Berlin – It was the 88th minute of the A-Junior U19 Bundesliga final between Hertha BSC and FC Schalke 04: Palko Dardai led a swift breakaway into the Royal Blues’ penalty area and was brought down by ‘keeper Timon Weiner. The referee Frank Willenborg pointed straight to the spot. The man wo won the penalty then stepped up – and missed. It was nothing but another goal that would’ve capped off an unforgettable final. The penalty miss was largely irrelevant to the Herthaner. Coach Michael Hartmann’s men were already leading by three goals to one. Shortly after the penalty, Hertha’s youth celebrated the first ever A-Junior title in the club’s long history. “I’ve been with this group for three years now. Of course, it’s a wonderful end to our time together. It’s a historic day for Hertha as well. So I’m not only pleased for the lads, but also for the entire club. It’s a big thing,” Hartmann said afterwards.
“A massive thing for the whole club!”
The men from the Spree laid the foundations for victory early on in the encounter: Panzu Ernesto’s header and captain Florian Krebs’ freekick put Hertha on the road to victory (9’, 26’). Ahmed Kutucu halved the deficit for Schalke (62’), but Arne Maier restored the capital club’s two goal lead to secure a much-deserved victory. Following the aforementioned penalty miss, the Old Lady’s young guns were showered in golden confetti as they lifted the cup.
Even though the triumph from May 27 2018 is now 732 days ago, the memories of that final are still very present. “It was a long-desired title – so for that reason it was a great day and a really special result for the boys,” Hartmann recalled two years on. “I still think about it a lot. It was really emotional, and a massive thing for the whole club, as well as the academy. An experience like that lives long in the memory. When I see the players from that day, who have gone on to play professionally, and that we were able to take part in the UEFA Youth League because of that win, I’m hopeful that we can bring through more players like that,” said academy director Benjamin Weber on the occasion of the two year anniversary of that historic title.
HerthaTV are looking back on the highlights of the final, and spoke with further figures of that dramatic day.
The Hertha line-up: Smarsch – Kastrati (80’: Gurschke), Hummrich, Ernesto, Mulack – Krebs, Kade, Zografakis (32’: Jastrzembski, 88’: Ngankam), Maier, Dárdai – Kiprit (66’ Albrecht)
Goals: 1-0 Ernesto (9’), 2-0 Krebs (26’), 2-1 Kutucu (62’), 3-1 Maier (83’)
Referee: Frank Willenborg
Venue: Stadion Niederrhein, Oberhausen