Andrej Kramaric says he has no regrets about missing out on one of football's greatest fairy tales as he followed his heart to Hoffenheim.
Croatian forward Kramaric moved to Sinsheim from Leicester City midway through the 2015/16 season. That year, Leicester completed one of the greatest shocks in football by winning the English Premier League title, but Kramaric was and still is happy helping Hoffenheim write history of their own in the Bundesliga.
"It's always important to believe in yourself. That's what I did. I missed out on that special championship, but on the other hand, I was becoming an increasingly important part of this Hoffenheim team," he told Soccer Laduma. "I don't regret anything. I'm proud of what I've achieved here: I played in the Champions League, the World Cup and, most importantly, I feel very comfortable with what I am doing."
Watch: all of Kramaric's 2017/18 goals and assists
Kramaric still got to savour Champions League football in Sinsheim this season, and he has developed a taste for more European football. Hoffenheim drew with Stuttgart on Saturday to reduce the gap to sixth-placed Bayer Leverkusen and a berth in the UEFA Europa League next season to four points – a gap Kramaric hopes they will be able to bridge between now and the end of the season.
"It's very disappointing to have lost so many points this season after having taken the lead. But still, we want to qualify for European competition again," he said. "And, of course, I have my sights set on some more things."
One of those ambitions is to become Hoffenheim's all-time leading goalscorer. He needs just 13 more to level Sejad Salihovic's overall tally of 67, having levelled Vedad Ibisevic's return of 54 for the club and equalled Salihovic's Bundesliga haul of 46 on Matchday 26.
"I vividly remember my first goal – it happened away in Bremen and it was a very emotional and special moment for me to score in the Bundesliga," Kramaric said. "It really was the start of my amazing story at Hoffenheim."
"I'm proud of being one of just 10 players who have reached more than 100 Bundesliga appearances for this club in its short history," he said. "I know all about Salihovic's special mark – and, of course, I want to become the best scorer in TSG history!"
Watch: Kramaric on levelling Salihovic's Bundesliga goal tally for Hoffenheim
It was coach Julian Nagelsmann who gave him his big break in Hoffenheim, with Kramaric's goal earning them a 1-1 draw against Bremen in the now 31-year-old coach's first game in charge. Nagelsmann will move to Bundesliga rivals RB Leipzig in the summer and Kramaric admits he will miss him.
"Julian is different compared to all the other coaches I've worked with so far in my career," Kramaric said. "He has a special philosophy, in which details matter a lot. He makes everyone a better player. And I appreciate that he is also a very nice person."
"Of course, I will miss him, and I will always be grateful for what he has done. To me, Julian is already one of the best coaches in the world."
Guirassy, Kane, Boniface lead the way
Harry Kane's record-breaking goal-fest at Bayern, Serhou Guirassy soaring at Stuttgart and Victor Boniface's Bayer brace are among bundesliga.com's 5 takeaway moments from Matchday 5.
The Bundesliga-based Croatians who finished third at the World Cup
Josko Gvardiol, Andrej Kramaric, Borna Sosa, Josip Stansic and Kristijan Jakic have won 2022 World Cup bronze.
Andrej Kramaric: 10 things
From emulating Davor Suker to playing in the World Cup final - get to know the man who has over a century of goals for Hoffenheim...