Lukas Podolski: A Cologne and Germany icon, and now part of the Bundesliga Legends Network. - © Getty Images
Lukas Podolski: A Cologne and Germany icon, and now part of the Bundesliga Legends Network. - © Getty Images

Lukas Podolski on the Bundesliga, his World Cup favourites and Cologne's 'crazy' coach


Not long after being named the newest member of the Bundesliga Legends Network, Lukas Podolski sat down to field several questions from the world's media. chooses a selection of answers from the Germany and Cologne legend, the man known affectionately as 'Poldi'.

Q. What does it mean to you to be a Bundesliga legend?

Lukas Podolski: "It means a lot to be among all those other names and to represent the Bundesliga now and in the future. Of course, it feels good. To be with all of the other legends who are there and represent the Bundesliga, it's a fantastic honour. I am proud because, when you look at the names there, and there are not a lot, it's an especially great honour."

Q. What is your fondest memory from your Bundesliga career?

Podolski: "It's difficult to choose one because there are a few. I'm a boy from Cologne - I grew up there in the academy and I became a professional footballer there. So I would say the special moments were in Cologne, but it's difficult to choose one.

"You always have the first game then the first goal as special moments and there were also a couple of other goals [I especially remember]. I recall when the new stadium was opened for the first time in Cologne, in time for the [2006] World Cup. It was around 2004 or 2005. We played at home and the stadium was open for the first time. We had a match against Gladbach; it's the biggest derby. I scored the winning goal, it was 1-0, and we got the the three points. That was a special moment for me."

Q. What makes the Bundesliga so unique?

Podolski: "With the Bundesliga, there is not just one subject you can focus on; when you start from the organisation and then look at the stadiums and the fans. Even if you look at the second or third division, nearly every game is sold out.

"Everything around the stadiums with families attending... as a general subject everyone likes to watch the Bundesliga and to visit the games. Sometimes you say that English football is the best, but I speak in general and the Bundesliga is one of the best [leagues]; everyone wants to be like the Bundesliga and wants to copy German clubs. When you look at Bayern Munich or Dortmund or even smaller teams, when you look at the organisation, the stadiums, the fans and everything there are not a lot of other leagues who can't compare themselves to the Bundesliga.

"I played in many countries and everyone speaks well about the Bundesliga, everyone wants to play there. That's why I think that - with everything in general taken into account - the Bundesliga is the best league."

Podolski (l.) and Franck Ribery talk tactics at Bayern Munich in 2009. - imago sportfotodienst/imago sportfotodienst

Q. What has been the hardest moment of your career?

Podolski: "I don't have any hard moments. I dreamed of becoming a footballer from almost the moment I was born and I enjoyed every moment [of my career]. Of course there are difficult moments when you lose a couple of games - but that's sport, you have to deal with that.

"But, in general, I would be stupid if I was to say I wasn't happy with my career. I played in a lot of countries, I played for Germany, I [started] on the streets in Poland where I am playing now. And now I am a Bundesliga legend and I'm still playing.

"I have [over] 130 caps, I played in a lot of countries so I would say that there were not a lot of difficult moments in my career. I would do it exactly the same way of I had to start over."

Watch: Lukas Podolski's top 5 Bundesliga goals

Q. Who could be the frontrunners for the 2022 FIFA World Cup?

Podolski: "There are a lot of countries among the favourites. I hope, of course, Germany can do it again but I think it will be difficult because I think they are not 100 percent ready. But let's see, maybe with some luck we can get it. From the rest, France or England or Belgium are always the teams you look at. And of course the other teams from South America, who looked strong in qualification, like Brazil and Argentina.

"But let's see; a World Cup is always interesting to watch. You can choose a favourite before, but it's difficult [to win]. You also have to be a little bit lucky with the draw or with a couple of situations in the games. Of course I will support my team from Germany and I hope they will play a good tournament, unlike the last one when we went out in the group stage."

Podolski scored 49 goals in 139 senior internationals, and won the 2014 FIFA World Cup. - Imago

Q. What is it about Cologne and the general fanbase that makes the Bundesliga what it is?

Podolski: "It doesn't matter the team, nearly every game is sold out. It's about the football, it's about the fans. Even when you see the away fans, like Eintracht Frankfurt, for example, and how they travelled to Barcelona a couple of weeks ago and how they behaved and everything. Every other league would be proud to have fans like that.

"Even when you watch the Spanish league or the French league or the Italian league, when you look at the games the stadiums are not full, the stadiums are not like they are in Germany. This is what I mean when I say that in general, the Bundesliga, in terms of the organisation, the fanbases, the stadiums, they look fantastic. The atmosphere is great. This is what the Bundesliga is all about. This is what other leagues don't have. When you take everything into consideration, I think the Bundesliga is one of the top leagues."

Podolski is hoping former club Cologne can finish this season on a high. - Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts/Getty Images

Q. Can Cologne qualify for Europe this season? 

Podolski: "Let's see in these last [three] games. I hope so as I am a boy from Cologne and let's hope they can do it for the club, for the fans and also for the money they would get for qualifying for Europe, which is good for a club like Cologne.

"I hope they will do it, but it will not be easy because the other clubs are very close to each other. There are also difficult games coming against teams who are playing to avoid relegation. Let's see and let's hope.

"Anyway, they have had a great season so far and with the new crazy coach [Steffen Baumgart], the guy who brings the players and the club to a different level. Let's see where they finish in two or three more weeks."