Since making his Bundesliga debut, only Robert Lewandowski has scored more goals in the German top-flight than Wout Weghorst. Now, the Wolfsburg striker is heading into his first campaign in the UEFA Champions League with big goals.
After helping Wolfsburg qualify for Europe's elite club competition and starring for the Netherlands at Euro 2020, Weghorst sits down to discuss his goals for 2021/22 with bundesliga.com and how he'd love to play against Barcelona in the Champions League...
bundesliga.com: You beat Bochum in the first game, but what did you make of it, including your missed penalty and winning goal?
Wout Weghorst: "Yeah, it was a tough start. I think the first two-three minutes from our side were amazing, and we had a big opportunity from the corner and the penalty, of course, the red card. And yeah, I missed it. You can talk as long as you want about penalty kicks, but the only thing that counts is they have to go in. So, it wasn't a good penalty. Luckily, I got my revenge later on. That was a positive thing."
bundesliga.com: Tell us about your celebration. Apparently it was for your three-year-old daughter.
Weghorst: "Of course, it was a special thing because it was the first time she was in the stadium. Second time, but first time she was really small. She asked a lot of times, 'Dad, when can I come to the stadium and when can I see the game?'. So, I asked her what I have to do when papa scores a goal and she said you have to make a heart. So, it was just her, just a little emotion, and I was happy. Just happiness."
bundesliga.com: Wolfsburg had such a great season last year, but what can you and your team achieve this year?
Weghorst: "It was a little bit, of course. I knew there would be the headlines. They asked me who's going to be champion of the Bundesliga, and then I said if I'm a player of Wolfsburg, there's only one team I could say. Of course, there are other teams that are definitely better and have more chances, but I have a good feeling about the season. I think you always have to be positive at the start. The feeling is good and we just have to try to give everything and reach our maximum this year, what we would want. But you always have to achieve and you always have to want the highest, that's clear."
bundesliga.com: What are you expecting from yourself and your team going into the UEFA Champions League this year? Is there a particular team you want to face?
Weghorst: "That's a nice thing, a special thing for me. It will be the first time I will play in the Champions League. I think for a lot of guys for us. So, we're really excited for it. And my wishing team is Barcelona, to be honest. That will be nice."
Watch: Weghorst's winner in the opening weekend win over Wolfsburg
Weghorst: "Good first weeks. Of course, it's still a small-time, but the first feelings are good. Also, the way we're training, they're fun. A lot of nice exercises. Also a lot of football, of course, from the Netherlands. That was the way I was used to training in Holland. But a good, positive feeling. Like I said, we're feeling we're on a good way."
bundesliga.com: How good a fit is his philosophy with you? Has the team already got to grips with it?
Weghorst: "Yeah, of course, some things are different from last year, but in the first match against Bochum I had some really good chances because we're playing offensive. That's always good for a striker. You always want to have the ball, want to be as close as possible to the opponent's goal. I had a lot of possibilities, so that's always a good thing for a striker."
bundesliga.com: Fans are finally back in stadiums. How did it feel walking out, playing and celebrating in front of them again? Also your favourite memories of playing in full stadiums.
Weghorst: "It's clear it's different. Football has to be played with fans, that's something amazing. You do it for the fans, to make them happy, to make people happy, kids, children. That's the nice thing about football. For me, it was absolutely positive they were really there.
Of course, you had a lot of special matches and beautiful moments. I played in Holland, I played in the cup final. And then the whole crowd from AZ Alkmaar, they were singing and they were screaming my name. I had a little song there. That was quite something, really special. To be honest, the first time I walked into the stadium in Dortmund, that was also... It was just the warm-up but they were already there, the 80,000, they were standing. No, that was also absolutely goosebumps. They are really special things. And you only have that when there are people in, a lot of fans with emotion. That makes football so beautiful, I think."
bundesliga.com: You worked for a long time towards an international call-up and finally broke through for the Netherlands at Euro 2020. How did that feel?
Weghorst: "It's a different feeling. It's a feeling of something that's making me really proud. It's really lovely to play for your country. The Euros was something special, of course. Then at the end with our loss against Czechia, it was over a little bit unexpectedly, from one moment to the other. That was also tough, but that's also football. But overall it was a special thing. It was a special adventure, absolutely."
bundesliga.com: The newspaper Algemeen Dagblad ran the headline 'Everyone loves Wout', King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima cheered you on, and you also scored a goal for your country. Could things have gone any better?
Weghorst: "In the first match, also the friendly matches before the Euros, the fans were really positive and screaming my name. I think a lot of fans like the way I play and respect it. That's good. It's taken some time for me in my career, but luckily now it's positive. You just want to give them something back. You want to be successful and scoring goals. Luckily against Ukraine, the first official match, I also scored my first goal over there. Those are moments you don't forget."
bundesliga.com: People said you'd never make it professionally, but you have done. How do you look back on your career?
Weghorst: "It's maybe a different way. Everybody has his own way and has his own path. For me it was a path of hard working. Have confidence in yourself, always. Just give everything every day and try to enjoy the thing you can do and you want to do. It's really special to be a football player and now to play at this level, play Champions League, play for the national team - I'm there again in two weeks. No, it's going good. Hard work pays off, they say. But it's really true."
Watch: Weghorst's top five goals!
bundesliga.com: Tell us about the note you always carry stating your goals.
Weghorst: "I always work with goals before every season. I set it up and try to live it and to see it every day. Sometimes I have it in the car, at home. You just have to convince yourself you can do it, that you can achieve it. If you have the goals you're setting up for yourself, then you have to believe in it - the only one who has to believe in it is yourself. And when you do that, it's possible to reach them. So, to really believe them and feel them, you have to see them a lot, be confident with it a lot. So, that's something I always did in my career and still do because I think that's a good way for me to be successful."
bundesliga.com: You post a lot of personal photos of yourself and your children on social media. Do you want to share your family happiness with fans and give them something back?
Weghorst: "Of course, the social media you have now... For a lot of people, you're an example; for a lot of people as a football player, you're important. And that's something special. You have fans and it's nice to show them you. It's not only me as a football player, it's also me as a dad. Actually, for me as a footballer, I always say that's all OK. But for me at home, the way I am as a person, as a dad, with those two girls, I'm so extremely proud of it. You definitely want to show that. You've always got to be a little bit careful. We didn't show their faces and only take the side or only take the backs because, especially in this time, sometimes we don't want to have them too much on social media. That's sometimes difficult but actually, you want to show and scream it to the whole world because you're really proud of them."
bundesliga.com: What's your life like as a father and husband away from football at home in Wolfsburg?
Weghorst: "I'm not living like a superstar. We live a little bit outside Wolfsburg, 15 minutes from here. It's really quiet. It's outside with a lot of nature, a lot of green. We have a small farmhouse. For us it's perfect. We have a lot of space there, a lot of quiet. I also like it when you have football and it's always a lot of attention. Then I also like it when I go home and it's nothing, just us and quiet."
bundesliga.com: Is there a limit for you?
Weghorst: "Yeah, I think so. I think everybody has his limit. But what it'll be, I don't know. I can't say that right now. I hope there's more in it and I think there's more in it. That's always been my biggest dream, to achieve my limit, achieve my maximum. At the end of my career, I would say I did everything, I gave everything, and that was the level I came to. For me, I think there's also a level and a limit, but I also have the feeling there's more in it."
bundesliga.com: Your three seasons in the Bundesliga have produced hauls of 17, 16 and 20 goals. What's it going to be this year?
Weghorst: "Of course, those are great numbers, good numbers, and I definitely want to also achieve that this year, the kind of numbers like that. I always want to be better, to be better than I was yesterday. Of course, I would go for 20 again, something in the 20s. That would be great. That would be amazing actually. I just have to give everything for it, train hard, work hard, and be confident. Then hopefully - and I think - a good number of goals will come again."
bundesliga.com: And still playing for Wolfsburg?
Weghorst: "Yeah, I think so. That's the only thing I could concentrate on and control. Of course, it's not an easy time, I can be honest about that. You're always unsure because, I said to my girlfriend yesterday I hope 31 August comes soon, then I know what it is. But no, I have the feeling we're on a good way here. We have the Champions League now. That will be something special for us this year. I just want to be part of it, I love to be part of it, and to give everything for the club. Of course, ambitions are always there. You never close your eyes for other things, I think that's also clear as a footballer. So yeah, because of that, it's not always easy because it's unsure. You can't say what will happen in the future, but from now on I concentrate here, focus here, and go for a good season again."
bundesliga.com: What are you expecting when Wolfsburg host RB Leipzig on Sunday?
Weghorst: "That's a great match. Of course, Leipzig are a strong opponent. It's a really good team. It will be a nice match and I'm looking forward to it. Just have to concentrate on ourselves and play our own game, our own style of play. Then we will see what it will bring. I think it will be fireworks and a good match."