We caught up with Jonas Hofmann following the 4-0 win at Nürnberg to discuss European qualification and the incredible fan support.
Jonas, congratulations on the win and qualifying for the Europa League!
Hofmann: Thank you. We all had goosebumps at the end when we were celebrating with the fans. The atmosphere was amazing. And of course, it’s a big weight off our shoulders because we have achieved our first goal. But we have the chance to achieve something greater on the final matchday – and that’s our goal now. We need to give absolutely everything to beat Dortmund.
A weight off your shoulders after some tricky weeks…
Hofmann: We had a tough period, which we had to pull through together as a team. A few weeks ago, some people were telling us we’d be grateful to finish seventh. It’s even crazier that we now have a chance to reach the Champions League. It’s crazy and it goes to show the quality we have that we still have the chance to achieve something great despite that poor run.
Josip Drmic has certainly played his part in that, scoring important goals against Hoffenheim and Nürnberg. What are your thoughts on his performances?
Hofmann: It's quite incredible. At the start of the season, we said we would need each and every player. And that’s been proven now, Josip is the best example of that. He scored an extremely important goal last week and then again to give us the lead against Nürnberg. I’m delighted for him and hopefully he can do it again against Dortmund.
You spent a lot of time talking to him before the game. What did you say to him?
Hofmann: I rallied a few of the players before, just because there was so much riding on this game. It was so important that we played together as a team. I wanted to give Josip some confidence and I told him he’s a great striker when he focuses on his strengths. That’s what he did. He found the space perfectly and then finished for the first goal. It was fitting that I provided the assist.
Just a word on the 10,000 fans that accompanied the team down south. What was it like to see their support?
Hofmann: It was incredible. When 10,000 people travel to Nuremberg from Mönchengladbach – which is no short trip – it gives us so much strength. We could feel that during the warm-up. And after the game, Yann Sommer and I simply marvelled at it all, it was such a great feeling to celebrate together with the fans. You can see that we players and the fans are all one club together. The fans deserve Europe.
Europa League is in the bag, but Champions League is still possible – is that the perfect scenario going into the final matchday?
Hofmann: I would say that we have achieved our initial goal. But if you can still achieve more, then you want to go for it – we’re all athletes. Of course, it is great to know that we will be playing in Europe no matter what. But now our focus is fully on the final match and when you have the chance to reach the Champions League, of course you want to achieve that.
It’s also a big game for our opponents Dortmund, who will be hoping to win the title in BORUSSIA-PARK…
Hofmann: This has been a wonderful season for all football fans, especially with it going down to the final day. We footballers obviously prefer to have things wrapped up sooner. But it will be a huge game on Saturday. We’re looking forward to that and nobody can motivate us more than we already are. We know what we can achieve.