Berlin – 100 was the number on the sheet – precisely 100. Karim Rekik won each and every one of his challenges in the game against Hamburger SV – it’s there for everyone to see in the match stats. And that outstanding stat wasn’t the only impressive thing about his game on that October afternoon. He contributed massively by scoring the crucial winner in the 2-1 victory over the Hamburg club. It was one of two goals and two assists he’s provided so far this season.
Zero to 100
Exemplary stats prove just how well the summer signing fits in in Berlin. Rekik went from zero to 100 almost instantly. He transferred from Marseille in June, where he hadn’t regularly featured for the last year, and played in the very first Bundesliga game of the season. He’s made an appearance in every Bundesliga game since (except against Leipzig due to injury); with 16 starts in the German top flight, Rekik has become a regular starter and a key player for the capital club. He makes the most of every game, whether he’s playing alongside Sebastian Langkamp, Niklas Stark or Jordan Torunarigha. “I think he deserves credit and a great compliment in that he’s pretty much replaced Anthony Brooks, if not, then he will soon,” sporting director Michael Preetz is full of praise for him. “It was really easy for me to find my feet here. I’ve got on really well with the lads right from the beginning and I felt like a part of the team straight away,” says the Dutchman.
Not only do his challenge success rate stats and number of appearances show how indispensable Rekik has become for the Blue-Whites, but also his presence both on and off the pitch has quickly made him a popular figure with the fans as well as with his teammates. A casual quote here, a song there, often the first player to run and hug the goalscorer in celebration – you can see that Rekik is feeling happy. He is calm and collected and graces the pitch with bundles of confidence – you could be forgiven for forgetting that he is only 23 years old. The defensive specialist watches over and prevents many a goal with his spectacular slide tackles.
Becoming an international at Hertha
Netherlands national coach Dick Advocaat couldn’t ignore Rekik’s success and progress. After he’d made his first appearance for the ‘Elftal’ aged 19 in 2014, he was considered again for the first time in September this year. “It’s an honour to be back. I had unfinished business after my last call-up,” grins Rekik and adds: “I always knew I’d return to the spotlight when I started getting regular gametime.” Meanwhile, the centre-back has made four international appearances. “He’s earned that. He delivers strong and consistent performances week in week out,” Michael Preetz is hardly surprised at Rekik’s return to the Dutch national team.
On an international level for the club, Pál Dárdai gave Rekik several periods of rest and he was able to catch a breather during the three UEFA Europa League matches. He’s doing the same in the winter break: “It was an unbelievably intense first half of the season, during which time a lot has happened,” says the defender. “We’ve visited other countries and had a few crazy games – like in Wolfsburg, Bilbao and Leipzig. We’ve taken a lot from it and will use what we’ve learned to help us improve in the second half of the season,” says the 23-year-old. He is certainly happy with his decision to move to the German capital: “Transferring to Hertha was definitely the right choice for me. The club, the team and I fit together really well,” he says, delighted.