You are now eleven years in business, but your first name is sometimes falsely written with "c". Do you find it reassuring that Bayern coach Niko Kovac sometimes happens as well?
I'm relatively unpretentious. I think it is also rather exotic to write Niko with "k". It's going to be surprising to many now, too, that my name is actually Nikolas, not Niko …
… that's how you come after eleven years …
… yes, I have kept that secret for a long time.
Do you find your club loyalty exceptional?
It has never been so extraordinary for me. But I've heard that in the Bundesliga, after Franck Ribery and Fabian Lustenberger, I'm the third-longest club member. It shows then that such a thing is not quite common today. And when I look at older team posters, I sometimes think: that's the madness, what goes through there in such a short time. Sometimes in a change period, there are ten to twelve players leaving the club. And then you look at a poster from three years ago and you can see a handful of players who are still there today. From my first day in Mainz, even the functional team is left with Stephan Kuhnert, Physio Stefan Stüwe, of course Walter Notter and Axel Busenkell.
They have been six times on the pitch this season, on Saturday against Hoffenheim is probably the seventh time to end the season. They had a great appearance in the important home game against SC Freiburg. Is that a satisfactory conclusion for you?
There are mixed feelings. Of course it's an improvement over the previous season when I was barely operational for a full year. By contrast, that was a step forward now. On the other hand, there were long periods when I felt that I was in a good mood and in my opinion it was not wrong to see me in the starting lineup. There would certainly have been one or the other game more possible. But I am not one who tries to put the negative aspects in the foreground, whether for this season or my entire career. I am glad that I was allowed to spend the whole time as a professional footballer, I am happy about the mentioned Freiburg match, which was very special for me. In that sense, on the whole, I can cede with a good feeling.
Sandro Schwarz has said that he will give away no service times on Saturday, but after performance set up. Do you see the chance for a starting mission?
It is like in all games so that I would like to stand in the square. And of course it would be nice to get out of the cabin last time and be in the starting eleven. That would be something special.
Was it ever a topic for you to change the club again, or was it no longer in the planning?
(tagToTranslate) Thomas Tuchel (t) Niko Bungert (t) Yunus Malli (t) Niko Kovac (t) Franck Ribéry (t) Fabian Lustenberger (t) Stephan Kuhnert