Lewandowski is close to breaking my record
He is one of the oldest players in Bundesliga history. He has made over 450 Bundesliga appearances for Werder Bremen, Bayern Munich and Cologne, and only four players in the league’s history have scored more goals than him. This season, he joined Bremen for a mind-blowing fifth time and does not look at retiring any time soon. He is currently in South Af- rica with the Bundesliga side for their mid-season camp in Johannesburg and Soccer Laduma’s David Kappel was able to chat to legendary striker Claudio Pizarro – one of the German league’s most lethal forwards. In this exclusive interview, the 40-yearold opens up about why he joined Bremen for a fifth time, becoming the foreign player with most Bundesliga goals, his time at Bayern Munich and his experience in South Africa so far.
David Kappel: Hello, Claudio, thanks for taking your time to chat to us. How excited are you about coming to South Africa for a mid-season camp?
Claudio Pizarro: I’m really excited because I’ve never been to South Africa. But I have heard many good stories and I hope we can also see a bit of Johannesburg and the country. I’m sure we will have a very good preparation there.
DK: Bremen started the season well, but then dipped after match day nine. Why do you think your side struggled of late?
CP: A Bundesliga season is long. It is normal that you cannot win every game. We’ve had a few situations where we’ve been trying hard. It was much better against Dusseldorf. Now we have three games ahead of us until the winter break when we want to make it better again. It will not be easy as we face three top league teams, but we will try to get our points.
DK: You are one of the oldest Bundesliga players in history and four years older than your coach Florian Kohfeldt. Do you at times help him with some advice?
CP: I certainly do not need to give him any tips. But we talk a lot about football, about the upcoming games, the opponents and ways the teams are playing. And if I can help him, I’m glad. Ultimately, it is the coach who makes the decisions.
DK: You hold the record for most goals by a foreign player in Bundesliga history and are fifth in the overall scoring ranking. How much do these records mean to you?
CP: Of course, this is something special for me and I will try to keep these records as long as possible. But Robert Lewandowski is quickly catching up. So I’ll try to score again in the next games (laughs).
DK: You joined Werder for a fifth time at the beginning of the season. What
are the reasons that you keep on coming back to the club?
CP: I love this club. Werder opened the door to Europe for me. I will always be grateful for that. So I want to give something back to the club, the fans and the city. I just feel comfortable here – you can feel the love from the club and the fans. There is an extraordinary connection between me and the club.
DK: Your most successful spell in terms of trophies and goals came at Bayern Munich. What separates Bayern as a club from the rest of the Bundesliga?
CP: That’s hard to describe. Bayern is always the top team in the league. They want to win at least one title every year – nationally and internationally. They always just want to win. They always have a really good team together with a lot of very good players and they usually stay involved in all competitions until the end.
DK: How did it feel to lift the UEFA Champions League trophy in 2013?
CP: I think it was the most successful year of my career. We had an amazing team of outstanding individuals and won the Bundesliga, the DFB Pokal Cup and the Champions League. We became the first-ever German team to win the treble. That was something very special for me and also for my family and my native country Peru.
DK: You also had a spell with Chelsea in the Premier League. If you compare the Bundesliga with the English league, what are the differences between the two? CP: It’s hard to compare the two leagues. In England, they may play a little faster towards g goal and a bit m more physical. In t the Bundesliga, o on the other h hand, more emphasis is placed on the actual game play. Even th hough there are, of course, some e eams in the Premier League that are currently putting more emphasis s on the style of play. DK: Who are the best players you have played with throughout your career?
CP: There were really many. For me, as an attacker, the midfielders were always very important. And there were two key players for me. These were Mehmet Scholl and Ze Roberto in my time at Bayern Munich. Both of them made sure I could score a lot of goals. But I also remember Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack, Thiago Alcantara and Bastian Schweinsteiger. I could list so many…
DK: You grew up in Peru’s capital in Lima. How difficult were your youth days and how much does football mean to the people in Peru?
CP: It was not that easy when I was young. There were many structural problems in politics in Peru. But overall, I would say that I had a happy childhood. Football has always been my passion and that’s what I focused on. Football means a lot to the people of Peru. This was particularly felt when Peru qualified for the World Cup again after 36 years. Everyone was happy and wanted to support the team at the World Cup. That was something special for everyone.
DK: How much has your game as a striker changed with age? What are the differences?
CP: I just have more experience now (laughs). Maybe I will not be up so fast now, but faster in my head. I can better assess game situations. You just learn that over time. DK: How have you enjoyed your time in South Africa so far? CP: I like getting to know new countries and new cultures. My impression of South Africa is very goods so far. Everyone is very nice and hardworking. Unfortunately, we have not been able to see too much, but we were already at the game of Kaizer Chiefs against Mamelodi Sundowns, the Apartheid Museum and Soweto, for example. That was good, to get a glimpse of the history of the country.
DK: As you said, you watched Chiefs against Sundowns at FNB Stadium. How was the experience and how would you rate the level of the game?
CP: It was very impressive. The fans made for a great atmosphere and everyone danced. I would have liked to join in too. The game was very intense. It is not as fast as in Germany, but that is mainly due to the condition of the pitch. Otherwise, it was a very intense game.
DK: Your game against Chiefs was ended prematurely by bad weather, but how would you rate the match?
CP: It is difficult to judge the game, as we unfortunately could not play until the end.
DK: Has the thought of retiring towards the end of the season crossed your mind?
CP: I said at the beginning of the season that it would be my last year. The problem is that I feel very good. So I cannot say exactly how it goes on (laughs).
DK: Thanks for your time Claudio. Enjoy the rest of your stay in South Africa and good luck for the second half of the season.
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