After scoring eight goals and assisted six more in 2020/21, Freiburg forward Roland Sallai is looking to do even more in 2021/22 and he has made the perfect start with a goal and an assist in the opening three matches of the campaign.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, Hungary international Sallai discusses his start to the new season and his goals for the rest of the year, why he fights perfectly to Freiburg and his goals to play at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar with Hungary.
bundesliga.com: Which moment was more significant for you - your Freiburg debut in 2018 with a goal and an assist, or the winning goal against Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 2 of this season?
Roland Sallai: "That's difficult to answer because both goals were important for me. The goal against Wolfsburg was good because I came here as a new player and I had to show who I am, which I was able to do. The goal against Dortmund was an important goal because we were able to win the game against them."
Watch: Freiburg's big win over Dortmund on Matchday 2!
bundesliga.com: You beat Dortmund at home in February and once again recently. How can you explain your recent run of good results against BVB?
Sallai: "I think every team knows that if they come here to this stadium, it's difficult to win against us. I think we were able to win twice against Dortmund because we've grown up a lot in these few years. We're a real team and we fight for each other and for the city and for the fans. I think this is why we're so strong here with the fans."
Sallai: "We would like to keep the same feeling when someone is coming to play against us. The fans will definitely help with this but, of course, we still have to fight like we do here and we have to show our quality on the pitch game by game."
bundesliga.com: How important were the fans in the brilliant win against Dortmund?
Sallai: "They were the 12th player and they helped a lot. We didn't see them for a year and the atmosphere was amazing and they really helped a lot. It's bad that only half of the stadium could be used, but we hope to see all the fans soon so that we can play in front of the full stadium."
bundesliga.com: Your uncle Sandor Sallai played for Hungary at two World Cups - 1982 and 1986. When are you going to play at a World Cup?
Sallai: "I hope that I'll play next year in Qatar. We have a good national team now and we would, of course, like to be there. We know that it's going to be difficult because we have strong teams in the group, but everyone saw what we did in the European Championships. We want to continue on this path and we will always give our best. I know that we have quality in the team and we can do it, but it will be difficult."
bundesliga.com: Did your uncle teach you a lot?
Sallai: "When I was a small child and I played in the academy, he watched my games every week and we talked a lot after the games. Sometimes I didn't like it when I had a bad game and he gave me a lot of criticism after the game. I didn't like it, but I learned a lot from this and I always say that we can learn just from the negative things. Of course, people don't like to hear these things, but we can always go one step forward from these things."
bundesliga.com: How was it for you to play against Germany in the Euros? Did you speak German to the players on the pitch?
Sallai: "I concentrated on myself and on my teammates. I'm not a player who talks too much and I prefer to show my quality. I talked a little bit with some players after the game and with my teammates here in Freiburg. Christian Günter came into our dressing room and we spoke a little bit about the teams and the European Championships. It was nice to see my teammate on the opposition team and it was good to be there."
Sallai: "It's difficult because my name and his name are pronounced differently in Germany and in Hungary. I'm good with him and we have a good relationship. We talk quite a lot, maybe each week or every other week, and we're also important in the national team. This is why we're close and we like to help each other. I think it's a good relationship between him and me and we would like to keep it that way. We're happy to meet up with each other."
bundesliga.com: You joined Freiburg from APOEL Nicosia back in 2018. Why did you choose to play in the Bundesliga?
Sallai: "I had the chance and everyone knows that the Bundesliga is one of the biggest leagues in Europe and also in the world. I wanted to show my quality in a bigger league and I'm happy that I could do it. I don't want to stop because I have to show my quality and my performances each week, which is why I work a lot."
bundesliga.com: What are Freiburg's aims this season?
Sallai: "We always say before the season that we'd like to stay in the Bundesliga, but I think we have to dream a little bit bigger because we have a really good team and we show this week by week. I would say that we're a good mid-table team in the Bundesliga at the moment, but maybe we can go higher and higher. To achieve that, we have to learn and develop and we have to work really hard every day."
Watch: Sallai's brace at Schalke last season
bundesliga.com: What's your favourite goal that you have scored so far in the Bundesliga?
Sallai: "I always want to score more and more goals and it's difficult to pick out one. All of them are nice and that's why I work a lot so that I can help my team. It's an indescribable feeling when you score or make assists, but it's amazing and I want to get this feeling many times this season. I want to have a similar season to last year or maybe even better because it was my best season at Freiburg and in the Bundesliga. I scored two goals against Schalke and both of them were nice. The goal against Frankfurt was also nice, but I can't pick out my best goal because all of them were nice and I was happy to score these 13 goals."
bundesliga.com: Why are Roland Sallai and Freiburg a perfect match?
Sallai: "First of all, I think I'm a good guy and this is one of the most important things as a Freiburg player. You cannot be arrogant or destroy the team, and I'm not a player who does this. I fight for this club and I also have many skills to help the team, but I think the most important thing is to be a nice and good guy because this team is like a family team."
bundesliga.com: What are your personal sporting aims?
Sallai: "I want to play at the top level with the top teams, but I'm also happy to be here and help. I think each player has a target in his career and I have to go step by step. At the moment, Freiburg is the perfect team for me to grow."