The news broke yesterday that after three-and-a-half years together,
Albert Vallci is leaving us, with the defender moving to FC St. Gallen in the Swiss top flight. We loved having him here, even if the 27-year-old often suffered injury misfortune that denied us the chance to see him as much as we would have liked to at the Red Bull Arena. We spoke to Bertl for one last interview as a Red Bull.
Do you remember your first day here in Salzburg?
I remember very well, as it was a very special day. It was the winter, and we had a friendly match in Anif. I had been introduced to the team shortly beforehand. It was something very special and new, and I hadn't experienced anything like it before. I was a bit nervous, but full of eager anticipation.
Hannes Wolf sat near me, and Sladdi right next to me. At the first training camp, in Portugal, I was in a room with Hannes Wolf and Cican Stankovic. I got into the cardplaying group really quickly, and was an enthusiastic member right away. It was very easy becoming part of the team, and I felt at home very quickly.
How would you look back on your time here? Was it a positive time despite your injury problems?
I think it was a mix of very positive and negative experiences due to the injuries. I had my most difficult injuries by some distance in Salzburg. On the other hand, I had my biggest highlights on the pitch here. From my first Champions League appearance, to the Europa League knockout stages, the cup and the league titles up to my call up to the national team.
As I'm a person who likes to take the positive from negative experiences, they are mostly positive experiences for me. You have to be able to deal with these kind of things.
What was your favourite moment on the pitch?
Well, it has to be my first goal for FC Red Bull Salzburg. Then the unexpected call-up to the Austrian national team.
After 15 months out injured also making my comeback in the friendly match against Liverpool was a very special moment due to the opponents and level. I hadn't expected I would get the chance to play in front of a full house here again.
And your favourite moment off the pitch?
There is no special one in particular. It has to be the sum of all the moments. From the start to the close friendships I have formed with so many players. We had a really cool team spirit. It has been a lot of fun, both on and off the pitch.
Also things like getting my first dog, my first apartment together with my girlfriend - this all happened during this time, and makes it so special altogether.
I am so grateful to the people who helped me for so long and supported me during my recovery. They kept me fit so that I can be back on the pitch. It could have gone very differently.
Was your appearance in the big friendly match against Liverpool already a kind of farewell?
Honestly speaking, yes. I had discussions about the transfer beforehand, and it was clear to me that I would to take a step back after the long injury break. I need playing time, that is the bottom line. Football moves very fast. So yeah, I really enjoyed playing 45 minutes against Liverpool. I have always loved putting the shirt on and have always given my best. Liverpool was like a personal farewell match for me!
Will we see you from time to time at the Red Bull Arena or in Taxham?
I guess so. I have my apartment here in Salzburg. I will definitely be around here and again. I am still in contact with a lot of players, and will remain a fan of the club. I'll come as much as I can - if I can get
Who or what will you miss the most?
A lot of people won't get it, but the feeling of travelling to the training centre in Taxham in the morning, going up and seeing the team and all the staff - just this atmosphere. It is a special feeling to be in the dressing room and amid the entire set-up, and I will definitely miss that. I will always be closely connected to the region, the city and the club, as I just had a special time here. From that point of view, I don't see it as a complete goodbye.
What are you looking forward to doing the most now?
Getting back on the pitch and concentrating only on football. I am pleased that I am fit again and can do what I enjoy the most - being at the stadium and playing in front of people. FC St. Gallen are very ambitious, and I hope to enjoy some successes there too.
Do you have any last words for now to all the Red Bulls and the fans?
I am going as a player but remain a fan.