Berlin - Highly-touted at first, then cast to one side and now on the verge of travelling to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, there’s no doubting that Hertha Berlin’s rising star John Anthony Brooks has had to endure a turbulent debut season in Germany’s top flight.
“There have been highs and lows,” admitted the 21-year-old in an interview with herthabsc.de. The American’s dream debut in the 6-1 drubbing of Eintracht Frankfurt on the opening day was followed up by intermittent spells on the sidelines, dips in form and misunderstandings with the coach, but entering the final stretch of the current campaign the youngster looks to have once again found his feet in the German capital.
The promising centre-back has played in five of the last seven league games and opened the scoring for his side in their 2-0 win against relegation-threatened Eintracht Braunschweig, earning him a spot in bundesliga.com's Player of the Week vote. “I didn’t have any particular feelings that it was going to be a good day for me,” explained Brooks. “It just seemed to happen that way.”
An upswing in form couldn’t have come at a better time for the towering defender, who has previously made three appearances for his national side. Born to an American father and German mother, US Men’s national team head coach Jürgen Klinsmann already has Brooks in his plans for the trip to South America - providing, of course, that he maintains his current level of performance - having contacted Hertha's sporting director Michael Preetz to enquire after the centre-back.
However, things haven’t always had such a rosy outlook for Brooks this season, with some of his problems self-inflicted. Just recently, Berlin’s backline stalwart decided to get a large-scale tattoo on his back, which required several trips to the tattoo artist. Head coach Jos Luhukay was not impressed with the decision and ended up leaving him out of his squad for the Matchday 30 encounter with Bayer 04 Leverkusen. “I have no sympathy for someone who decides to do such things during the season,” said the Dutch tactician.
Fast-forward two weeks, however, and Brooks is being heralded as Hertha’s hero following their first home win of the calendar year. “His first year in the Bundesliga has been like a wave,” summed up Luhukay, who knows the perils of football’s fast-paced business. “Positive experiences aren’t the only things that help young players grow up. [Setbacks] it’s part of the learning process.”
Having learned his lessons though, the youngster may be one to watch as he looks to continue his maturing process during the post-season. “I’m really hoping that I’ll be in the thick of it in Brazil," admitted Brooks. The potential is there, but only time will tell whether Klinsmann is prepared to take a risk on the youngster, and whether Brooks can continue to deliver on his undoubted talent.