The good news just keeps rolling in for this season’s surprise package Hertha Berlin, who were able to announce that star centre-back John Anthony Brooks had extended his contract at the club until 2019 ahead of their top-three clash with Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 20.
The agreement was announced shortly after the six-goal thriller with SV Werder Bremen, when sporting director Michael Preetz took to social media to tell the fans about the American’s decision to commit his future to the club.
In a collaborative interview with Hertha Berlin’s official website and bundesliga.com, the 23-year-old discusses what influenced his choice to remain in the German capital, how he envisages the season playing out for Hertha and the difficulty of taking on BVB on Saturday.
bundesliga.com: John Anthony Brooks, you’ve extended your contract with Hertha Berlin. How relieved are you that the deal is done and dusted?
John Anthony Brooks: I’m very happy because this agreement means a lot to me!
Brooks: Everyone knows that Hertha are my club. I feel incredibly good here, have made the step up as a professional footballer and taken the most important steps of my career so far with this club. The club and all the fans are incredibly important to me. Berlin is my home – to be able to play for my club and my city is a fantastic thing.
bundesliga.com: It has been known for a while that the club have been intent on extending your contract, which was due to expire in 2017. What made you decide to sign on until 2019 now?
Brooks: I had a lot of intense talks with the sporting director. For a long time, he always kept following up. I found his perseverance and confidence in me absolutely brilliant, it showed me how appreciated I was by the club. It’s important for me to always think things through thoroughly before I make a decision. You’ve got to plan everything out and then decide what’s right for you. Now was the time to do that, this step is the right step and I’m very satisfied.
bundesliga.com: That you feel good at Hertha...
Brooks: ...is something everyone knows about. It’s a lot of fun here at Hertha because everyone is pulling in the same direction. Everyone, not just the squad, are giving everything to make sure the club keeps progressing. Teamwork is at the centre of everything and I think that’s super.
'Working with Dardai is simply outstanding'
bundesliga.com: How important is the positive, sporting development of the team?
Brooks: Very, very important. It’s unbelievably fun to be a part of this team and playing football with this team. We’ve got a superb group of lads, who all have a great understanding both on and off the pitch.
bundesliga.com: What do you think the future holds?
Brooks: Together we’ve got a lot ahead of us. is proof that we’ve got a lot of potential. All of us can continue developing to ensure that we’re even better in the future. I want to work towards that, throw everything in the mix and play my part. I just want to keep moving forward with these guys – I’m looking forward to doing that.
bundesliga.com: What’s it like working with Pal Dardai?
Brooks: Simply outstanding. He pushes me, but he pushes me in the right manner. Pal Dardai is doing great work with us. He and his coaching team know what’s important for the collective and myself. For instance, he has always put his faith in me, relied on me – even if everything was going wrong. That’s why he’s so important for everyone.
bundesliga.com: What are you expecting of yourself in the coming year?
Brooks: I want to continue developing as a player here at Hertha. There are plenty of things that I still need to work on. If I can also play my part in ensuring that we continue along the path we’re currently on, then I’d also be very happy.
bundesliga.com: You became a member of the national team during your time with Hertha. How much does it mean to play for the US Men’s National Team?
Brooks: I’m incredibly proud to be a part of that team. It is the land of my father, which is why it’s always very emotional to be able to play for the USA. However, it’s also important that, through being on the international stage, I’ve already enjoyed some great experiences and need to continue gaining experience. That will ultimately benefit Hertha as well.
'We're looking forward to the Superbowl'
bundesliga.com: The Copa America takes place in the USA this summer. How much are you looking forward to the tournament?
Brooks: I'm sure it'll be an amazing experience. I'm really looking forward to it, because it's always great to be able to play for your country. But there's still a long way to go until then. I'm just focusing on Hertha at the moment. I'm always concentrating on the next game.
bundesliga.com: Hertha play Borussia Dortmund in one of the weekend's standout encounters. How highly do you rate BVB and how can beat them?
Brooks: There isn't an awful lot more you have to say about Borussia Dortmund. Along with FC Bayern, they're the best team in the Bundesliga. It's going to be a difficult game, but we go into the match with confidence. Of course we want to beat them in front of our own fans - like we did last season. We'll be working extra hard this week to try and make it possible.
bundesliga.com: The Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos in Saturday's Superbowl. Are you planning on watching the game? Who do you think will win?
Brooks: Yes, I will definitely watch the game with some of my friends. We're all really looking forward to it! It's difficult to say who will win - both teams have done well recently and deserve to win. I don't really have a preference, I wouldn't begrudge either of them the victory.
Parts of this interview can also be found on herthabsc.de