Hartmann wants a goal a game
Eagles' new striker eyes a goal-laden finish to the year
He had his first taste of local football when he was thrown on as a substitute for Geylang International in the first leg of their RHB Singapore Cup quarter-final against Albirex Niigata.
The Eagles lost 2-0.
Striker Mark Hartmann started the second leg and opened his account for his new club after 23 minutes, although his side could only draw 2-2 and were eliminated from the competition.
Hartmann's goal, though, would have cheered the Eagles, after they signed him during the mid-season transfer window as a replacement for the misfiring Branko Cubrilo.
And the player himself would have been heartened, considering the two games were his first after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury only six months ago.
On Thursday, his goals against Balestier Khalsa rescued a point for his team in the The New Paper League Cup Group B clash
With eight games left in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League and the top three in sight, and The New Paper League Cup to play for, the 24-year-old is not afraid to set himself an ambitious target.Geylang striker Mark Hartmann, with girlfriend Nathalie Hayashi. TNP PHOTO: PHYLLICIA WANG
"A goal a game," said the striker, who is a fan of Manchester United and their new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
"It is always good to get the first goal out of the way early and I scored with a header, which is not the strongest aspect of my game, so I really want to make the rest of the season count.
"Sure, there's massive pressure coming in mid-season with no pre-season, just recovered from a serious injury and expected to score immediately. But, if strikers don't score, then what's the point?"
Hartmann won the United Football League, as well as the Golden Boot award, with Filipino giants Global in 2014.
The knee injury nearly derailed the Southampton-born forward's plans to become the first Filipino to play in the S.League, but it proved his determination, dedication and amazing powers of recovery.
He told The New Paper: "It was my first serious injury and the most difficult part of it was the time away from football.
"I had played and scored in Singapore when my former club Loyola Meralco Sparks took part in the Singapore Cup in 2012 and I also came back here with Global after that.
"So I know the standard of football here is good and more physical than in the Philippines, and I was keen to join when Geylang got in touch with me before the start of the season.
BACK ON TRACK
"Then I got injured and doctors told me the earliest I would be back playing was August, which would have ruled out even the mid-season transfer window.
"But I worked hard in the gym for a minimum of an hour a day, every day. The thing that kept me going was I really wanted to come to Singapore to play and I'm grateful for this opportunity to play for Geylang and get my career back on track."
With 18 caps and seven international goals, Hartmann is one of the many foreign-born players who have been recruited by the Philippine Football Federation to strengthen the national team; he qualifies as his mother was born in the Philippines.
Growing up in England, Hartmann played for both south-coast rivals Southampton and Portsmouth in his academy days, before moving to Swindon after he turned 16.
His older brother Matthew, who was playing for Portsmouth reserves, had met one of the foreign-born Philippine trailblazers Philip Younghusband in a match against Chelsea reserves and that eventually led to both Hartmann brothers becoming Philippine internationals.
"Moving to the Philippines was a good opportunity for me to stay in football," said the 1.82m Hartmann, who was in the Azkals side that made the 2014 Suzuki Cup semi-finals.
"Football has boomed in the Philippines... The national team have done well to climb the Fifa rankings (at 120th, the Azkals are the second-best Asean team, three spots behind Thailand and 29 ahead of Singapore).
"Our home games are always sold out and we are hosting the Suzuki Cup for the first time this year, so we are aiming to go to the final."