Lukas Hradecky has joined Bayer Leverkusen from Eintracht Frankfurt this summer after one of the best seasons of his career to date. Now, with a DFB Cup winners medal in his pocket, the happy-go-lucky Finland international can keep living the dream in Leverkusen.
“I have the best job in the world,” Hradecky told German sport magazine Kicker. “And I try to live that way, I enjoy it a lot. It’s a privilege. I'm just a down to earth guy who made it to the Bundesliga.”
The 28-year-old is one of the happiest players in the Bundesliga, and to show it, when asked about what Leverkusen’s fans can look forward to with him in their ranks, he said “An open, funny guy who is hopefully good with jokes. I almost always tell the truth and I’m very bad at lying.”
But when the time is right, Hradecky knows how to be serious. After all, he has played in two DFB Cup finals in a row, winning one against Bayern Munich in 2017/18 with Frankfurt, and helped the Eagles to an eight-place finish. It’s a competition he’d love to win again with Leverkusen, and hopes the ambitions of his new teammates are on the same level.
“Hopefully we can lift the cup here too. Of course, that requires a lot from us all. We haven’t set any goals as a team yet, but I might think it could be one to go to the cup final,” Hradecky says. “If we got into the top four, that would be a good development. And to experience the cup final for the third time in a row would be a dream. That’s probably something that not many players can say they’ve experienced.”
Confidence is brimming in Hradecky not just because of the cup success, but also his entire career to this point. The shot-stopper has been the successor of two Germany internationals with his pair of Bundesliga transfers, filling the gloves of Kevin Trapp in Frankfurt in 2015 and now Bernd Leno at Leverkusen.
Watch: Hradecky's best Bundesliga saves!
“We did everything and it was time for me to go,” Hradecky says, explaining his departure from Frankfurt. “When Leverkusen contacted me almost a year ago, and there was an option for Bernd [Leno] to move, I was of course interested. I had good discussions with goalkeeping coach David Thiel, I also talked to Bernd personally on how it works here and that kind of stuff. But nobody really had to recommend Leverkusen to me. I had heard only good things before and it was clear very early that I wanted to come here.”
Hradecky says there were many reasons he joined Leverkusen, but none were based around his predecessor’s move to the English Premier League with Arsenal.
“Of course that was a certain risk, but it wouldn’t have stopped me from moving here. If that had happened, we would have fought for the No.1 spot,” Hradecky said. “That's always the case in a good club. We have three good goalkeepers and you have to earn your place. In Frankfurt I managed to replace a very good goalkeeper, here Bernd was one of the best goalkeepers in the Bundesliga over the last seven years.
“This is perhaps an even bigger task for me. But as I said about my performances in Frankfurt: I’m Luke and I go my own way.”
And it has been his way which has brought him to Leverkusen. A young, vibrant team who excited many Bundesliga fans as well as their own in 2017/18. Playing an attacking style with the likes of Leon Bailey, Julian Brandt and Kai Havertz brings fans to their feet, but all great teams need a man between the sticks, keeping the ball out of the net.