It almost became a very successful debut. Hertha BSC played against FC Ingolstadt in February 2017 and Jordan Torunarigha came on for Vedad Ibisevic shortly before the end of his Bundesliga debut. Seconds later, the trained central defender had the ball moving forward. Torunarigha put it cleverly on Alexander Esswein, it was a huge chance to make it 2-0 – but Esswein missed the goal. It didn’t matter in the end, Hertha BSC still won.

Torunarigha was 19 when he made his first of 73 Bundesliga appearances for Hertha, in which he scored five goals. Now his time in Berlin ends. The defender, whose contract runs until 2023, will move to KAA Gent in Belgium. Hertha announced on Monday afternoon that Torunarigha had left the training camp in Burton-upon-Trent for negotiations – the transfer was then confirmed by the Berliners on Tuesday.

His contract in Berlin would have run for another year, the transfer fee should be around 3.5 million euros. Torunarigha had already been on loan to Gent in the previous second half of the season. He had won the Belgian Cup with the club in the spring. Recently there had also been rumors about a possible move to England.

Hertha is still looking for reinforcements in several positions, but in central defense there is an oversupply in the overall squad that is still far too large. Omar Alderete, who was also on loan last season, will also leave Hertha. According to “Kicker” he is a hot candidate for the Spanish first division club Getafe.

Torunarigha had already come to Hertha in 2006 and from then on had gone through all the youth teams in the club – more homegrown talent is hardly possible. In 2015 he won the DFB Cup with the Berliners in the amateur stadium against Energie Cottbus, in 2016 there was a defeat in the final against Hannover 96. Torunarigha has played in several junior national teams of the German Football Association and was at the 2021 Olympics.

Fast, robust, strong in one-on-one combat, very good abilities even going forward, many Hertha fans had hoped that Torunarigha would become a fixture in the professional team for years to come. “Jordan brings a lot with him. If he has security, he has a very good structure, plays good passes and can also be very consistent on the man,” Hertha’s former coach Bruno Labbadia once said about Torunarigha.

But there was a lack of consistency. And if he fought for a place in the starting XI for a long time, injuries always threw him back.

During the round of 16 in the DFB Cup in February 2020 at FC Schalke 04, Torunarigha was racially insulted by spectators in the second half. He cried on the pitch during the game. After that there were numerous expressions of solidarity, also from Hertha fans before the home game at the weekend against FSV Mainz 05.

Last Saturday, the 24-year-old wore the Hertha shirt for the last time in a friendly without spectators as part of the training camp in England. The Berliners played 45 minutes each against FC Halifax Town and Salford City and won 2-1. Torunarigha was involved in Maximilian Mittelstädt’s equalizer, but he headed the winning goal himself on a pass from Vladimir Darida.