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Ritzka: "I was made to feel appreciated"

Head coach Fabian Hürzeler fielded Lars Ritzka at left-back in the first three games of this season against Kaiserslautern, Düsseldorf and Fürth. Ritzka repaid that trust with good performances. On Wednesday, the left-back sat down with the media to discuss a range of topics.

...his start to the season: "Basically, I'm glad I can play and bring my strengths to the team, but the team performance is always what counts for me. We’ve won one and drawn two so far. We'd have liked to win every game, but we didn't lose any either, so it's mixed feelings."

...playing a more important role in the team since the departure of Leart Paqarada: "I've been in close contact with Fabian Hürzeler ever since he took over. It was nothing new in training for me, as we'd already been working on the various topics. I wouldn't say my role is more important now. People always come and go. The question of the system we deploy is the decisive issue in my view, and we've been working on that for more than six months now. I try to put what's required into practice."

...serving as a stand-in for the impressive Paqarada: "It's a question of character to a certain extent. The two years weren't bad ones for me, even though you want to play, of course. I noticed the improvement in my game. My focus remains on improving in every training session. I'm happy to be playing now, but the important thing for me is wanting to become a better player every time I train and that was the case in the last two years as well. Even though Paqa was playing all the time, I always went flat out in training to offer an alternative. You're obviously not happy when you're not playing, but I've always had a lot of fun here, so you have to weigh up whether training is enough for you to become a better player or whether you need match practice. It was clear to me that the conditions are good here and I was reaching a high standard in training, which is why when we sat down for talks I never said it was imperative for me to leave the club. I went full throttle as much as I could over the last two years and was made to feel appreciated and there was no need for me to move on."

...playing from the start: "It would go too far to say I feel justified. I feel vindicated by the way I've developed and got my reward for working on things and improving."

...the battle for places with Philipp Treu: "Philipp is doing a superb job in training. Coaches are always happy when two players put their foot down. You have competition like this in every team, so little changed for me this summer after the previous two years."

...taking on a leadership role: "I don't consider myself a vocal player, I try to lead the way by being consistent in my performances and committed. I want to be an example of someone who always gives his all on the pitch and as such is someone you can depend on."

...the home game against Magdeburg: "It's a meeting of two good footballing teams who define themselves by what they do with the ball. I'm expecting a tactical game. It will come down to who's better in the tackle and gets their pressing game going. We have to have our wits about us both on and off the ball."

Photos: Witters