Claudio Pizarro returned to Werder Bremen at the beginning of this season. Together with Ailton he brought latino flair to the CLub in the north of Germany.
Bremen's prodigal son is back! Claudio Pizarro started his Bundesliga career here in 1999 and returned this season having made it big time. Now everyone in Bremen is hoping the Peruvian international back for good.
Kickoff! took time to speak to him in his mother tongue, Spanish.
In Bremen they welcomed you with open arms as a returning star. Are you treated differently here, in comparison to at Bayern or Chelsea?
Generally I've been well received wherever I've gone. But this time it did surprise me a bit. When I came here in 1999, I was very young. In those two years I didn't realise how much the people liked me here. And then this reception, this affection they showed for me. That's very important for me as a player.
In 1999 the youngster came to Bremen, direct from Lima, and had immediate success with the northern German club.
Paired with the Brazilian Ailton, Pizarro posed a constant danger up front.
In 2001 Pizarro moved to Bayern Munich. His grew his hair longer but the success remained. Pizarro scored goal after goal after goal.
And in his six years at Bayern, he picked up plenty of titles too of course.
Why did you leave Bayern?
I had a really great time at Bayern Munich. I had a good relationship with the club. But I left because I couldn't reach agreement with management. My contract had come to an end. That's all.
What did you want from Bayern?
I tried to reach a financial agreement with them but it didn't work. Then there were other things which were personal which I don't want to talk about.
There was some criticism of you that you didn't show enough ambition, that you took things too easy.
No way! Absolutely not! But I am a latino and for Germans that is sometimes hard to understand. I'm a bit of a rascal - and I won't ever lose that.
In the end, the rascal Claudio was surplus to Bayern's needs. That cheeky trait can be a rare thing in the Bundesliga.
Not everyone here lacks the instinct - but most of them do. A German player is very organised. He's very unlikely to take the long way round to achieve his aim. A Latino is more flexible in such matters - and that's what I mean by being a rascal! +++
Is the Latin American influence good for German football?
There's no doubt about it! I would never want to criticise German football, the statistics and the results speak for themselves. German football has always been at the top. Latin America or Peru were never at that level. But that's why the mix is so important. Not everyone has it here. One or two players have to be a bit of a rascal in my opinion. +++
Good, let's move on to your time at Chelsea. It was the worst year of your professional career - was there too much pressure?
No, definitely not. It was just another experience for me. Jose Mourinho, rang me up and said he wanted me in his team. So I went. Then, unfortunately, three months later he left the club.
You've played alongside stars like Ailton, Effenberg, Elber, Ze Roberto, Ballack, Makaay and Drogba. Where did it work best?
One of my best years was with Ailton in Bremen. It was amazing how we understood each other.
Maybe because Ailton is quite a rascal, too, perhaps?
With your return to Bremen, your career came full circle. Today, like back in 1999, Thomas Schaaf is coach and Klaus Allofs is the commercial manager.
That's why I decided to come back here. I knew Klaus, I knew Thomas. I know them and they know me. That played a very important role in my return.
And it's like he never went away. With seven goals to his name, he's the team's best striker. At the ripe of age of 30, Claudio is reaching his peak. Time to take on a leadership role?
Are you a leader on the pitch?
I think so. With my experience and my skills I think I am a leader in the team. +++
What characteristics should a leader have?
He should show his skill on the pitch - every time he runs out. He should serve the team. Steer the team, but also support it. He has his own point of view. The team must get the feeling that he is on their side.
Can you name any examples of such a player?
A player with leadership qualities? John Terry. He's 27, or maybe 28. At any rate he can lead his team well. He's at home in the role of captain. And he pushes his team forward.
You are now at Bremen, but your contract with Chelsea runs til 2011. Can you imagine staying here longer?
It's s a possibility - of course. I won't rule anything out. It's too early to say what I will do. But staying at Bremen is possible.
Would winning the league influence your decision?
Perhaps. I think that could play a role.
Many thanks for the interview.