Andrej Kramaric has plenty to look back on, and plenty to look forward to with Hoffenheim. - © imago images
Andrej Kramaric has plenty to look back on, and plenty to look forward to with Hoffenheim. - © imago images
bundesliga

Andrej Kramaric on reaching Hoffenheim via Rijeka ahead of Borussia Dortmund test

Whether he is scoring or setting up goals, Hoffenheim forward Andrej Kramaric is just happy to be able to help his team, as he reflects on his career to date and looks ahead to facing Borussia Dortmund.

bundesliga.com spoke with the Hoffenheim forward about his path to the Bundesliga, and where he hopes it will take him next. This is what Kramaric had to say...

On his season opener with 3 assists against Augsburg...

Kramaric: "Well, of course I'm happy to have started the season off well. It's a new style. Andrej Kramaric is usually about scoring goals but I'm very happy that I provided three assists. It means a lot for me and for the team. In the end, it does not matter who scores the goals. It is important that we won the match. Luckily, I had the opportunity to help with these three goals; important goals. I'm also happy with three assists."

Watch: Kramaric happy to be "Mr Assist"

On the next match against Borussia Dortmund. An absolute favourite opponent of Kramaric with 4 goals in the penultimate encounter in Dortmund...

Kramaric: "Of course it's nice to play against Dortmund. I have to say and to be honest, I watched them the last two games. Especially against Bayern Munich in the Super Cup. They played very well. I think at the beginning of the season, they are ready. They look ready. Everybody is motivated with good energy on the field. It is not going to be easy. Again, we are going to need to be at 110% on the pitch if we want to take points there in Dortmund. Of course, if we will be motivated. In the past, there were some nice games and a lot of goals against Dortmund. I respect that club a lot and I hope I can continue this way for Hoffenheim against Dortmund."

On the return of the fans...

Kramaric: "Of course, it's very important for us and the whole Bundesliga to have fans in the stadium. It means a lot because the atmosphere's really nice. It gives us all good feelings. I have to say thank you to all the fans that came to Augsburg and also for the next match. It is the beauty of football. We need them. There is a reason we play football: to enjoy it with the fans. Like I said, fans are one of the most important things in football."

Watch: Andrej Kramaric's Bundesliga mixtape

On a song which was dedicated to him in his hometown in Croatia, Bednja...

Kramaric: "Yes, it's an amazing feeling. That's the reason why you train and prepare yourself. Also, to make great moments in games in which you can feel and hear the fans. In that moment, sometimes you have goosebumps. I hope this season will have multiple such moments. I know him (song being played in the background). He's my uncle’s godfather so he's almost like family. Not directly family but, like I said, it's a small village. Everybody knows each other there. This song is about me. It was after the World Cup in Russia when we had that amazing achievement and, to be honest, yes, I think 99% of the Croatian people would not understand the words! That's the reason why I'm laughing. It's a very nice song. It has a special meaning because when you are born, you are a part of the village or a small part of Croatia where they have something special. It's really something special. Yes, I have to be honest, I am not talking the right language, the way they talk there – like my grandmothers but I can understand almost everything."

On how his life in this area shaped his youth?

Kramaric: “Yes, of course. When I was a kid – I was born in 1991 – and that year, the war started that year against Serbia. To be honest, I stayed in this small village with my family: my mother and grandparents. My father, he needed to work and to go to war so for the first five or six years, I was there with the family and then after, when the war ended, I went back to Zagreb to go to school."

As a super talent, he was sent to Rijeka in his youth, which was a crucial moment in his career...

Kramaric: "Yes, I have really nice memories from Rijeka because it was a really amazing part of my life and my career. Every time I go back there, I look forward to it. To see the people and the fans. It was one of the most important parts of my footballing career because afterwards I went to Leicester City and afterwards to Hoffenheim but that was the most or the biggest step in terms of moving out of Croatia because if you want to succeed and become something bigger in football, you have to leave Croatia. Now everything is fine but it was unfortunate that I didn’t have the opportunity to show what I was showing 15 years as a young kid for Dinamo Zagreb. I was the best striker in the history of the academy; everything was ready for me to play for Dinamo. Unluckily, there were some moments or details why I didn’t in the end. That was the reason I left Dinamo and I went to Rijeka."

Andrej Kramaric's career started to take flight with Rijeka, where he also gained his first UEFA Europa League experience before moving to Leicester City and then to Hoffenheim. - EuroFootball/Getty Images

He made his village world famous with a flag in the World Cup semi-finals with the inscription Bednja...

Kramaric: "Yes, of course you are happy when you can show your flag and your name for your village in the semi-final of the World Cup and to be presented, or to play in the final of the World Cup in Russia. It is a special moment. You have to be proud of where you come from. You have to remember where you came from, from the beginning until the end of your life."