Le­wandowski is close to break­ing my record

Soccer Laduma - - Siyag Bhoza -

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.

Twit­ter l @Pizarrinha

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