Joelinton has stormed his way into the Hoffenheim team this season, and now wants to begin creating his Bundesliga legacy. - © DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA
Joelinton has stormed his way into the Hoffenheim team this season, and now wants to begin creating his Bundesliga legacy. - © DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA
bundesliga

Hoffenheim striker Joelinton: "I want to be like Robert Lewandowski"

Joelinton will get the opportunity to continue his Bundesliga learning curve by watching Robert Lewandowski at close quarters when the Hoffenheim forward faces Bayern Munich's goalgetting king in Friday's Rückrunde opener.

The 22-year-old Brazilian striker has already grown in his first top-flight campaign in Germany, but he told bundesliga.com he still has room for improvement, and hopes to join the likes of former Hoffenheim man Roberto Firmino in the Brazil side.

bundesliga.com: Joelinton, how much are you looking forward to the Rückrunde opener against Bayern Munich?

Joelinton: I'm really looking forward to it. The first half of the season is over, now we're starting up again and we're highly motivated. Bayern are a great team with super players, and you have to be 100 per cent focused. The first game of the Rückunde is very important, you have to be ready and give your best.

bundesliga.com: You featured in 16 of the 17 matches in the first half of the season. Who were your strongest opponents?

Joelinton: I have to say it was difficult against Bayern. Perhaps also because it was my first start. Things have gone better for me since then. You accumulate experience and self-confidence with every game. Now I'm looking forward to facing Bayern again. I hope to perform better and that we'll take three points.

Joelinton made his first Bundesliga start on the opening game of the 2018/19 season, against Bayern Munich. - DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga

bundesliga.com: You were 18 when you first came to Hoffenheim. You went to Rapid Vienna for two years, and then returned to Hoffenheim last summer; Would you say you have improved over the last six months?

Joelinton: Yes, I'm better with the ball and also in my defensive work for the team. I've learned a lot from Julian Nagelsmann in six months, he talks a lot to me. The standard of the league is better than in Austria and the team is very good. It's only natural that you improve.

bundelsiga.com: Is Julian Nagelsmann the kind of boss you need?

Joelinton: Yes, he's a super coach, very intelligent. He gave me a chance to play here, he's very important for me, but the team has helped me too.

bundesliga.com: You still have room for improvement in your game. What will you be looking to work on? Was playing games every three days a strain on you?

Joelinton: Heading is one of my weak points. But with us being out of the Champions League and the DFB Cup, we have more time to train and I can improve my heading. It was really great to play in the Champions League. At the end of the Hinrunde, I was quite tired, I could feel the effort I'd put in. But overall, the last six months have been very good.

Julian Nagelsmann will leave his coaching role at Hoffenheim to join RB Leipzig as head coach ahead of the 2019/2020 season. - Getty Images

bundesliga.com: What are your aims for the Rückrunde?

Joelinton: I want to score more goals in order to help my team. Our aim is to play in the Champions League again. To do that, everyone must give their best in every training session and in every game.

bundesliga.com: Is your big dream to make the jump to the Brazil national team?

Joelinton: Yes, it is now. First of all, I wanted to become a top player, and I've shown I can do that. Now it's time when I have to be consistent and play to my best if I want to play for the national team. To do that, I have to work hard at Hoffenheim and then perhaps a call-up for the national team will come. I have played in the Champions League now. I play in one of the best leagues in the world with very good players and I have a super coach. When I do things well, why wouldn't it happen for me? In Brazil, there's not a real Number 9 right now.

bundesliga.com: There aren't a lot of classic 9s in Germany either. The best centre-forward in the league might be a Pole, Robert Lewandowski, and he plays for your next opponents. Do you try to watch and learn from him?

Joelinton: Yes, of course. Every season, he scores lots of goals and has done so for years. He's a world-class player.

Robert Lewandowski has become an inspiration for many during his record-breaking time in the Bundesliga. - DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga GmbH/Getty Images/Sebastian Widmann

bundesliga.com: And you want to get there…

Joelinton: Yes, why not? I'm ready. I'll do everything to do that, to get into the national team and become a great player.

bundesliga.com: And what's your prediction against Bayern on Friday?

Joelinton: [laughs] I think it'll be 1-0 to us.

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