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Hunt relishing Tottenham test

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Chris Bevan | 10:15 UK time, Monday, 13 September 2010

How do you begin to try to replace a player like Mesut Ozil, the German World Cup star lauded as one of the best players on the planet before he left Werder Bremen for Real Madrid in the summer? With great difficulty, was my guess.

But the Bundesliga side, who are Tottenham's first opponents in Group A of the Champions League on Tuesday, don't seem to be missing Mr Ozil too much. Maybe because they already had two other versatile and skilful young forwards with dual-nationality on their books.

The first is Bosnia-born Marko Marin - known as 'the German Messi', which is not a bad label for any player to earn - and the second is Aaron Hunt, a Goslar-born forward with an English mother who was reportedly trailed by Fabio Capello before opting to play for the country of his birth last year.

Hunt came through the youth ranks at Werder Bremen

Hunt came through the youth ranks at Werder Bremen

Bremen boss Thomas Schaaf has already used both men in the 'Ozil role' - at the tip of a midfield diamond and behind two strikers - this season and Spurs boss Harry Redknapp is sufficiently wary of the threat they pose to have signalled that he will change from his usual 4-4-2 formation to try to contain them at the Weserstadion.

It was Hunt who starred in that position as his side took Sampdoria apart in the first leg of their final qualifying-round tie last month, linking up brilliantly with frontmen Claudio Pizarro and Hugo Almeida in a 3-1 victory.

The 24-year-old missed the second leg through a viral infection but Werder sneaked through 5-4 on aggregate after extra-time to reach the group stage of Europe's premier club competition for the fifth time in the last six years.

How will they fare against Spurs, Inter Milan and FC Twente? I spoke to Hunt to try to find out - well, with the help of BBC Sport's Martin Richardson and his fluent German anyway. Although Hunt can speak a bit of English, he understandably prefers to stick to his first language over the telephone and was a more relaxed interviewee as a result.

With Hunt's Anglo-German background - he was a Liverpool fan as a boy, has an uncle in London who is a "big Arsenal fan" and his grandfather went to the same Northumberland school as Bobby Charlton - it's perhaps not surprising he is relishing playing Spurs as much as defending champions Inter.

"I've always followed English football," said Hunt, who was friendly and happy to talk at length. "The atmosphere of games against English teams is always very good, so we are looking forward to playing Spurs. I think we are equally matched. Both ourselves and Tottenham are very good offensively and have some very good players in the forward positions, so you can expect an open, exciting game and a few goals."

Hunt may be asked to operate behind the front two again on Tuesday but he is equally comfortable on the either flank and says being viewed as Ozil's successor is not important to him.

"For us, it is not a big deal who will be replacing him in the side," Hunt explained. "All our attacking players have always swapped in and out of the team a lot, such as myself and Marko, so there is no great competition about who will play where Mesut played.

Hunt made his senior Germany debut in November 2009

Jogi Loew gave Hunt his senior Germany debut in November 2009

"That we can all play in many different positions in attack and that none of us has a regular position and that we can swap and move around a lot is a great advantage and one that makes us such a dangerous attacking team."

The fact Hunt has a useful left foot is probably one of the reasons why Capello despatched his assistant Stuart Pearce to watch him in action last year and why England investigated the possibility of poaching a player who had played for Germany 26 times at Under-16, Under-17 and Under-21 level before making his senior bow for Jogi Loew's side against the Ivory Coast in November 2009.

According to Hunt, though, England never made contact with him - and he is now focusing on winning a place in Loew's squad for their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign after winning his second full cap in their post-World Cup friendly with Denmark.

"Of course I used to consider whether I should play for Germany or England," he said. "But I never got the chance to make the decision as no-one from England really took an interest or made the effort to ask me.

"I got selected for the German youth teams and last year made my full debut for Germany, so that is that. I think I have got a good chance of getting called up again if I do well in the Bundesliga and in Europe. I see it as an advantage that I can play anywhere in attack - on the right, left or as a playmaker."

Hunt will never represent England now but he is still keen on playing on these shores in the future. Although he signed a new Werder contract that lasts until 2014 earlier this year and says he is happy there for the foreseeable future, he describes the Premier League as "the most attractive and best league in the world".

"It would be a great opportunity to play there," Hunt added. "Germany has been catching up in the last few years, with new stadiums and better players coming to the Bundesliga, but England is still number one."

It's clear Hunt knows a lot about English football but I'm not sure sure we know so much about him. I admit that, before watching him against Sampdoria, the main reason his name was familiar to me was because of allegations he racially abused Anton Ferdinand and Micah Richards during a Germany-England Under-21 international in 2006.

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World Cup 2010: Ozil opens scoring against Ghana with stunner (UK only)

After initially being given a two-game ban, Hunt was exonerated by Uefa and is adamant that he is innocent of racially abusing Ferdinand and Richards in what he admits was a bad-tempered match featuring "fierce verbal exchanges".

"The incident had nothing to do with racism," said Hunt. "I have many black team-mates and friends. I didn't think it was a big deal at the time when it happened and it was a surprise that it went as far as it did because I explained myself to a Uefa official who was at the match at the time.

"The rest of the German team and also our coach Dieter Eilts didn't understand why it had been made into such a big problem. It was a relief to be cleared so that I was not put into a category that I absolutely do not belong to."

Depending on how he gets on against Spurs, Hunt might get some recognition in this country for the right reasons this week. Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City have all been linked with him in the past 12 months and we could be seeing a lot more of him in the future.

Thanks to BBC Sport's Martin Richardson, who interviewed Hunt in German.

You can follow me through the season on Twitter at


  • Comment number 1.

    Spurs fan here. I have to be honest I don't know toomuch about Hunt or Werder. I do however think that even though this is the first game it could be the most crucial. Avoid defeat here and it sets us up for the rest of the group games. COYS!

  • Comment number 2.

    I've seen a little of Hunt play, seems like a very talented youngster (like a lot of the Werder Bremen side). Spurs will face a very hard task getting out of this group, especially if they carry on their early season league form.

  • Comment number 3.

    I've seen a bit of Hunt in the Bundesliga and he seems to be a very classy operator with the ball at his feet. I think that this will be a massive test for Tottenham, because they seem to blow hot and cold at times. If they aren't on top of their games they still struggle to grind out the results (despite the artcile on this website just the other day where Huddlestone said the opposite). On form they can be irresistable in attack, but especially with the recent injuries I think they'll concede.

    Having said all that, I think 'Arry woudn't mind too much if Tottenham were knocked out of Europe because it really could scupper their genuine hopes of breaking into the top four for a while to come. Over-exert themselves in Europe and Spurs could see Liverpool, Man City and Everton just pip them come the end of the season. It'll be really interesting to see 'Arry's lineup.

  • Comment number 4.

    Have the BBC got a vendetta against Spurs? First an article about Scott Sutter "plotting the downfall" of THFC, and now this?!?

    Please BBC, stop making me even more nervous than I already am!

    Peace out

  • Comment number 5.

    Werder Bremen fan here.

    Although Hunt does have his days, Marko Marin is far more dangerous than him. He isn't called the German Messi for nothing! I'm thoroughly looking forward to both sets of games between the teams.

  • Comment number 6.

    German dad, English mother, surname Hunt. So I'm guessing his dad has some sort of English dad and German mother?

    Just a thought.

    Yes they have some very good attacking players, but so do Spurs. It should be a good game and don't forget, both sides a re missing key players in similar positions.

    @jcb211. Your second paragraph - I've never read so much rubbish in my entire life.

  • Comment number 7.

    which bit. that spurs have a genuine chance or that Harry wouldn't mind? Obviously he'd be very disappointed but come the end of the season if Spurs do well again he might not regret it too much. He's already said that it's a problem with players like King who won't play both Champ League and Prem.

  • Comment number 8.

    You mean Dieter Eilts, I think, not Dieter Ellis. That'd be a good story, too, though: a German coach with British parentage managing a German player with British parentage.

  • Comment number 9.

    for all of werder bremes potential attacking force, they have a big defensive weaqkness, sometimes theycan ship so many goals from a poor defence, just watch them play hoffenheim at the beginning of the season.

  • Comment number 10.

    jcb211 - You honestly think Harry wouldnt mind?! What planet are you on!! Spurs played their hearts out to finish 4th last season so Harry will be desperate to go as far in this competition as possible. First time we've been in this competition for years and being knocked out is no guarantee of finishing 4th - stop writing such dross!

    As for the game, it'll be close. But WB need to equally watch out for Spurs. Modric, Lennon, Bale, Couch, VDV are all quality players and we can get at them

  • Comment number 11.

    Nice article Chris..always good to hear the thoughts of English club's opponents, brings a bit of balance to things. Have to agree with #5 that Bremen's main threat should come from Marko Marin 'the German Messi' though not Hunt..he is no Ozil.

    Interesting the piece ended with a comment involving Hunt's racism row. Sad it comes at a time the German National squad is never more racially intergrated. Hunt (Half-English), Marin (born in Bosnia), Ozil (Turkish extraction), Mario Gómez (Half-Spanish), Miroslav Klose - Lukas Podolski (Polish), Cacau (Brazilian), Sami Khedira (Half Tunisian)and so on. Does his exoneration imply Richards and Ferdinand were exaggerating the abuse or is it another case of UEFA preaching respect on one hand and sweeping it under the carpet with the other? Did Hunt relay what he actually said?

  • Comment number 12.

    At 4:45pm on 13 Sep 2010, Toby wrote:
    jcb211 - You honestly think Harry wouldnt mind?! What planet are you on!! Spurs played their hearts out to finish 4th last season so Harry will be desperate to go as far in this competition as possible. First time we've been in this competition for years and being knocked out is no guarantee of finishing 4th - stop writing such dross!
    Realistically, Tottenham have very very very little chance of winning it. It's going to be a very tight finish for 4th. Of course he'd mind initially, but the point that I'm trying to make is that come the end of the season he'll see it as a blessing in disguise. It's going to be a very tight finish for 4th, and if King plays midweek and then Spurs concede a few unnecessary goals on the Saturday i think it'll hinder the club. If I were a Spurs fan, I'd be concerned about that. I'm not saying that Spurs will be happy to go out, or that they should field a weakened team. And of course they want to go as far as they can. But Tottenham have a chance to establish themsleves in 4th spot again, and build on success. Doing it again and again builds revenue and prestige in the tournament.

    Are you not concerned that if injuries and fatigue from Champions League affects your Saturday performances you'll do what Everton did and fall away? The reason they struggled was because they didn;t have the players, but Spurs do and can keep improving.

  • Comment number 13.

    Good blog. Here we get some genuine insight into the guys views beyond purely superficial comments. Imagine if players weren't so poorly treated in English football and we were able to read such interviews with players of domestic interest. Any inflammatory quote here that lazy journalists can get their hands on is trumpetted as "breaking news", its no wonder that high-profile players only ever give uninteresting diplomatic responses to provocative questions. Journalists simply look for a stick to beat these people with to the detriment of us all.

  • Comment number 14.

    Interesting blog, Chris. I honestly don't know much about Hunt, but a German work colleague who supports Werder had been singing the praises of Ozil and Marin in my ear for a while, so if he was that right about Ozil chances are Marin is going to a problem for Spurs.

    Also, with the players Spurs currently have out (Dawson, Defoe, Modric et al) I really can see this game being a bit challenge, let alone the group as a whole!

    @ Toby: I think what jcb211 is trying to point out, is that in the long run finishing 4th is MUCH more important to Spurs then an ultimately doomed run in the CL. Harry knows that, and I'm sure the board have made it clear which they'd rather have come the end of the season...4th spot in the EPL over the quarters (at very best) of the CL.

  • Comment number 15.

    I like this blog and I like Werder - the German equivalent of Spurs, should be a good game.

    So Spurs work their socks off to get in the CL, but should ditch any hope of progressing to reclaim 4th? Anyone else see the irony in that?

    Of course I forget football is about making money now, all ambition of improving as a side and winning trophies is futile. But then, how did Blackpool make the prem de la creme?

  • Comment number 16.

    Disclaimer - my last statement may have given the impression that I actually like Spurs, though any resemblance to this character is fictitious and not based on real events.

  • Comment number 17.

    Spurs will have to be very very careful, indeed Bremen's defence is at times pretty poor, but you can't take your eye off the ball for a minute because they score lots of goals, usually the most in the Bundesliga; season after season.
    It is this that got them into the CL in the first place after being virtually down and out they came back from the dead in the return leg.

    Much more dangerous than Hunt are players like Claudio Pizaro and Marko Marin. It's very important to get numbers back quick if Werder break, a bit like Germany did at the WC.

    Spurs will have to get a good win at home because I suspect it'll be very difficult to win in Bremen.

  • Comment number 18.

    I hope this match lives up to its promise on paper as a good game.

    WB have been consistently good in recent years, although they did finish poorly a couple of seasons ago when they were in the last UEFA final. Someone above mentioned the Hoffenheim early season result but that came after their CL qual game. They drew with BM at the weekend. They are a very, very decent team and they normally go between 3rd place in the group or last 16 in the CL.

    Good to see Spurs in the CL and looking forward to a good end to end tie

  • Comment number 19.

    Spurs need to find some form but it will happen and when it does, they'll be difficult to beat again. Like last season don't forget they beat and outplayed Chelsea and Arsenal at home, Inter are very good but it really depends on who's up for it on the day. Spurs need confidence which is what got them through the end of last season... A draw a Bremen, even sneak a 0-1 and it's on! An uphill battle if it goes the other way. VDV had a blinder on Sat so expect more when they (Modric, Lennon, Bale, VDV, Huddlestone) gel. It's still the very beginning of the season with an entire CL to go and what 35 Prem games!!!... Let's just see what happens aye.

  • Comment number 20.

    Hello folks, thanks for the comments so far. It is going to be a very interesting game because like most of you, I'm expecting Werder to go for it... I'm not sure they know any other way - so much will depend on how Harry Redknapp approaches the game.

    Will he concentrate on keeping things tight , especially after the Young Boys debacle in the first leg in Switzerland, or will the fact Werder are without either of their first-choice centre-backs in Per Mertesacker and Naldo give Spurs more hope of getting what would be a fantastic win and make a real statement of intent in Group A. We shall see, but I suspect he would take a draw now...

    5/11/14/17 Yep, I'm looking forward to seeing Marko Marin too. He's another player who has been linked with a move to the Premier League so will be interesting to see how he gets on against Spurs.

    8/ Now changed... not sure where Ellis came from? Maybe I was thinking of Deadly Doug rather than Dieter!?!

  • Comment number 21.

    I have to say I really admire Werder Bremen for their playing style under Thomas Schaaf. He almost without fail plays with two strikers and a midfield diamond whilst preaching that attack is the best defence. Obviously it means that they will inevitably lose a lot of goals but still consistently finish in the Bundesliga top 4 with only the rare exception these days. The likes of Diego and Ozil have played unbelievably well in quite a fast-paced league and both Marin and Hunt will be looking to follow their example. To be honest I think his versatility has hindered Hunt in a way as he can be asked to fill in on either side or at the tip of the diamond, as well as up front, meaning he has never fully settled in any position.

    As for the Tottenham game it will be interesting to see the personnel on show for Werder Bremen with Pizarro, Mertesacker and Naldo all injured. At the weekend against Bayern they played 5 in midfield but its likely Schaaf will bring in another striker to partner Arnautovic, most probably Almeida. In midfield it will be interesting whether Wesley, their new signing from Brazil, will feature alongside Marin, Jensen, Hunt, Bargfrede or Borowski. Silvestre and Prodl will replace Naldo and Mertesacker at the back.

    Should be an interesting match of attacking football!

  • Comment number 22.

    If it was in England yo find a lad like this, we will say a player must be pure English before he can play for England. Ohh i forgot, the Coach to must be English and probabaly te fans around the world!!! hawhawhaw!!! I thot te german were the more wrong i am!!!!

  • Comment number 23.

    two stylish attacking teams who thrive on space and movement,so 0-0 probobly !

  • Comment number 24.

    Why do journalist always bang on about every half decent player wanting a "dream move" to the English premiership. It makes me cringe every time I hear the question being asked. What do you expect them to say? "Nein, your country's football you say...rubbish?".
    Of course they are going to say yes. The same way when a Spanish or Italian journalist asks if they would like a move to La Liga or Serie A they will declare those leagues to be the best in the world and tell of how they would love a move there.
    These guys are professional footballers and they know that moving clubs is inevitable in the modern game so they are keeping their options open. If you asked they if they would move to the Icelandic league they would politely tell you it could be an option one day.
    So please stop asking such ham fisted questions.
    P.S. no offence to the Icelandic league!

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    I lived quite close to Bremen in my formative years and, as such, follow them closely. I have to say i'd fear Marin more than Hunt, but either of them could be dangerous to Spurs.

    I don't think Hunt is quite ready for a move to Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool just yet, perhaps he should be looking at another season in Germany before a mid-table start in the EPL. He's got talent, and i feel United would be the best place to develop that, but Sir Alex isn't going to be around much longer and i'd hate to see him get shipped out after a couple of years.

    Definitely an interesting one to watch though. Good blog Chris, its always nice to get some information on the other European leagues.

  • Comment number 27.

    Massive match tonight, especially for Tottenham. I expect a tight match with not a lot of goals. Werder Bremen is a very good team so I think Bremen may win tonight! It is first ever match for all the Tottenham players so I think they will be nervous!

    Lets see what happens tonight!

  • Comment number 28.

    What i have seen of Hunt Europa league and a little in the German championship he looks the part and a game that would be suited to the Prem? strong on the ball, holds it up well, brings others into the game, good technique and gets his shair of goals. He has a reputation for being a little arrogant, being slightly difficult and a bit of a nasty streak which imo is nothing bad for a striker who is hungry. I would like to see him at Everton although whether he could consistently get twenty a season is hard to say as he has not looked like a out and out goalscorer but i dont doubt he would contribute to any team in the Prem. Berbatov cost thirty million so for me this fella would be a snip at half that price and imo would produce far more than Berbatov.

  • Comment number 29.

    #28, I've only seen him play about a dozen times, but I've never seen him play up front. Against Sampdoria he was superb in the first leg, almost unplayable. Drifted into space easily, and played perfectly weighted telling through balls throughout the game. His distribution is superb, and he can float past defenders with the ball, but like I said his biggest asset is his appreciation of space, something that our players seem to sorely lack. He seems a more than adequate replacement for Oezil to me. That said, I think Marin is just as dangerous, especially running at defenders. They play lovely, fluid attacking football like many teams in the Bundesliga now actually - such a joy to watch and sorely lacking in the Premier League.

  • Comment number 30.

  • Comment number 31.

    Signor Capello must have had his reasons for not contacting Aaron Hunt, otherwise what was there to lose ? A very adept and skilful player operating at the top level with a good left foot ? Rules are rules: you can play for a national team at every age group other than full international level and still switch to another country, if you qualify.

    Serious Football


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