Ashley Hartog - Fact File

Hartog Hoping For A Positive Season At Maritzburg United

Since the season started, Ashley Hartog has been one of the key players for Maritzburg United and he seems to be reveling in his new role as the club’s captain. This is a far cry from last season, where he only started nine league games and batted niggling injuries. He talks about why he and his teammates have to make the most of their opportunities and why he only made his PSL debut at the age of 28.

Personal Information
Full Names: Ashley Jerome Hartog
Date of birth: 1 September 1982
Place of birth: Ocean View, Cape Town
Nickname: Ash
Jersey no: 25
Position: Midfielder-cum striker
Club: Maritzburg United
Previous Clubs: Western Province United, Sint-Truidense (Belgium, on loan) FC Cape Town, Supersport United
Honours: 2011/12 SuperSport United Player of the Season and Player’s Player of the Season, 2012/13 Nedbank Cup Runner-up with SuperSport United

Team of Choice have had a decent start to the season, continuing from last season’s finish.
I think it’s because we are looking to reach greater heights. We are striving for bigger things as a club. The attitude of all the guys is good towards the game and we know we can have achieve this season. We are disappointed that we didn’t get that far in the Telkom Knockout. However, there is still the Nedbank Cup, but our priority is to end this season in the top eight.

What are some of the positive changes that Steve Khompela has brought about in the team since he took over?
He brought a lot to the team, you can see the guys are more confident and believe in themselves. Before he came here, it almost looked like the players didn’t believe they could do certain things. Since Steve came here, there’s been a different vibe because everybody believes that we can do this…that we can do the impossible.  As a player here, you have the freedom to do what you can do.
He will always tell you to go out there and express yourself. He always emphasizes that it’s not only about now, because if you have a good season, you might end up at a bigger club. He puts positive things into the heads of the guys, and makes them believe they have the opportunity to play for the likes of Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates where they can make money. Soccer is a game where you can make your money, so it’s now or never. While you are still playing you must try and make money.

Let’s talk about your role as captain. We hear that you were chosen by the players.
I really can’t tell you why they chose me as captain because when they approached me to hand the armband over, I told the coach that I don’t want the armband now, he said the players don’t usually come in from another team and get the armband, So I told them I will take the armband.

What are your responsibilities as the skipper?
Well, I’m not one of the guys who talks a lot and yells at the players. I just think one of my responsibilities is to show them that there is a future for everybody and that, if you work hard, you will achieve what you want to. I think I’m on the right track because I give my best each every time I play. I’m leading by example to show that in each and every game I want to win, and if I do lose, I must lose trying. That’s how I am. Since I started playing soccer, I like to work for what I want.

Do you find that there is more pressure on you now that you are captain?
I thought there was going to be a lot of pressure on me, but with my teammates around me, I don’t think there is a lot of pressure because everybody is working hard and doing their job. If that is going to be the case throughout the season, I don’t think there’s going to be any pressure on me.

Last season you only started nine league games.
Last season was one of the toughest seasons I have ever had, with injuries and stuff. This season I went through the pre-season, worked very hard not to get injured and got myself stronger, mentally and physically. I think the difference between last season and this season is that I’m at the right spot at the moment and I still thank God for what he put me through because if it had not been for the injuries last season, I wouldn’t have been as strong as I am today. All that has made me fight for what I want. I have wanted to be a fit player and I am that player today.

Lastly, in 2007 you went and played for Sint-Truidense in Belgium. Tell us about that.
I was contracted for a year and certain things happened and I had to come back. I actually broke my leg. I had to come back and recover this side.