Player Profile: Norwegian Rune Jarstein at Hertha BSC

Hertha Berlin have certainly been one of the surprise packages of this Bundesliga season. The club from the capital is currently sitting in third in the Bundesliga and surpassing expectations. An integral part of Hertha’s surprising success under Hungarian Coach Pál Dárdai has been their strong defensive record – it is the joint 3rd best in the league behind Bayern and Ingolstadt.

Perhaps the most important factor in Hertha’s defensive solidity is the former back-up goalkeeper turned number one, Rune Jarstein. The Norwegian initially found first team chances seriously limited after playing just three times in his first two seasons with BSC. Not now.  Thomas Kraft’s injury early in the season created opportunity, and Jarstein was thrown into first team action and has certainly impressed on his opportunities this season, keeping eight clean sheets in 16 appearances.

Jarstein is certainly an experienced player for both club and country. The Norwegian has represented his country in both youth and senior level. Jarstein initially impressed in his youth appearances for his country as he represented 30 times. He also has plenty of international experience, playing 38 times for the national side, making his debut in a 2-1 win against Argentina in 2007. Four years later, Jarstein became the first-choice goalkeeper of the national team; however this was short-lived as the No. 1 spot was given to Espen Bugge Petersen during the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying.

Nevertheless, Jarstein’s international career was revitalized when he was reinstated as the Norway No. 1, after making his comeback against Slovenia. However, the Norwegian’s international career took another twist when he was selected in the starting 11 for Norway’s Euro 2016 play-off against Hungary, in which they lost both legs.

The native of Skien, Norway also impressed in an accomplished career in the Norwegian Tippeligaen,  His Norwegian club career highlight occurred when he won the league with Rosenborg in 2009. Jarstein began his Tippeligaen career with Odd Greenland (now Odds BK) in 2002. He made 86 appearances for Odd Greenland before joining the league’s most illustrious club Rosenborg, who have won 23 national championships, in 2008 .

This is where Jarstein’s club career really took off as he helped the club to the 21st of its 23 titles. Jarstein made 55 appearances in two seasons with the current Norweigan champions before joining his 3rd Tippeligaen side, Viking FK. The 6’3″ keeper made the most appearances in his time in Norway featuring 129 times with the Stavanger club. Viking FK, however, struggled for consistency during Jarstein’s time there and he left to join his current side Hertha in 2013 after his contract expired at the Dark Blues.

Jarstein’s 2015-16 Bundesliga Stats

Note: stats courtesy of Squawka.com.

In Jarstein’s first two seasons in the Bundesliga, he made little impact and first chances were few and far between, with the Norwegian making just two appearances in as many years.  But that has changed.

This season the 31 year-old has been somewhat of a revelation impressing many in the Bundesliga. Jarstein is second only to the exceptional Manuel Neuer in Squawka’s  Bundesliga ‘Total Performance’ for Goalkeepers, with a score of 263. Compared to other Bundesliga keepers; Leno – 174, Hiltz – 238, Horn – 227, Burki – (-24) and Sommer – (-37). Jarstein has a number of individual stats as well that reinforce the view that he has been outstanding between the sticks for Hertha this season. The Norwegian has made no errors leading to goals this season and has an average claim success with 94%.

In addition to earning the  2nd most clean sheets in the Bundesliga so far this season, Jarstein has been included in Squawka’s team of the week on seven occasions during the 2015/2016 campaign. These statistics show that Jarstein’s plaudits have been justified and that the keeper has only been 2nd best to many people’s choice as the best keeper in the world – Manuel Neuer. It is has been this impressive form for Hertha that has lifted them to a Champions League berth in the Bundesliga and put them on course for the highest finish in the last decade. According to Squawka, Jarstein’s best performance of the season was against Augsburg in Hertha’s last home game two weeks ago when he kept a clean sheet in a 0-0.  The Norwegian will face a tough task this Saturday against the high-octane attack of Borussia Dortmund.

Jarstein Quick Facts:

Age: 31 (29/09/1984)

Height: 1.90m

Total Club Career Appearances: 289

International Apps: 38

Bundesliga Appearances: 17

(Header photo credit: Lennart Preiss, Getty Images)

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Max is an aspiring sports journalist, who has a big interest and passion for the Bundesliga, well as the English Premier and the SPFL in his home country of Scotland. @maxkellyLFC