Werder Bremen striker Claudio Pizarro made Bundesliga history last weekend when he became league's most prolific foreigner. That he made so little fuss about it sums up a striker who has quietly gone about his business.
Pizarro is the Bundesliga's highest scoring foreigner
As befitting a man who shies away from the kind of spotlights that follow soccer stars in this day and age, Pizarro celebrated the fact that he had become the highest-scoring foreign player in the Bundesliga's history last weekend in low-key fashion. The Peruvian international didn’t throw a party or release 134 white doves over the Weserstadion, he commemorated the record by sitting down with his kids on the couch to watch a DVD of every one of his record-breaking 134 goals.
"They cheered for each goal all over again," the 32-year-old striker told reporters after he went back to work. And so they should. Their dad had just eclipsed one of the Bundesliga's towering attacking icons, Giovane Elber - the Brazilian forward who made his name during his nine-year stint at Stuttgart and Bayern Munich.
Pizarro's 75th minute strike during Werder Bremen's 4-1 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach last Saturday echoed across the continents with fans in his home country waiting on the moment that the former Bayern and Chelsea striker wrote his name in the history books. "Even my friends in Peru had been waiting for this moment," Pizarro admitted. "They are proud and happy that I overtook Giovane Elber, as am I."
Two spells in Germany, one impressive record
Six years at Bayern brought Pizarro goals and silverware
The Peruvian's return to Bremen after a less-than-auspicious spell in London has seen the striker recapture the form which persuaded Werder to bring him to Germany in 1999 from Alianza Lima. He scored 29 goals in the two seasons which made up his first spell at the Northern German club before heading south for sixth seasons where he netted 71 goals for Bayern Munich, winning three Bundesliga titles, three German Cups and a League Cup in the process.
Free to leave after his contract expired at Bayern, Pizarro joined Chelsea in the summer of 2007, scoring on his Premier League debut. All signs pointed to a successful Premiership career.
But when the man who signed him for the English champions, Jose Mourinho, left the club, Pizarro fell out of favor. He was never going to dislodge Chelsea legend Didier Drogba in the Stamford Bridge pecking order, and as the season wore on Avram Grant preferred his own signing, Nicolas Anelka.
After just one season in London the Peruvian was loaned back to Werder Bremen for the 2008 season with just two Chelsea goals to his name - the other coming in an FA Cup match against Birmingham City.
In the Bremen fold, Peruvian finds the scoring groove again
Back in Germany with Werder, Pizarro was welcomed as a returning hero and he contributed 17 goals to the club's 2008/09 campaign, helping them to reach the Europa League final where they were beaten 2-1 by Shahktar Donetsk.
Bremen expect the Andean Bomber to keep on scoring
Pizarro's official transfer back to Bremen was agreed the following season and he scored a further 16 goals for the club, adding another DFB Cup winners medal to his collection as Werder beat Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 in the final.
His record-breaking goal last weekend was only his first strike of a season which has seen him slowly return to fitness after a long-term injury, but he followed that up with a goal in Bremen's DFB Cup second round defeat to Bayern Munich in mid-week.
Despite having had a tough time with injuries since the end of last season, Pizarro is still regarded as an integral part of the Werder Bremen squad and - as his record proves - can be relied upon to get goals when charged with the responsibility. Something his coach appreciates highly.
"He's an outstanding player with fantastic skills. It was only a matter of time before he scored again," said Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf after Pizarro's historic strike saw him pass the 133 mark he set back in May.
"I hope he plays for a long time here. He'll score many more goals. That's his job."
One has he has done with minimum fuss and maximum impact.
Author: Nick Amies
Editor: Matt Hermann