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.
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.
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.