Berlin - It was a revealing cameo. A few minutes after the final whistle had blown on the 1-0 victory over SV Sandhausen on Matchday 30 that definitively sealed Hertha BSC Berlin's return to the Bundesliga, Sami Allagui went over to Ronny to present him with the obligatory beer shower.

The nifty frontman is no slouch himself - but when his Brazilian team-mate took off down the Olympiastadion's blue running track, an appreciative mass murmur rippled through the crowd as he zipped by. Allagui didn't have a chance.

Slow start for a quick player

The soaking duly took place a little later, but the scene illustrated perfectly the breathtaking acceleration Hertha's 26-year-old playmaker has in the tank. It also gave rise to a few quips that Ronny had moved faster after the match than at any point during it. A bit of an exaggeration, but one based on something of a pre-history for the capital club's player of the season.

When Ronny arrived at Hertha in 2010 from Portugal's Sporting Clube de Portugal - by way of a loan spell at Uniao Leiria - he was unfit and overweight on the back of a lengthy injury stretch. It was a far from ideal situation, all the more so given that he was nominally signed as a left-back. Rumours soon spread that the club had signed him first and foremost to make his older brother Raffael feel more at home in the capital.

Shedding the pounds

At that point, Raffael was Hertha's undisputed midfield general. Ronny, by contrast, had to sweat through extra fitness shifts and it was not until Matchday 17 that he played a game from start to finish in Bundesliga 2.

By that stage, he had shed almost ten kilos since arriving from Portugal and, while Markus Babbel praised him as an "outstanding player who reads the game well", the then-head coach added the caveat that he still needed to work further on his fitness. The campaign ended with Hertha earning promotion back to the top flight, but Ronny was, at best, one for the bench.

Ronny rises to the task

What a difference two years make. This time around, as Hertha clinched promotion for the second time in three seasons, and with four games to spare, Ronny's black-and-white contribution at the end of Matchday 31 is 16 goals and 11 assists. Not bad, considering the Bundesliga 2's stand-out player of 2012/13 had begun the campaign still far from assured of a regular starting berth. New head coach Jos Luhukay had provisionally earmarked a 4-4-2 formation for Hertha, without a classic 'No10', but he soon changed his mind to accommodate Ronny in a 4-2-3-1 set-up.

The move paid off - with interest. None of the four coaches he has played under in Berlin - Babbel, Michael Skibbe, Otto Rehhagel and Luhukay - were ever in any doubt as to the former Brazil U-20 international's ability. Neither were the fans, who soon warmed to their new ball wizard, with his defence-splitting passes and thunderbolt shot. For all that, though, there were always questions hanging in the air as to his professional attitude - the prevailing image of him among large sections of the crowd was, as one fan blog put it, that of a "sloppy genius".

At home in Berlin

Raffael's departure last summer for Dynamo Kiev - he has since joined FC Schalke 04 on loan - proved, however, to be the catalyst for Ronny's transformation. Inheriting his brother's playmaker mantle under Luhukay, he rose to meet the challenge of his new responsibility. Not always with total success, but in a manner that has earned him the respect, and loyalty, of his team-mates. As midfielder Peer Kluge put it: "I'm happy to run a few extra yards for Ronny, because I know he's always capable of turning a game for us."

Ronny Heberson Furtado de Araújo - his name, writ large, does justice to his at times exalted play out on the pitch. Away from it, however, the man from the north-eastern Brazilian city of Fortaleza comes across as somewhat shy. That may have something to do with his still-limited grasp of German - he always has an interpreter at hand for interviews - but as far as his surroundings go he is certainly a big fan. "It's really nice here with the parks, all the places to go out and the general flair. Berlin has something really special," he wrote on his website.

Defying the laws of physics?

Ronny was accredited with something really special himself in his Portuguese playing days - a free-kick purportedly measured at an astonishing 210.9 kilometres/hour, for Sporting at provincial outfit Naval 1º de Maio. Purportedly, because in the view of Dortmund University physics professor Metin Tolan as expressed to regional broadcaster Südwestfunk, that unofficial world record flies in the face of the laws of nature as applied to a football.

At any rate, neither the power nor the accuracy of Ronny's left foot is up for debate. He has already scored five goals from direct free kicks - one more before the end of the campaign would set a new record. His father, Caetano de Araujo, recently told the magazine Focus that when his son was still small, he had taught him to shoot using just three toes, to optimise the speed and flight of the ball.

Right decision

A father of two himself, Ronny sought the advice of his entire family before making a final decision on whether or not to extend terms with Hertha. Raffael advised him to do so, and that was the road he took. Given that he could likely have earned substantially more elsewhere, his explanation as to why he put pen to paper on a new contract through to 2017 with the capital's biggest club comes across as far more than a mere platitude.

"I wanted to stay at Hertha all along. I've had my best years so far as a player here." And long may that continue in the eyes of the club's many fans, who are all hoping that their gifted playmaker will be lighting up the Bundesliga, in Hertha's colours - for more than just a season this time around.

André Anchuelo in Berlin