You seem to play with absolutely no fear out on the pitch, holding nothing back. It thus comes as little surprise that you’ve picked up a few scars over the years. Are there any which have a special place in your heart?
''Absolutely – the scar between my eyes, which dates back to the match against Ingolstadt in April 2016. We were caught up in a relegation battle and managed to get a vital 2-1 win. It was a tough match, a real sporting battle for survival. The scar is a fitting memorial to the match, the fight against relegation and our excellent finish to the season.''
What happened exactly?
''I wanted to head away an Ingolstadt corner and focused solely on making contact with the ball. However, as I jumped up in the air my face crashed into Benni Hübner's elbow. Benni was still playing for Ingolstadt back then, and he certainly isn't the type to shy away from a tackle. I really felt the collision and I realised that the skin between my eyes had been cut open. I had four stitches put in right next to the goal and then got given a head covering by the team doctor. I played on, but I have to admit it was pretty difficult to see with all the bandaging I had on.''
Being substituted off wasn't an option?
''No, even though it was really painful. At first I thought that I'd broken my nose. Then I had a feel of it and realised that it was ok - though my hand ended up covered in blood. When I saw all the blood, I suffered something of a blackout - it was the first time I'd experienced anything like that before. I got up to the ground really quickly. Fortunately there were no opposing players near me, as I might well have ended up knocking into them. Then I saw the familiar face of our team doctor Sören Johannsen, which definitely helped put me at ease again.''
What happened after the match?
''The adrenaline was enough to get me through the match and distract me from the pain. In the dressing room afterwards, the four temporary stitches I’d been given were taken out, the wound was disinfected and then stitched up once more. It was a pretty unpleasant experience for me, and a difficult task for the medical staff given that the wound was right between my eyes. I actually got someone to film it all as I wanted to see what it looked like. I had to be careful in training afterwards, but in the end it healed no problem. I’ve had a few cuts in my time, and broken my nose too. My mum was in the stadium and was pretty worried about me. Now, all that remains is the scar. And I actually think it fits in perfectly with my 'Iron-Ermin' image.''
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