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Claudio Pizarro scored 197 Bundesliga goals and claimed six top-flight titles during an incredible career. - © DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga
Claudio Pizarro scored 197 Bundesliga goals and claimed six top-flight titles during an incredible career. - © DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga
60 years of Bundesliga

When Bundesliga legend Claudio Pizarro finally called it a day

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A Bundesliga legend quite like no other: the one and only Claudio Pizarro graced the hallowed turf in Germany for the final time in June 2020, hanging up his boots at the age of 41 and leaving a legacy in footballing longevity that won't soon be forgotten.

 Discover many more memorable moments and records in the Bundesliga's 60-year history!

Described in Germany as "the last of his kind," the Peruvian kitted out for Bayern Munich, Cologne and Werder Bremen, signing for the latter an incredible four times. 

His goals and celebrations still very much in the collective memory, bundesliga.com looks back at the striking giant's extraordinary career.

Click here to vote for the best strikers in Bundesliga history and win great prizes!

"He is one of the best strikers I've ever seen. I would have liked to have met him when he was 24, 25 or 26 years old. He's had a unique career." So said ex-Bayern coach Pep Guardiola of the former Peru international Pizarro. The Catalan tactician was at the Bayern helm between 2013 and 2016 and at one point had Pizarro on board as the squad's oldest player. Indeed, just prior to Guardiola's arrival in Munich, Pizarro was creating headlines at 34 when scoring four times and providing two assists in a 9-2 Bayern win against Hamburg

That was just one highlight from a career in which Pizarro played 490 games in the Bundesliga. The six-footer, known for his neat ball control and tidy finishing, scored 197 top-flight goals in Germany and places sixth on the Bundesliga's all-time top scorers list, behind just Gerd Müller, Robert Lewandowski, Klaus Fischer, Jupp Heynckes and Manfred Burgsmüller.

Watch: The best of Pizarro in the Bundesliga

Pizarro scored his first goal in the Bundesliga shortly after first signing for Bremen. On September 12, 1999, the striker netted the opener in the The Green-Whites' 5-0 victory over Kaiserslautern. Incredibly, he continued to score for 21 successive years after that, another Bundesliga record.

And records there were aplenty for the South American. He is the player to have been subbed off most times in the Bundesliga, while his 21 goals scored as a substitute is bettered only by Nils Petersen's 34. Pizarro is also the only player in Bundesliga history to score more than 80 goals for two clubs: 87 for Bayern and 109 for Werder - making him the River Islanders' all-time top scorer.

Claudio Pizarro made his debut for Werder Bremen in 1999. - imago

Pizarro's all-round ability soon led to him becoming known as a complete striker. The forward - who had a penchant for wearing the No. 14 and 24 jerseys during his career - was not what could be defined as an opportunistic striker, waiting for an opportunity to present itself inside the area. Instead, he offered himself in the spaces between midfield and the opposition box, actively influencing the game all over the pitch.

Thanks to his impressive technical ability, the Peruvian was able to manage games in tight spaces while winning himself time on the ball in the face of opposition pressure. He was also adept at coming out on top in one-v-one situations and often broke defensive lines with piercing through-balls. An expert in the art of assists, Pizarro laid on 84 goals for his teammates, but he was also an immensely versatile finisher himself and scored 48 goals with his head, 107 goals with his right foot and a further 39 with his left.

Watch: Pizarro becomes the Bundesliga's oldest goalscorer

In Werder's 4-1 victory against Borussia Mönchengladbach, the Peruvian scored his 134th Bundesliga goal with a left-footed shot and became the top non-German record goalscorer in the Bundesliga at the time. In doing so, he surpassed an old teammate. "I'm proud and happy that I overtook Giovane Elber; it means a lot to me and my family," Pizarro said. He later watched a DVD containing all 134 goals together with his children Antonella, Claudio and Gianluca: "They cheered every single goal," the striker beamed. 

That record has since been surpassed by goal machine Lewandowski and it was always going to take something - or someone - special to go beyond Pizarro's exploits.. 

Pizarro was crowned Bundesliga champion six times (all with Bayern) and also won the DFB Cup on six occasions (five with Bayern, once with Bremen). In 2012/13, he achieved the treble of Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Champions League with Bayern and became the first Peruvian to lift the European Cup.

The striker scored at least a double in a Bundesliga game 35 times and, in March 2016, he became the oldest scorer of a hat-trick in Bundesliga history when he hit a treble against Wolfsburg.

Pizarro and Werder celebrated Bundesliga survival in dramatic fashion in 2018. - Pressefoto Rudel/Robin Rudel/Poo/Pressefoto Rudel/gumzmedia/nordp

Despite the goal getter's career reading like a movie script, there were also some low moments he had to endure. In 2018, he was relegated from the Bundesliga with Cologne and then, while in his last season with Bremen, Die Grün-Weißen ended up having to take part in a relegation play-off. However, thanks to a 2-2 draw in the second leg of the sudden-death play-off against Heidenheim, Pizarro and his teammates were saved. 

And so, in 2020 a legend of the game ended a unique playing career at 41. For over 21 years, the Peruvian enchanted fans all over the world with his outstanding abilities and brilliant understanding of the game. Ex-Bayern boss Guardiola put it best: "Football needs people like Claudio."

Patrick Dirrigl

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