Munich - It has pretty much been the perfect weekend for Mario Mandzukic. After scoring the opener in FC Bayern München’s 2-1 win over Bayer 04 Leverkusen, the 27-year-old was also voted as the Croatian Footballer of the Year for a second year running.
He was presented with the award at the Allianz Arena by a representative of Croatia’s biggest newspaper - Vecernji list - following the final whistle on Saturday evening, having edged out Real Madrid CF midfielder Luka Modric, who again finished as runner-up.
“It’s a great honour for me to win this award,” said a delighted Mandzukic to fcbayern.de. “I’m extremely proud and this is reward for all my hard work.” The former VfL Wolfsburg man’s mention of hard work was wholly apt, since that has become his defining feature since joining the record title-holders in the summer of 2012.
His tireless chasing of lost causes and willingness to do his part in defence has not only made him an indispensable member of the team but also become exemplary for the side's relentless desire for domination in the last 18 months. After finishing the 2011/12 season empty-handed, the Reds went on to win the quadruple last season and have opened up a 23-point lead in the Bundesliga in the current campaign.
Mandzukic has been a key contributor in their unstoppable rise to the top. Against Leverkusen he was on target to score his 17th goal of the season and take the club to potentially within one victory of lifting the title.
As rewarding as winning the Torjägerkanone would be, however, Mandzukic, as ever, is putting team success ahead of personal glory: “Becoming top scorer is a motivation for me, but the most important thing is that we win the championship.”