Hertha BSC will host 1. FC Union Berlin in the round of 16 in the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday, 19th January (20:45 CET). Ahead of the upcoming Berlin derby, Union captain Christopher Trimmel spoke about the match and his second job as a tattoo artist.
DFB.de: Mr. Trimmel, were Hertha BSC your dream draw for the round of 16?
Trimmel: We would have rather been at home in the Pokal, because we are a strong side at home. Outside of that, there aren’t any dream draws. A derby is of course something special.
DFB.de: You have faced Hertha five time now with Union, winning twice, losing twice and drawing once. Which of these derbies stick out in your mind?
Trimmel: The last one, since I also scored then (Ed. Note: Trimmel scored to make it 2-0) is of course a positive memory. Overall, they have always been close and tough games. It wasn’t always the football that stood out, but rather the passion and the tackles. That’s what defines a derby.
DFB.de: Could the game become even more emotions if one Berlin club knocks another one out of the competition?
Trimmel: Of course. Everyone knows that it’s basically like a final. In the Bundesliga, nothing much happens after a defeat. In the cup, that’s it, you’re out. We want to advance as far as we can.
DFB.de: What do you make of local rivals Hertha BSC and their ambitions?
Trimmel: I think the club are seen by the public as being worse off than they actually are. They have a squad with a lot of potential. If you underestimate them, then you will lose. I’m expecting to come up against a strong opponent.
DFB.de: Compared to Hertha, are Union a ‘smaller’ club?
Trimmel: I think that it’s all connected to hard work. It’s not only about the transfers made, but also about a lot of other factors. The most important thing is that the whole club is working towards a common goal. That’s the recipe for success, and that allows for new players to be integrated quickly. It’s normal that there’s always a rebuild happening every year in football. But, we always manage to find our way back together relatively quickly. I don’t think I’d call us small in comparison to Hertha. There are several other clubs that get their hands on a lot of money and don’t have everything go their way straight away.
DFB.de: What’s your impression of the fan scene in Berlin? Are there certain areas in which there are more Union fans?
Trimmel: If you look at the districts of Köpenick or Spandau, then it’s clear to see I think. If you drive through the city, there’s a lot that’s changed. When I first started, when we were still in Bundesliga 2, then there was a lot more blue to be seen. Since we’ve been in the Bundesliga, you can see that there’s more and more Union fan – not only in Berlin, but outside the city as well. The club is growing, which you can see in the number of members as well.
DFB.de: You won promotion with Union in 2019 via the play-offs. Unlike other clubs who were then locked in a relegation battle right away, Union have established themselves in the Bundesliga and have even since qualified for the UEFA Conference League. What makes Union better than other promoted sides?
Trimmel: I don’t really know how it is at other clubs. Overall, it’s important that every player here knows what the clubs stands for. It’s about staying compact and allowing our opponents few chances. We did that in Bundesliga 2 and that’s still the case now. We’re tough to beat. That’s a tactic that we’ve stayed true to. That’s our foundation. From there, we work on other things such as our attacking play and in possession. Even if we have a bad day, it’s still tough to score on us because we automatically still do that.
DFB.de: Let’s change the topic: you’re a tattoo artist and have drawn several of your own designs. Where did that passion come from?
Trimmel: Art was always part of my life. I liked to draw as a kid and even entered some competitions. My original plan was to study are in Vienna, but then professional football got in the way (laughs). At some point, I let a good friend tattoo me. That’s where the desire to do it myself came from. We came up with a lot of designs together. He taught me how to tattoo, which was a lot of fun. When I came to Berlin, I got my own license.
DFB.de: How often and when do you tattoo people?
Trimmel: I was mainly a mobile tattoo artist, meaning I visited my clients at home. I’ve been looking for my own studio for a while. My wife is also an artist, she paints and often hosts her own exhibitions. We’re looking for a joint space that we can use as an atelier. But, I’m taking my time with it. At the minute, I’m not really tattooing that often because it’s hard to see clients with the strict hygiene rules in place. Before the pandemic, I would always tattoo on Monday and Tuesday. It has to be said that tattooing is quite stressful. You shouldn’t do it the day before a game.
DFB.de: You have also tattooed teammates like Cedric Teuchert and Fabian Schönheim. Does that put a special burden on you? After all, in the worst case you’d be confronted with an unhappy client in the dressing room every day.
Trimmel: No. The days when I’d get nervous before a tattoo are over. It’s like in football, at some point, you stop getting nervous. In the first year, you’re still a bit afraid of making a mistake. But, I’ve since gained more experience as a tattoo artist. My teammates know my style and how I tattoo. So far, it’s all gone well.
DFB.de: Have you had any other funny encounters with clients who didn’t know that you’re also a professional footballer? Or a Hertha fan that accidentally came to get tattooed by the Union captain?
Trimmel: Many of my clients are fans of Union Berlin. For some of them, it’s probably a desire to get tattooed by the Union captain. But, I also have some clients that aren’t football fans at all. I’ve yet to tattoo a Hertha ultra (laughs).
DFB.de: What would happen if someone came to you and wanted a big Hertha logo tattooed on their back?
Trimmel: (laughs) I don’t have to worry about that, because it won’t happen. They would know that I wouldn’t do that.