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Bellarabi: 'We can be satisfied with fourth'

This season Bayer Leverkusen's Karim Bellarabi set the record for the fastest goal ever scored in the history of the Bundesliga. DW talked to the 25-year-old forward about his breakthrough year.

Watch video 05:04

(Video) Interview with Karim Bellarabi

DW: You set the record for the fastest Bundesliga goal ever scored - nine seconds into the first round of the season. Tell us about your personal highlights this season.

Karim Bellarabi: I think it all started with that goal, I was looking forward to this season a lot. I'd worked out a lot and had a good training camp. I was really glad it worked out with a goal - and after only nine seconds.

What else will you remember about the past 34 matchdays?

I think the most important thing is that we played a good season as a team. We can be satisfied with fourth place. We can now qualify for the Champions League. For me, personally, it was also a great year. I was called up to the German national team - that was really special. I think it was a very successful season for me.

You scored 12 goals and contributed 9 assists. Was there a specific moment when you thought: This is going to be my year?

Of course. Right from the start things fell into place. I got on well with the coach, and we communicated a lot. I felt good from the get-go and was able to push myself. I worked hard, and the coach put his faith in me. Everything came together.

Who were your favorite stars as a kid and how did they influence you?

As a little boy, you have a lot of respect for professional football players. One of my great dreams was just to meet a football player. I think most boys dream of being a pro football player. That was my goal as well. I had a lot of idols. I always liked watching Ronaldinho or Zinedine Zidane play.

Karim Bellarabi celebrates with other Bayer Leverkusen players

It's a team effort: Leverkusen's traditional end of season slump didn't really happen this year

Your breakthrough came relatively late. Any idea why?

I spent a year out injured. That was a difficult phase of course. And then I was loaned out to Braunschweig. I only returned this season and that's when it happened. I have no problem with it taking a while, I'm just happy things worked out.

How much of the street football you learnt in your childhood still around in German football these days?

I think I learned a bunch of things that have stuck with me, but I can't say precisely what. I can say that we went out to play everyday and learned all our skills. Maybe I owe my speed to those days, but I can't say for sure. I only know that the older kids picked me early on when we were dividing up teams. That of course gave me self-confidence.

Which Bundesliga team took you by surprise in 2014-15?

None of them were a total surprise. Bayern Munich were way out ahead, but they do what they do very well. Wolfsburg were maybe a slight surprise, but before the season even started you could see they had lots of quality. I think they played really well as well. Gladbach came in third because they played a good season and have a good team. So I don't think any of them came as a complete surprise.

This interview can be seen on DW's Bundesliga Kick Off! program, broadcast on Monday and Tuesday at the following times.

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