Over at TalkSoccer.Net, ScaryJeff was nice enough to translate an article in which Lukas Podolski gave an interview. It was featured in ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’. I for one can't get enough of young Mr. Podolski so I thought I'd share the interview with you. It's great to see that, with his career challenge ahead of him, Lukas still has that cheeky sense of humor and a positive outlook on his place at Bayern. Also, I'm looking forward to seeing what else Podolski and Ribéry have planned for one another.
Question: Mister Podolski, this is maybe an obvious question, but are you happy to be nominated for the national team again?
Podolski: Of course, I am happy. I was away for 4 months after all. So I obviously was very happy that coach Löw called me before our game in Zurich, to ask if I feel fit enough to play. I said yes, and here I am!
Question: Were you surprised to be nominated after such a long break?
Podolski: Not surprised. I think I am an important part of this team. But of course it was a pleasant thing for me. This shows that the coach believes in me. I would have understood if he said ‘let’s wait’, but I’m glad he didn’t.
Question: Confidence is very important. At Bayern you just lost your biggest fan - Mehmet Scholl has retired some days ago. Do you miss him?
Podolski: It is a pity that Scholli is gone. He is a great person. But we see each other off the pitch and we also phone regularly. Of course we miss him at Bayern - but every career has to end sometime.
Question: Did you learn something from him to succeed at Bayern Munich? No one has more experience in that regard than he has.
Podolski: He told me a lot. Espescially how it was also hard for him in his first season and how he thought about leaving again. That Uli Hoeness convinced him to stay and that he has learned to fight for his place. The rest is history…
Question: Did you watch him while you were still at Köln?
Podolski: He was fixture at Bayern. A lot of success in the recent years is also because of him. I was lucky to learn from him this one year. We also had a lot of fun offside the training grounds. I’m happy we became such good friends.
Question: What tips did he give you during the first year?
Podolski: Of course, he told me how it was for him. But help? I want to learn that all myself and earn my own merits. I don’t want to just hear it from someone but experience it for myself. Besides we are a different kind of player. I play striker after all and he is an offensive midfielder. He can’t tell me after all “you have to shoot your freekicks like this and that!” For once no one can copy how Mehmet made his freekicks, and secondly freekicks are not my job at Bayern.
Question: Do you feel at home at Bayern now?
Podolski: No need to talk about the first year anymore. We were on a bad run and you saw it in the whole team not just with me. And it’s twice as hard as a new player then. No team in the Bundesliga is as hard as Bayern. You have to fight every day there for your spot. Now I feel a lot better here, espescially after I’m cured from my past injury. All has got a little bit easier. And now we have a team that can win all 3 titles this year - I am proud to be a part of that. Cause everybody rejoyces when Bayern doesn’t win the title. That makes it twice as nice if you can show the title at the end of the season.
Question: You say all got easier for you. But last year you were 2nd striker beside Makaay. Now you seem to be 3rd after Klose and Toni.
Podolski: I was injured during the complete pre-season. So I had no chance to prove myself and influence things. Now I can fight for the spot and my aim is of course to play. Otherwise I’d have to say ‘I'll sit on the bench now or play for another team’. My goal is to play. One thing is certain though: There will always be discussion on who has to play. It is important that we are successfull as a team. If we end up winning the title and the UEFA Cup in the end and I just made 20 games and 10 goals I’m happy.
Question: The new coach in Munich and the constant talks with Ottmar Hitzfeld were very helpfull for you, wasn’t it?
Podolski: That is a normal thing for me. It was like that in Köln with my coaches and in the national team with Rudi Völler, Jürgen Klinsmann and now Jogi Löw: that you talk with each other and try to solve things. The team is one big family and you try to work for each other to be successful. That’s how I see it. Good communication is a key.
Question: And unlike Magath, Hitzfeld actually does that?
Podolski: He also is interested in the daily life of a player. He asks how life is with your girl friend or your family. That is important to me. If you just train, train and train and you don’t get feedback from the coach you never know where you are. But that was last year and is history for me now.
Question: Did you also improve tactically under Hitzfeld?
Podolski: Of course. I just knew that from the national team before. There we trained a lot before the World Cup on the tactical side. Where you have to run and how to play with each other. At first that was hard for me but it helps to do the same things over and over until they are your second nature.
Question: People always wonder what’s the best position for you.
Podolski: I don’t see myself as a target man who waits up front to let the high balls drop to his team-mates. I’m more of a player who can come from the midfield with speed.
Question: In the current 4-2-3-1 system you’d like to be on the right offensive side behind the only striker?
Podolski: I’m convinced I can play that. We already did that at the national team where i played behind Miroslav Klose. I am a player who knows what to do with the ball and not just waits for his chance like Makaay did. I don’t like to just be up front and wait for the ball. That is not my game.
Question: Are you glad to play alongside Klose now?
Podolski: Of course. If you see our stats - we always played very well with each other. That works really well in the national team. That’s how things should go on.
Question: You sure get a lot of advice along the lines of ‘The second year at Bayern is the most important’. Isn’t that annoying?
Podolski: There are always people who like to give advice from the outside. That’s part of the game. By now I don’t care anymore. It’s important what the manager Hoeness and the coach say. And they are completly convinced I will make my way at Bayern.
Question: Here is a random quote from Lothar Matthäus, start of June: “Podolski and Schweinsteiger have to do more.” Really not important who says what?
Podolski: My coach is Ottmar Hitzfeld. If Matthäus, who doesn’t train a team, says something in a newspaper, then this is of no worth to me. He’s just throwing in some nonsense without any relevance.
Question: Klaus Fischer, a former Schalke legend, said after Klose got transferred to Munich: “Poldi won’t make a single game for Bayern.”
Podolski: Well, Sunday was my first match this season. Basta. Discussion over.
Question: Did you ever consider moving to Bremen in an exchange for Miro Klose?
Podolski: There were several clubs who showed interest, not just Bremen. Of course you think about it for a moment, but this was never an issue with me, to leave Bayern after just one year. I saw that I fit into this team, that we will field a great team this season - why should I give up and leave the team?
Question: Did Hoeness make any influence? Maybe invited you to his house in Tegernsee to go swimming?
Podolski: No, no, I have a lake (Tegernsee is a big lake near Munich) in front of my own door. That’s great. I jump in there almost every day after training. It is very quiet at my place. I feel better outside the city closer to nature. The people are also different there than in the big city.
Question: People said ‘Bayern is world class club, Poldi has to finally grow up’. What do you think about that?
Podolski: Well, what does grow up mean? If I want to have fun, I make fun. The same thing with Franck Ribéry. You have to be true to yourself, no matter if you look adult or still like a kid. I really don’t know what is so bad about that.
Question: With Franck Ribéry you have had a battle of playing tricks on each other. Is there peace now in the locker room, or do you still find your shoes glued together ?
Podolski: No. The battle will continue. When he’s back from the national team, then he’s in for a nasty surprise. We two have a lot of fun with each other. We got along instantly well and I’m looking forward to this season with him.