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Mario Gomez didn’t score, but he did force the decisive goal – quite literally – to hand Stuttgart a priceless 1-0 home win over Hertha Berlin on Matchday 18.

With the contest 78 minutes old, the 32-year-old Germany striker burst into the Hertha area with the fleet-footed pep of a player half his age, only to have his heels clipped by defender Niklas Stark. Even he thought the chance was gone, but in a bizarre passage of play Stark contrived to sweep the loose ball into his own net from 16 yards.

For Gomez – back at his boyhood club following nine goal-laden years with record German champions Bayern Munich, Serie A side Fiorentina, Turkish outfit Besiktas and, most recently, Bundesliga rivals Wolfsburg – it was a comeback beyond even his wildest dreams…

Watch: Mario Gomez reflects on his first game back at Stuttgart

Question: You played your part in a strange goal that won the game for Stuttgart. Describe it for us…

Mario Gomez: It was a funny goal because it was out of my hands. I thought it was a clear penalty and a Hertha red card. Luckily, the Hertha player scored an own goal. At that point I thought: ‘OK, we’ll take it, let’s crack on.’

Question: Is it like a dream come true for you in this moment, being back at Stuttgart?

Gomez: Without a doubt. I can’t remember a match I’ve played in recent years that was as special to me as this one against Hertha. In the last few days, I felt more like a youth player, like I did before my first match all those years ago. It was really special; I’m really happy to be here and to have won the game. We got all three points – it’s a fantastic weekend for us.

Question: How would you rate your own performance on your comeback?

Gomez: At 32, I’m at the age where the team’s performance comes before my own. All that matters to me is that we won. The rest doesn’t matter. I think we played well. We were a bit nervous in the first half, but we had a great chance and scored. At the end of the day, we had to win – it didn’t matter how.

Question: What can we expect from you from now until the end of the season?

Gomez: In football terms, I’m seen as old, but I don’t feel it. I think I’ve still got something to give this club and I’m going to work hard for it. I’m looking forward to the next games.

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