertha BSC.

"I feel really good. You're always a part of the group, of course, but you feel more valuable when you're playing," said Eggestein, reflecting on the recent games against Kiel and Schalke. "And then we went and got the two wins and scored eight goals against decent teams full of individual quality, so I'm pleased to have had a chance to do my bit. I'm a striker who moves really well between the spaces, gets involved in our transitional play with my touches and actively participates in the game rather than simply waiting in the box for a cross."

Eggestein had not started since the 4-4 draw at Karlsruhe in November of last year, and so has had to be patient. "It wasn't an easy situation for me. Off the pitch, I looked for solutions to help me develop as a player. The quality of our training is really high as well and some good players came in. That's the only way you can develop even when you're not playing regularly. Sometimes you have to be patient. Last season, a certain Lukas Daschner was here. I went full throttle in the close season and now I've had confirmation that being patient pays off," a delighted centre-forward said.

Johannes Eggestein (here under challenge from Paul Seguin) delivered a good performance against Schalke.

Johannes Eggestein (here under challenge from Paul Seguin) delivered a good performance against Schalke.

That head coach Fabian Hürzeler can count on ‘Jojo’ is borne out by the stats, as the Hannover-born player has been a permanent member of the squad since joining the Boys in Brown in the summer of 2022. "Being as fit as possible so I can take my chance when it comes is something I pursue as a professional footballer, as is the case now," he said. Off the pitch, Eggestein keeps himself mentally fit as well by studying psychology at the University of Hamburg. And the person he can always count on to offer him help and advice is his year-older brother and SC Freiburg midfielder Maximilian. "I'm not someone who defines himself solely as a footballer," he explained. "I concern myself with other issues away from the game and pay attention to my wellbeing. My family and my brother offer me lots of support in that respect. We're in regular contact, mainly via Facetime because of the distances involved, and he obviously knows how things work and how you feel."

The game of the weekend against Schalke is followed another cracker at Hertha BSC on Saturday evening. "Many of us who’ve never played at the Olympic Stadium are really looking forward to it. Hertha struggled at the beginning but seem to be stabilising now. They have good individual quality in any case and Hertha BSC are a club who belong in the first division simply because of the name. Winning at the Olympic Stadium will be a huge challenge, but we're preparing well."

Being a striker, Eggestein is obviously keen to find the net again and was unlucky to see a shot hit the post against Schalke. "At least I got an assist. In the last two games it was important for me to give the team something that might have been lacking recently, our passing play, for example, where we open up lots of space in behind. I'm sure I'll be back on the scoresheet soon."

Photos: Witters