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EXCLUSIVE: Mark Fotheringham talks Hertha Berlin survival, Erling Haaland’s Dortmund shirt and ultimate management dream

Hertha celebrate survival
Hertha celebrate survival

The party raged on in Hamburg as Mark Fotheringham made his exit.

Hertha Berlin had just stunned their hosts 2-0 in front of an expectant 57,000 attendance at the Volksparkstadion to secure Bundesliga survival.

The raucous celebrations went long into the night.

But Hertha’s Dundee-born assistant manager was already on the road, driving through the night back to Berlin. A quick turnaround and it was off to the airport. Job done. Home time.

“It’s been a long 12 weeks and my three boys need their dad,” Fotheringham told Courier Sport. “Although they have been on the phone a lot, saying things like: ‘Dad, can you get us [Erling] Haaland’s Dortmund shirt?’”

Sadly, Fotheringham was too busy trying to find a way to shackle Manchester City’s incoming superstar to grab the garment earlier this month.

But that was about his only failure during a nerve-shredding stint with Hertha.

Berlin pride

Taking over a team that had lost eight of its previous 10 games (including two 4-1 defeats and a 6-1 hammering at home) veteran boss Felix Magath and Fotheringham brought structure and organisation to the side following their arrival on March 13.

Vital victories against the likes of Stuttgart, Augsburg and Hoffenheim followed before seeing off Hamburg 2-1 on aggregate in the decisive play-off.

Fotheringham imparts instructions
Fotheringham imparts instructions

“I’m so proud of the job we did and so happy for that group of players,” he continued. “We came in to a tough situation, with the team losing games and shipping goals.

“But we addressed some issues and put our heart and soul into the club — and the players gave us everything in return.

“To have kept Hertha in the Bundesliga — especially while working with a manager like Felix Magath — is special. Felix is the King of Germany. He is one of the great names of German football.

“It’s simple: you’ll just not work for him if you’re not at the top level.

“His demands are unreal. He’ll never tell you ‘well done’, he just demands you do even better. If you can work for the boss, you can work for anyone!”

English ambition

The former Dundee, United and Celtic midfielder now boasts a coaching CV that includes stints at Karlsruhe, Ingolstadt, Hertha and even a voluntary spell with Cowdenbeath.

Fotheringham, left, gives advice to Magath
Fotheringham, left, gives advice to Magath

It has been a patient, gradual process for the 38-year-old.

However, his time at the Olympiastadion — which included effectively managing the side to victory against Hoffenheim when Magath contracted Covid — has convinced him he is ready to be a manager in his own right, preferably in England.

“I told everyone back in Scotland that I would coach in the Bundesliga and I can now say that I’ve done that,” he added.

“I’m not talking about what I can do. I’m actually doing it. A lot of people can talk a good game or analyse a game on their laptop — but I like being on the training field with the players, living and breathing it.

“I feel like this experience at Hertha has opened up so many options for me. I’ve always said I was on a path, and it was all a development process, but with the feedback I’ve had from some unbelievable players, I feel ready to take my chance.”

Strong bond: Fotheringham and Czech defender Peter Pekarik
Strong bond: Fotheringham and Czech defender Peter Pekarik

He continued: “My target is to work in England.

“I want to go into a club there and bring a German style of football to England. That might seem strange, being a Scottish guy, but all my development has been in Germany.

“I fell in love with the football when I went from Dundee to Freiburg [as a player] and I’m passionate about bringing that style to England.

“I’ve had an apprenticeship that most people could only dream of and, although I know I’ve still got things I need to work on, I know I’m ready.”

VIDEO: Ex-Dundee star Mark Fotheringham gives press conference in GERMAN ahead of Hertha Berlin dugout debut

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