Pal Dardai's Hertha Berlin are enjoying their best ever start to a Bundesliga season. - © © imago
Pal Dardai's Hertha Berlin are enjoying their best ever start to a Bundesliga season. - © © imago

Dardai's Hertha rebuilt in the spirit of Berlin

As Hertha Berlin sporting director Michael Preetz so aptly put it after recently signing a two-year contract extension, the Old Lady are "no ordinary club".

Multicultural ranks

Hip, vibrant and constantly evolving, Hertha embody the regenerative spirit of their historic abode like no other European capital representative in world football.

Give your Official Fantasy Bundesliga squad a Hertha Berlin-inspired makeover now!

Much like Berlin itself, Hertha's first-team squad is a veritable melting pot of cultures. In addition to the 13 German natives at Hungarian head coach Pal Dardai's disposal, there is Slovakia international pair Peter Pekarik and Ondrej Duda; Norwegian duo Rune Jarstein and Per Cilian Skjelbred; Switzerland's Valentin Stocker and Fabian Lustenberger; Czech Republic midfield engine Vladimir Darida; Düsseldorf-born Tunisia forward Sami Allagui; and veteran Bosnia-Herzegovina striker Vedad Ibisevic.

Watch: The Hertha players react to their FIFA 17 ratings:

With the promise of top-flight German football and the world-famous allure of the enchantingly named 'Athens of the Spree' as bargaining tools, Hertha have also been able to attract a number of more exotic names to one of only two Berlin-based outfits to have played in the Bundesliga - the other being Tennis Borussia in 1974-75 and 1976-77.

Japan international Genki Haraguchi, Cote d'Ivoire goal-getter Salomon Kalou and Brazilian midfielder Allan have all joined the club at various points over the course of the last two years, while Berlin-born USMNT international defender John Anthony Brooks cited his affinity for his hometown as one of the chief reasons behind his decision to sign a new deal in January 2016.

- © imago / Sven Simon

At 27, Schieber should be hitting the peak of his powers. Injury impeded the former Germany Under-21's progression during stints at boyhood club VfB Stuttgart, 1. FC Nürnberg and Borussia Dortmund, but his goal-scoring cameos against SC Freiburg and Ingolstadt point to a renaissance fast approaching full swing.

A city once divided by roughly 155 kilometres of concrete, Berlin is no stranger to new beginnings, and Schieber is not the only player to have started afresh in the capital. Goalkeeper Thomas Kraft, right-sided specialist Mitchell Weiser and prodigious midfield talent Sinan Kurt all had to deal with varying degrees of career stagnation at former employers FC Bayern München, before wiping the slate clean at the iconic Olympiastadion.

Watch: Take a tour of Hertha's historic Olympiastadion:

Bright future

Revivified nach Berliner Art and fueled by an eclectic mix of East meets West, Dardai's Hertha are forging a new chapter in the club's history. No one expects miracles after a decade of yo-yoing between Germany's top two divisions, but a prolonged spell in the company of the Bundesliga's top six or seven sides is looking increasingly likely.

Preview: Hertha host FC Schalke 04 on Matchday 3

And while the absence of a major trophy renders Hertha as European football's great capital anomaly, beneath the surface lies a sleeping giant still waiting to be woken from its ostensibly interminable slumber. Fifty-three years after joining the freshly minted Bundesliga as Berlin's domestic champions, however, Die Alte Dame are at last beginning to stir.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge