Berlin - Marius Gersbeck and Nils Körber have some things in common. Both were born in and raised in Berlin, both have been through the Hertha academy ranks as goalkeeping talents with bags of potential - and both have been loaned out by Hertha to third division sides. Gersbeck has been donning the gloves for VfL Osnabruck for two years, while Körber has been between the sticks for Preußen Münster since the summer. There’s still one more similarity to both player’s stories, which is the most pleasing for the powers that be at Hertha - both goalkeepers are leaders in their respective teams and have come on leaps and bounds in their development as players.#
Herthabsc.de has spoke to both goalkeepers in the winter break about the first halves of their seasons. Part 2: Nils Körber.
Herthabsc.de: Nils, we spoke to your long time Hertha academy teammate Marius Gersbeck this week. There’s only about 50 kilometres between Osnabruck and Münster - do you stay in good contact?
Körber: We got on really well in the Hertha youth setup. We stay in regular contact through via text and calling each other, like we always have done. We don’t just speak about football things though, but also more personal parts of our lives. We’ve only seen one another once though - in the game between Münster and Osnabruck in October.
Herthabsc.de: How special was the dominant 4-1 derby win - especially taking into account the big rivalry between these two sides from Lower Saxony?
Körber: It was obviously great for us and the fans. Not quite so for Marius (laughs). But we’re both quite laid back, so we’re allowed to have the odd laugh at each other. We joked around a bit before the game, but after the game I gave him a bit at first before I phoned him up. That was the right thing to do in light of the result.
Herthabsc.de: The win didn’t really give you any kind of boost though. You only managed to win one out of the next eight games, and now find yourself one point off the relegation zone in 17th place. Benno Möhlmann decided to call an end to his managerial career the the week before last. What was it like for you to go through a period like that?
Körber: We’re in a bit of a rut at the moment - it’s quite hard to get your head around, especially seeing as we won the derby so dominantly. Instead of continuing to improve, we’ve had a few setbacks. We’ve got a very ypung side at the moment - the youngest that has ever played for Münster actually. Maybe we were lacking the experience that you need at points. Maybe we started to be at odds with each other too soon after things didn’t go our way. When things aren’t going well on the pitch, the responsibility always falls at the feet of the coach first. That’s a part of the job. Whether it makes sense most of the time or not is a different question.
Herthabsc.de: The new coach is Marco Antwerpen. Have you had the chance to get to know him that well yet?
Körber: I got to know him last week actually when he introduced himself to us. He left a very good impression, was clearly very motivated to succeed and presented the way he wanted to play football in a very good way. The team has worked with him very well on how he wants us to play tactically, like when the opposition has the ball, for example. I think that we have a lot of quality in this squad, which doesn’t reflect our position in the table at all. It’s really good that we’re now preparing together in order to get a renewed sense of confidence. I’m sure that it will translate to us moving back up the standings.
Herthabsc.de: You’re a regular in the Münster net, but you recently even made your debut for the Germany U21s. Was the loan move the right step for you?
Körber: The last few months have gone extremely well for me. I think I’ve played some decent games. It’s also clear that it doesn’t look good on the goalkeeper when the team loses though. I could tell very quickly that the gap in quality between the Reginalliga and the third division is huge. As Marius and myself are also playing for teams with extensive histories, you’re also under a different kind of pressure from the football mad fans. It’s a positive thing when I’m under a bit of pressure and when the fans are pushing us though. There are a lot of young, talented and motivated players in this league, who are very technically gifted. I think the difference between this level and the second division really isn’t as clear. My experience with the U21s was a great one, and I’d love to continue to establish myself in the side and keep on playing for my country.
Herthabsc.de: Which aspects of your game have you improved?
Körber: That’s a question for other people - I always find it hard to pass judgement on myself. I haven’t really changed my approach to playing the goalkeeper position. As I’ve always done, I try to help the team going forward with my build up play. It was a learning experience for me to go through a phase like these last few months, when things didn’t always go well. I had a lot of success with the Hertha youth teams, so I haven’t been a part of something like this yet in my career.
Herthabsc.de: You didn’t play in December due to a thigh injury. When will you be able to get back out there?
Körber: I actually wanted to play this past weekend. However, the match against Erfurt was postponed, which wasn’t so bad for me to be honest, because it would have been very tight (smiles). But from the beginning of our preparation for the second half of the season onwards (3rd January 2018), I’ll be good to go. I’ve been rehabbing in Berlin since the beginning if this past week to be able to do that. Over Christmas I’ll continue the rehab program, and I’ll have a bit of down time around New Year. It’s really nice to have a few days back home. In the first half of the season, I tried to travel home about once a month to see my friends and family. I miss home from time to time when I’m in Münster.
Herthabsc.de: Last question - How have you managed to follow Hertha this season, and who are you in closest contact with at the club?
Körber: I get in contact with goalkeeping coach Zsolt Petry every two or three weeks, and I’m also in regular contact with the physios. Jordan Torunarigha was called up when I was in the U21s too. It was great to see him, because I had some great years with him at Hertha. We obviously spoke with each other a lot about our time there. I think that Hertha’s first half was up and down. They played really well in the last two wins, however. It was a shame to see them get knocked out in the early rounds of the DFB-Pokal, but that can happen in that competition. They’re trending in the right direction at the moment, so I hope that will continue into the New Year.