Jurgen Ekkelenkamp is enjoying his first season in the Bundesliga with Hertha Berlin. - © DFL
Jurgen Ekkelenkamp is enjoying his first season in the Bundesliga with Hertha Berlin. - © DFL

Jurgen Ekkelenkamp on Hertha Berlin, the Bundesliga, Ajax and Rafael van der Vaart

It's been an up and down start to the season for Hertha Berlin, but summer signing Jurgen Ekkelenkamp has already shown that he can make a big difference.

After scoring on his debut to help his new side to a first home win of the season, he insists that the best is yet to come.

bundesliga.com sat down with the 21-year-old Dutch attacker to hear about his dream start, his famous former coaches, and which ex-Bundesliga star served as a role model...

bundesliga.com: It wasn't until Matchday 5 against Greuther Fürth that you made your first impact at your new club and scored your first goal for Hertha just 87 seconds after coming on. Describe how you felt at that moment and what was happening around you.

Jurgen Ekkelenkamp: "It was just an unbelievable moment. I was of course really happy, and after the game I just wondered whether I was dreaming. But it was real - and it feels great."

bundesliga.com: Can you describe the goal again?

Ekkelenkamp: "We had a corner and there was a big chance before that. We were not really happy that we hadn't already scored a goal. I stayed five metres out with the defender and at first I ran after him and then I got ahead of him. I then scored with a header."

Watch: Jurgen Ekkelenkamp's dream debut

bundesliga.com: You were also involved in the winning goal to make it 2-1 18 minutes later. How did you see this situation?   

Ekkelenkamp: "At first I thought it was my goal, but after the game I saw that it was really an own goal [by Maximilian Bauer]. It was important to be there so the defender couldn't clear the ball away. It was also a really good moment."

bundesliga.com: Overall, you had a good game that day. How did you feel when you went home? Could you sleep that night or did the scenes go through your head several times?

Ekkelenkamp: "I think I slept five hours, so it was not really a good night for me. I was just thinking about the game and all that stuff."

bundesliga.com: Were you disappointed or even upset that you didn't play in the games before that? How did the coach explain that to you?

Ekkelenkamp: "I was only at Hertha for three days before the first game because I was with the national squad before that. It was only three days, so I understand why I didn't play, and I had to just be confident and wait."

bundesliga.com: How did you settle in here and what do you particularly like in Berlin and at Hertha?

Ekkelenkamp: "I really like the club and everybody is kind. The city is also great with its big streets, because in Amsterdam the streets are a little bit smaller. I like it here."

bundesliga.com: Mainz were also interested in signing you. Why did you choose Berlin and Hertha BSC?

Ekkelenkamp: "Hertha was more interested in me, and I felt more confident here. That is the reason why I am here and not there."

bundesliga.com: How did your teammate Deyovaisio Zeefuik influence or advise you?

Ekkelenkamp: "Hertha was already interested in me last year, so I already talked to him then. I asked him how the club was and he said it was good, and now I'm here and I’m happy."

Ekkelenkamp (c.) played for the Ajax youths, before making 40 appearances for the pros. - imago

bundesliga.com: The sporting situation and the position in the table do not look so good at the moment. Two of your defeats were really heavy: 6-0 against Bayern Munich and 5-0 against RB Leipzig. Why is that?

Ekkelenkamp: "We have a lot of injuries in defence and maybe it was also a little bit about quality. Next time we also have to work harder to not concede so many goals."

bundesliga.com: What needs to change for the next games?

Ekkelenkamp: "We have to work a little bit more like a team and have more communication. If we do that, then they are going to be good games."

bundesliga.com: What will be your task? You are still very young and a huge talent, but can you already take on so much responsibility?

Ekkelenkamp: "I'm not really the player to communicate, but I also have to do that because otherwise the team will not really be a team. I also have to talk and everybody has to say what is needed to each other. I think I also have to do that."

bundesliga.com: Are you already at 100 percent?

Ekkelenkamp: "Not really because I have not played many games this year and I think I have only played two full games. I have to get fitter and then it will be 100 percent."

bundesliga.com: You went through the vaunted Ajax school and worked under great coaches such as Michael Reiziger, Winston Bogarde and Richard Witschge - all of whom played for FC Barcelona in their careers. Who did you learn the most from?

Ekkelenkamp: "I learned a lot from every trainer, but Richard Witschge worked more with the midfielders so I think I would choose him. But I also learned a lot of defending skills from Bogarde and Reiziger."

bundesliga.com: What was your childhood and family life like back in the Netherlands? How did you grow up and how did you get into football?

Ekkelenkamp: "I have been playing since I was four, and I played at Almere City in Almere. They had a connection with Ajax, so I went to Ajax when I was 13. After that, I came here."

bundesliga.com: Your role models are Wesley Sneijder and former Hamburg attacking midfielder Rafael van der Vaart. Why?

Ekkelenkamp: "They were great midfielders and they also played for Ajax, and Van der Vaart also played in Germany. They are technically good and I liked to watch that."

Former Hamburg captain and fellow Dutchman Rafael van der Vaart was a big inspiration for Hertha Berlin’s summer signing Jurgen Ekkelenkamp. - imago sportfotodienst/imago sportfotodienst

bundesliga.com: What are the main differences between German and Dutch football, or the biggest differences between the Eredivisie and the Bundesliga?

Ekkelenkamp: "I think the main difference is that the tempo is really high here. At Ajax, the tempo was not really high because Ajax always played high up the pitch against a defensive unit. That is the main difference."

bundesliga.com: As a young professional footballer you have dreams. What are yours? Where do you want to go and what do you want to achieve?

Ekkelenkamp: "Of course, I want to win a lot of trophies, but first my goal is to play many games for Hertha. After that, I will see what happens because I am just living in the present. Firstly, I want to play many games for Hertha."