Third-division side SV Wehen Wiesbaden will open their DFB-Pokal campaign at home against defending champions Borussia Dortmund. In an interview with DFB.de, new signing Mehmet Kurt (25) spoke with Peter Haidinger about facing his former club, potentially reaching the next round and BVB goalscorer Erling Haaland.
DFB.de: What was your reaction when Thomas Broich pulled Borussia Dortmund’s name out of the pot?
Mehmet Kurt: Ahead of the draw, I went for a walk with my wife Berna and said to her that I’d be excited to be drawn against Borussia Dortmund. I’m from Hagen and played for BVB in my youth. We then watched the draw on TV. I was so happy when we were actually drawn against Borussia (laughs).
DFB.de: Your phone must have been blowing up afterwards, or?
Kurt: That’s true. Many of my former teammates from Dortmund called to congratulate me. My father, Bilal, also spoke to me for a while after the draw.
DFB.de: You won the DFB-Pokal with BVB as a youth. What memories do you have from back then?
Kurt: I only have positive memories from my time at BVB. I scored against Napoli in the UEFA Youth League. We also played away against Arsenal back then. Those are moments that you will never forget. No one can take those away from you, even if I didn’t manage to break through to the first team in the end.
DFB.de: What connections do you still have to Borussia Dortmund?
Kurt: The only one I’m in regular contact with is the former assistant coach, Eduard Graf, who is now a scout for BVB. He came to a few games last season to watch my former club SC Verl play.
DFB.de: Why didn’t it work out for you at BVB?
Kurt: Back then, I had the chance to join either SSV Jahn Regensburg or Sportfreunde Lotte in the third division as a 19 year old. But, I decided to join Sivasspor in Turkey’s first division instead. I was being advised by the wrong people back then and, looking back on it now, it was the wrong decision. After two months in Turkey, I came back to Germany two days before the summer transfer window closed and signed for Lüneburger SK.
DFB.de: You then enjoyed stints at Sportfreunde Siegen and 1. FC Kaan-Marienborn in the Regionalliga. Why did you have to take this ‘detour’ before finally making it in professional football?
Kurt: After the U19s, I was only following the money and was hoping to be able to break through in the Süper Lig. But, then all of a sudden I was back in the fourth tier in Germany. That wasn’t what I’d been working towards. After my move to Sivasspor didn’t work out, I was in a tough place. It was really hard for me to perform because I wasn’t in the right headspace.
DFB.de: How did you manage to get back to the top? What was the key for you?
Kurt: SC Verl really helped me, even though I had left the club by then. But, I’d never lost touch with them. Verl’s president Raimund Bertels and head coach Guerino Capretti always believed in me. Sebastian Lange, the goalkeeping coach that I’d played alongside during my first stint at Verl, also helped me get back on track.
DFB.de: Would you describe yourself as a ‘late bloomer?’
Kurt: I had worked hard before and was on the right path. At the end of the day, I was the one to mess things up for myself. I was able to win back the confidence I’d lost only when I was back at SC Verl. The club talked me up during the contract discussions, to the point where I believed in myself again. After all, I couldn’t be that bad. There has to be some truth to that, is what I thought back then (laughs). Looking at it that way, it’s possible to call me a late bloomer.
DFB.de: SC Verl have experienced a steep rise over the last years, after being promoted to the 3. Liga and then finishing in seventh in their debut season in the league. How difficult was it for you to say goodbye?
Kurt: Very difficult, because I had built a very good relationship with management during those two years. The club helped me out of my crisis, and I owe them a lot.
DFB.de: You signed a two-year deal at your new club, SV Wehen Wiesbaden. What expectations do you have ahead of the upcoming 3. Liga season?
Kurt: I want to prove myself at SV Wehen Wiesbaden and prove that I can do well outside of Verl. I want to take on a leading role and haven’t given up hope of being able to make it. I want to be as successful as possible. My goal is to make it to Bundesliga 2.
DFB.de: Do you think you’ll be promoted this season?
Kurt: Why not? I believe it’s possible, otherwise I wouldn’t have made this move.
DFB.de: How important will it be to get off to a strong start in the new season?
Kurt: If you win your first few games, then that helps you gain self-confidence and can carry you far. That also includes the DFB-Pokal. At SC Verl, we knocked out FC Augsburg in the first round two years ago. All of a sudden afterwards, things were just going our way in the league.
DFB.de: Could it be an advantage for Wiesbaden to be already in competition mode, while the DFB-Pokal game will be Dortmund’s first competitive fixture under new head coach Marco Rose?
Kurt: That could be the case, because we will have been able to get into a rhythm by them. The DFB-Pokal is always a chance for the underdog to serve for surprise. Last season, fourth-tier Rot-Weiss Essen knocked out Bundesliga side Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
DFB.de: How likely is it that SV Wehen Wiesbaden will be able to upset defending champions Dortmund?
Kurt: I think we have a chance and am not ruling it out. We will definitely give it everything in order to make things as difficult as possible for our opponents.
DFB.de: Who will be able to stop BVB’s Erling Haaland?
Kurt: One man won’t be enough to keep world-class players like Haaland or Marco Reus under control. We will only be able to manage that as a team. We need to have a perfect day, and have the opposite be the case for BVB.
DFB.de: You will be able to get a preview of what it could be like from the upcoming friendlies against Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer 04 Leverkusen. How important are games like that ahead of the DFB-Pokal?
Kurt: The results from those kinds of friendlies aren’t always a sign of what’s to come. However, the manner in which you approach these games is very important. Both opponents are strong sides, and you cannot allow them to find their form. That’s also what we’ll be up against in the DFB-Pokal. That’s why friendlies can also be good preparation for games like that.
DFB.de: So far, Wiesbaden have faced BVB just once across all competitions. Dortmund won 1-0 after extra time in the second round of the cup in 2000/01. What will you need in order to cause the favourites problems once again?
Kurt: We need to push ourselves to the limit in order to have a chance. Everyone in the team needs to be at their best and push themselves hard.