Kevin-Prince Boateng has confirmed he will end his playing career at Hertha Berlin after rejoining his boyhood club ahead of the 2021/22 Bundesliga campaign.
The Ghana international has signed a one-year contract with Hertha, where he made his professional debut back in 2005 after leaving Serie B side, AXC Monza after failing to propel the club to the topflight.
After returning to the club, the 34-year-old is itching for one final hurrah in the German capital.
“I still can’t believe it, it’s a dream come true,” Boateng told German daily Bild of his return to Hertha.
“We started discussions about 18 months ago, then Fredi [Bobic] came in [as managing director for sport]. I told him: ‘I only have one dream – I want to pull on the Hertha shirt at the Olympiastadion one more time.’ Fredi said: ‘Let’s do everything to make that dream a reality.
“I don’t know how long it’ll last, but it’ll be enough for me. It’s definitely my last club.”
Despite being a Serie A, La Liga and DFB Cup winner, Boateng doesn’t expect to simply walk into Pal Dardai’s first-choice XI.
“I know I have to knuckle down,” the former Ghana international explained. “The Bundesliga’s a more athletic league than it was, the lads are younger – they don’t stop running. Luckily, my positional play is good (laughs).
“There are some talented players here, but it’s a young team that needs leadership. I know all too well that talent alone isn’t enough. I learnt that, especially in Milan. The dressing room was full of superstars. That’s when I knew that if you don’t work hard, you won’t play.
“I certainly haven’t come here and said: ‘I’m Prince Boateng, I have to play every game.”
Boateng also revealed he took a call from Bayern Munich legend and former Fiorentina teammate Franck Ribery, shortly after putting pen to paper at Hertha.
“Franck called me, and told me to wrap up warm,” he said, having played alongside the Frenchman during the first half of the 2019/20 Serie A campaign.
“He’s in great shape for his age, and has shown in Italy that he’s still among the best. If Hertha ever wants him, I only have good things to say about him. But I’m not in charge. I don’t know what Fredi has planned. Lionel Messi is also a free agent (laughs).”
Boateng has over 420 competitive club appearances – including 129 in the Bundesliga – and two FIFA World Cups, the all-action midfielder returns to his former stomping ground as one of the most experienced players in the German top flight.
As well as lending a guiding hand to some of Hertha’s younger players, he also hopes to steer the Berliners back into Europe and, in a perfect world, to a home DFB Cup final.
“Hertha want to be playing in Europe in the future. For that, you need experience and a deep squad. Everyone’s working towards that,” Boateng said.
“As for the DFB Cup final in Berlin, we all had that dream when I was here at 17. We all talked about it, but perhaps it’s best not to. That way, it’ll be a nice surprise for us all.”
Boateng has played for Tottenham Hotspur, Borussia Dortmund, Portsmouth, Genoa, AC Milan, Schalke, Las Palmas, Eintracht Frankfurt, Sassuolo, Barcelona, Fiorentina, Besiktas and Monza.