Piero Hincapie has enjoyed an impressive start to his Bayer Leverkusen career. bundesliga.com caught up with the Ecuadorian as his country looks to secure 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification…
After signing from Argentinian side Talleres in the summer, the 20-year-old scored his first goal for Leverkusen in their UEFA Europa League victory over Celtic in September and his first Bundesliga strike in his team's 7-1 victory over Greuther Fürth. Capped 12 times by Ecuador, the defender details his World Cup ambitions and his adaptation to German life.
bundesliga.com: Piero Hincapie, what was your first impression of German football?
Piero Hincapie: “It’s very quick football. It was a tough change for me at the start when the first training session was very quick – and the matches even more so. When I was winning 4-0 in South America, I’d just start to keep the ball. Here at 4-0, you’ve got to keep attacking, attacking, attacking. It was something I found hard but thankfully I’m adapting to it.”
bundesliga.com: How would you describe your time so far at Leverkusen?
Hincapie: “I feel very comfortable, they welcomed me in the best way from the moment I arrived at a marvellous club. I always tell them the facilities they have aren’t the same as a club in South America. A club in Europe has all the facilities and amenities to perform better.”
bundesliga.com: Is it better for you to be at a club with some Spanish speakers?
Hincapie: “They’ve helped me a lot. Some of [the others] try to speak Spanish. When one of them turns up they say ‘hola hola’. I think it’s been a good foundation so I can withstand everything because a change of language isn’t easy on top of the play. They just say ‘¿cómo estás?’ and then all speak German. Bit by bit and with time and training I’m getting used to it all and understanding my teammates a bit more.”
bundesliga.com: Exequiel Palacios claims you are addicted to mate. Is this true?
Hincapie: “Yes, yes, I drink a bit of mate. I sometimes make some when I’m cold at home, have it with a biscuit.”
bundesliga.com: How did it feel to score your first goals for Leverkusen?
Hincapie: “I’ll always remember it because it was my first goal in the Bundesliga. The other was against Celtic, which was the first goal of my career here. It was a unique moment that will always stay with me. It’s unforgettable.”
Watch: Hincapie's goal in the win over Fürth
bundesliga.com: Have you had any trouble defending against certain Bundesliga players?
Hincapie: “There’s no forward who really impresses me because I don’t like them getting past me. I get angry and criticise myself. I watch my games and criticise the things I do badly and the things I do well. I don’t let any forward get past me because that’s how I am and how I think in games.”
bundesliga.com: Ecuador are close to qualifying for the World Cup after missing out in 2018. How important is this for you?
Hincapie: “I think everyone's focused on us qualifying for the World Cup. I think it’s a very nice challenge and I’ll take it in the best way. Some people say we’re on the verge of the World Cup, almost there. I don’t think like that. I think we’ve still got to qualify and we’ve still got four matches to go for that, which are the hardest.
"We've got games against Brazil and Peru, and we have to win them. Nobody knows yet if we’re going to qualify. They’re very hard opponents and South American qualifiers are so hard. You never know what’s going to happen.”
How Leverkusen keep getting transfers and development right
bundesliga.com lifts the lid on how Leverkusen stay ahead of the curve when it comes to developing generational talents such as Florian Wirtz.
Official Bundesliga transfer centre: Summer 2022
All the official ins and outs at your favourite Bundesliga club...
The Bundesliga's all-time top scorers
Robert Lewandowski is now in second place, but who else features in the Bundesliga's all-time top 10 goalscorers?