Hamburg - Something of a nomadic footballer, Costa Rican international Junior Diaz has made Rhineland-Palatinate his home since signing for Thomas Tuchel’s 1. FSV Mainz 05 in the summer.
The experienced defender has made a very promising start to his Bundesliga career, commanding a first team place and delivering some solid displays, the most recent of which came in Matchday 12’s narrow defeat away at Hamburger SV. Although the result was a negative one for the 29-year-old left-back, it hasn’t dampened his enjoyment of his still fledgling Bundesliga career, as he revealed to bundesliga.com in the Imtech Arena.
bundesliga.com: Junior Diaz, did Mainz deserve to lose against Hamburg?
Junior Diaz: HSV had a great chance to score and they took it - that was the difference. We were really good in the first half and tried to repeat that performance in the second half. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the net; they managed it.
bundesliga.com: Your coach Tuchel was his typically vocal self, shouting instructions to you from the touchline. He really is a character…
Diaz: Yes, absolutely. He’s always trying to get the most out of us. And sometimes he has to shout a bit a louder to do that!
bundesliga.com: It’s another defeat away from home for Mainz. Why is there such a difference between the team’s results home and away?
Diaz: It’s not like we’re playing badly away from home. We still try to play our natural game, but we’re just not taking our chances. In fact it’s the opposite, and we’re falling behind in games. Then it’s always more difficult to pick up points.
bundesliga.com: Are you satisfied with the tally so far?
Diaz: Yes and no. We’re in a good position in the table, no question. But we’re professional players and want the maximum we can get, and that means being higher up the league. In that sense, we could have picked up a few more points along the way.
bundesliga.com: Your next opponents are champions Borussia Dortmund, which won’t be an easy task by any stretch of the imagination.
Diaz: There are no easy games in the Bundesliga, so it doesn’t matter what team you play against. That’s how we approach every game. We just have to analyse the 1-0 against Hamburg, take whatever positives we can from the performance and then eradicate our mistakes.
bundesliga.com: How have you enjoyed your first months playing in Germany?
Diaz: I’m very pleased with how things have gone for me here so far. I really feel at home in Mainz and I’m grateful to be able to play in one of the best leagues in the world. I’m learning new things every day as well, in training and in matches.
bundesliga.com: You have also played in Poland and Belgium. What impressions do you have of football here in Germany?
Diaz: The football here is so dynamic - that’s the biggest difference. Everything is so much quicker and a higher standard. My goal is to be able to play in Germany for a long time to come.
Interviewed by Michael Reis